NBA Rumors: Kenny Atkinson and Nets Coaching Staff Nearing Contract Extensions

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistApril 2, 2019

Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson looks at the scoreboard in the first half during an NBA basketball game against the Utah Jazz Saturday, March 16, 2019, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
Rick Bowmer/Associated Press

The Brooklyn Nets are in position to make the playoffs for the first time since 2015, and head coach Kenny Atkinson and his staff will reportedly be rewarded for their efforts.

On Monday, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported Atkinson and the team's assistant coaches "are nearing completion on contract extensions" that will be finalized "in the near future."

Brooklyn hired Atkinson prior to the 2016-17 season after he was an assistant coach for the New York Knicks and Atlanta Hawks.

While he was just 20-62 in his first season, the team improved to 28-54 in his second and is 39-39 with four games remaining in his third. The Nets are the No. 7 seed in the Eastern Conference and are just a half-game behind the sixth-seeded Detroit Pistons.

"General manager Sean Marks and Atkinson have worked together to remake the franchise through deft personnel decisions, strong player development and a reshaped organizational environment," Wojnarowski wrote.

Brooklyn features six players averaging 11.0 points or better this season, and five of them are 27 years old or younger.

The development of go-to playmaker D'Angelo Russell stands out in particular, as he was never able to consistently establish himself with the Los Angeles Lakers after they selected him with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2015 NBA draft. Brooklyn acquired him via trade in June 2017, and he has thrived with the Eastern Conference team.

The Ohio State product made his first All-Star Game this season and entered play Monday averaging 20.9 points, 7.0 assists, 3.7 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game while shooting 36.0 percent from three-point range. He also gives the Nets someone they can turn toward in crunch time during the upcoming playoffs should they make it.

Russell will be a restricted free agent this offseason but will have the opportunity to further develop under Atkinson if he returns.


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