Atkinson Revived The Brooklyn Nets Franchise But Won’t Be Around to Reap The Rewards

The Brooklyn Nets and Head Coach Kenny Atkinson have mutually agreed to part ways. The move came as a surprise to everyone considering the job Atkinson has done to revive the Brooklyn franchise. The timing is just as questionable with the Nets in the playoff picture. Nonetheless, the two parties are going their own ways and I won’t ever understand it.

Atkinson’s Stint in Brooklyn

In his 4 year stint in Brooklyn, Atkinson quickly changed the losing culture that dates back to the mid 2000’s. Because of Brooklyn’s franchise destroying moves prior to Atkinson being hired, there was no talent on roster, and no top draft picks coming through that door. But he had a substitute for talent, it was a culture. Atkinson implemented a blue collar culture, one where you had to fight and work for everything you wanted.

He developed guys to heights they likely wouldn’t hit without his coaching and support. D’Angelo Russell shedded the “bust” label and became an all-star. Spencer Dinwiddie was a second round pick and nothing more than a D-League success story. Under Atkinson he became a break out player and a true combo guard in the league. We also seen his impact on Caris LeVert and Jarrett Allen. They have become key components of the Nets rotation.

Atkinson is widely viewed as the reason Brooklyn got out of the gutter and into prime position to sign Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. 

The troubling part of this whole situation to me is that Atkinson did everything right and is now unemployed. He helped get Durant and Irving to Brooklyn, but won’t ever get to reap the rewards of the foundation he laid in Brooklyn. It has a Mark Jackson-Golden State Warriors feel to me but worse. Atkinson won’t have a season with the two star players to see if he was the coach to take them to the next level. I would argue he has done a good job this year considering Kyrie was out most of the season yet the Nets are in the playoffs. He earned the right to at least have a run or two with the complete team healthy.

Atkinson Will Land on His Feet

One thing is for sure, Atkinson will not be unemployed for long. His resume in Brooklyn speaks for its self. Teams who are rebuilding will make a call to Atkinson. James Dolan and the Knicks should be on the phone with Atkinson right now. But they won’t because they’re the Knicks and they don’t make smart decisions.

Teams with a young core that need to make that next step should place calls to Atkinson. A reunion of Atkinson and D’Angelo Russell in Minnesota is something to watch for. And I feel like Atkinson could have the same impact he had on Russell, with Zach LaVine in Chicago.

This is a hot take but don’t be surprised if Atkinson is on the side lines for the Houston Rockets a year from now. D’Antoni is on the last year of his deal and the Rockets need to shake things up because getting close to the title isn’t what they want to continue to do. Atkinson’s grit and grind, blue collar culture could be exactly what that team needs.



Leave a Reply