During his Brian Windhorst & The Hoop Collective podcast on Monday, Windhorst said: "One of the things that has been expressed sort of through the grapevine—that's the way I'm going to say it to protect myself from the aggregators—is that Durant and Irving would like a blue-chip coach. I don't know what this says about the way they thought about Atkinson, but they want a big-name coach."
The Nets moved on from head coach Kenny Atkinson following a 28-34 start this season, and he was replaced on an interim basis by Jacque Vaughn before the season was suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Although the Nets had a fairly secure playoff spot at the time of Atkinson's departure, he went just 118-190 in parts of four seasons as Brooklyn's head coach. He did lead the Nets to a 42-40 record and a playoff berth last season, however.
It's unclear if Durant or Irving had any influence on the front office's decision to move on from Atkinson, but the move was clearly made with an eye toward the 2020-21 season and beyond. That's when the Nets are expected to contend, provided KD and Kyrie are healthy.
Pro Basketball Talk's Keith Smith reported that Tom Thibodeau, Mark Jackson, Jeff Van Gundy and Stan Van Gundy are some of the coaches the Nets have been linked to.
Both Van Gundy brothers have coached a team to the NBA Finals. Thibodeau took the Chicago Bulls to the Eastern Conference Finals, and Jackson led the Golden State Warriors to the playoffs twice in three seasons before getting fired in favor of Steve Kerr.
Durant has missed the entire 2019-20 season to this point with a ruptured Achilles, while Irving was shut down after just 20 games to undergo shoulder surgery.
Assuming this season resumes at some point and the Nets reach the playoffs, they would likely be a fairly quick out. Brooklyn has a chance to be a major factor in the Eastern Conference next season, though, especially if the team finds the right coach.