Sean Marks Denies Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving Facilitated Kenny Atkinson's Firing

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistMarch 7, 2020

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 24: Head Coach Kenny Atkinson of the Brooklyn Nets looks on against the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center on February 24, 2020 in New York City.  Orlando Magic defeated the Brooklyn Nets 115-113. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
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Kenny Atkinson's sudden decision to part ways with the Brooklyn Nets was not due to any issues with Kyrie Irving or Kevin Durant

The Nets announced Saturday that Atkinson and the organization agreed to a mutual parting of ways, with Jacque Vaughn taking over as interim head coach for the remainder of the season.

Speaking to reporters about the move, Nets general manager Sean Marks said this decision "didn't involve the players" and was more a decision reached involving himself, Atkinson and ownership. 

Without diving into specifics of what led to the coaching change, Marks did say he thought it was "time for another voice in that locker room."   

Atkinson was in his fourth season with the Nets and earned high marks for leading the franchise's turnaround in 2018-19. Their win total increased in each of the past two seasons, including a 42-40 mark and postseason berth last year. 

Allen Crabbe, who played two seasons under Atkinson from 2017-19, explained to The Athletic's Michael Scotto in April what made the 52-year-old so effective as a coach:

“I think he's a player's coach. Not just a coach. He really cares about his players. He puts his players in situations to succeed. He doesn't really hold anybody back. Obviously, he's letting guys do what they do and play to your best abilities, but not out of control. He's the type of coach that you want to play for, a guy that his players come first and it's about team first, and it's about the culture he's created here. He's a great coach to play for.”

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When Kevin Durant signed with the Nets in July, Marks said the two-time NBA Finals MVP told him he picked Brooklyn because he loved the system and way the team played. 

This has been a disappointing season for the Nets, though. They own the No. 7 seed in the Eastern Conference but with a 28-34 record. Kyrie Irving was only able to play in 20 games because of a shoulder impingement that required season-ending surgery Tuesday.

Atkinson finished his tenure as Nets head coach with a 118-190 record and one playoff appearance.