That should come as no surprise after he signed a four-year, $164.25 million deal in free agency, yet with the team seemingly at a crossroads, he's taking matters into his hands as much as possible, according to general manager Sean Marks, even as he continues to rehab from an Achilles injury that has kept him sidelined all season.
“He continues to be a very loud voice in terms of where we’re going in the future and what we’re doing and I involve him like the other players and staff and how we’ll continue to build this team and how we move forward,” Marks said (h/t SNY.TV's Ian Begley).
Marks added that Durant has been involved in conversations surrounding the roster and front-office moves. Already, his presence has been felt on the sidelines.
Per Yahoo Sports' Vincent Goodwill:
"Multiple sources told Yahoo Sports that Atkinson wasn’t fond of coaching Durant and Irving based on what he saw this season, and would rather something happen now than at the end of the season.
"That gibes with Marks saying he and Atkinson had been in discussions about this for weeks, even months now. It’s tough to embrace Atkinson putting so much into turning the franchise around, but ready to wash his hands of it months into this season.
"Whether Atkinson didn’t bend enough to accommodate his accomplished veterans for fear of alienating those who knew him as something different, or the situation was too awkward to work, seems fair to speculate."
It's hard to imagine the Nets, who are currently led by interim coach Jacque Vaughn, would hire Atkinson's replacement without the input of Durant and Irving. Irving in particular has already suggested the pieces aren't exactly in place for the Nets to make a true title run following a loss to the Philadelphia 76ers in January.
The Nets will take part in the NBA's restart at the end of July. The real intrigue for the team will come after then when Durant and Irving begin helping Marks shape the future of the franchise for years to come.