The biggest headline in the NBA this week was the surprise dismissal of Brooklyn Nets' head coach Kenny Atkinson. The official statement from general manager Sean Marks was that both sides mutually agreed to part ways, however, sources indicate that the move was influenced at least partly by Kyrie Irving, who reportedly "soured" on Atkinson.
The Nets have a record of 28-34 and are clinging to an Eastern Conference playoff spot. While this season was generally expected to be a rebuild year while new acquisition Kevin Durant recovered from his Achilles tear, that rebuild is now in question with the loss of the coach who was expected to lead it. Assistant coach Jacques Irving has taken over on an interim basis, but if the Nets don't retain him, these are the three most likely choices to lead the moving forward.
According to several sources, Tyronn Lue is Kyrie Irving's handpicked choice for the Nets' next head coach, which makes too much sense. It was Lue who led Irving, along with LeBron James and the rest of the Cleveland Cavaliers, to the NBA title in 2016.
Lue is currently an assistant coach for the Los Angeles Clippers, but would certainly jump at returning to the head coaching game. He's also used to an environment populated with stars such as Irving and (soon enough) Kevin Durant, as opposed to Atkinson, who reportedly was not fond of having to coach the two in the future.
If hired, this would be Jackson's first head coaching gig since the 2013-14 season with the Golden State Warriors. While it could be argued that Jackson laid the groundwork for that Warriors team to grow into a dynasty under the leadership of Steve Kerr, that growth didn't come without pain. Just ask Brian Scalabrine.
Currently working as an NBA analyst with ESPN, Jackson has a major backer in the form of Rich Kleiman, Kevin Durant's business manager.
“He’s one of those magnetic personalities. When you get people who are that special and people follow, it’s not always the most conventional way of doing things," said Kleiman to the New York Post. "That disruptiveness is sometimes what you need to become great."
Don't let his recent struggles with the New York Knicks fool you. David Fizdale is another well-liked coach who fell into a trash fire and tried his best to put it out but was unsuccessful. His first season as head coach of the Memphis Grizzlies - 43-39 and a playoff berth - is more of an indicator of what he is capable of.
Fizdale is known as a player's coach, which may be exactly what a team with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant needs.