Nets Rumors: Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving 'Like and Respect' Tom Thibodeau

Megan ArmstrongSenior Analyst IIMay 5, 2020

MIAMI, FL - DECEMBER 30:  Head coach Tom Thibodeau of the Minnesota Timberwolves looks on against the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena on December 30, 2018 in Miami, Florida. 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 Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Michael Reaves/Getty Images

The Brooklyn Nets and head coach Kenny Atkinson mutually agreed to part ways on March 7.

According to Marc Berman of the New York Post, Tom Thibodeau has emerged as a potential replacement because of Kevin Durant's and Kyrie Irving's mutual admiration and respect for their former USA Basketball assistant coach.  

"Kevin's a basketball junkie, he loves him," an NBA source familiar with the situation told Berman. "Great players want to be coached, except the lazy ones. If they think the coach has a higher basketball IQ than them, they're all in."

Thibodeau was the Chicago Bulls head coach from 2010 until his firing in May 2015. The 62-year-old was away from the league for the 2015-16 campaign before he was hired as the Minnesota Timberwolves head coach and president of basketball operations in April 2016.

Thibodeau was let go by the Wolves during the 2018-19 season on Jan. 6, 2019.

Overall as an NBA head coach, Thibodeau is 352-246, including five straight playoff appearances with the Bulls and one with the Timberwolves.

Durant and Irving arrived in Brooklyn as free agents last summer.

Irving was limited to 20 games in his first season as a Net before undergoing season-ending shoulder surgery on March 3, while Durant won't return to the floor until next season as the two-time Finals MVP continues to rehabilitate a ruptured Achilles suffered during Game 5 of the 2019 NBA Finals.

Los Angeles Clippers assistant coach Tyronn Lue has been linked to Brooklyn's coaching search because of his history with Irving.

"Irving soured on Atkinson early, league sources told Yahoo Sports, and currently prefers Clippers assistant Tyronn Lue to be the team's next head coach," Yahoo Sports' Vincent Goodwill reported on March 7. "Lue was the head coach in Cleveland when Irving hit the winning shot in the 2016 NBA Finals and was in talks to take the Lakers job before discussions broke down."

Marc Stein of the New York Times provided an update on April 23:

Marc Stein @TheSteinLine

Tyronn Lue, Jason Kidd, Mark Jackson, Jeff Van Gundy and the incumbent interim coach Jacque Vaughn are among the names on the Nets' developing list of coaching candidates, league sources say

Marc Stein @TheSteinLine

Earlier this week, @SBondyNYDN reported on the mutual interest between Clippers assistant Ty Lue and Kyrie Irving in a potential Brooklyn reunion after their time together in Cleveland. Golden State assistant coach Mike Brown is another name to monitor ...

The Nets were 30-34 when the NBA began its hiatus on March 12 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.