Brooklyn Nets to ‘explore’ bringing in Gregg Popovich

Brooklyn Nets, Sean Marks

The first order of business for the Brooklyn Nets this offseason is hiring a full-time head coach. The team fired head coach Kenny Atkinson in March, promoting Jacque Vaughn under the interim tag.

Despite mentioning the low likelihood that it comes to fruition, Dan Woike of the Los Angeles Times reports that the Nets are expected to “explore” acquiring San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich.

“The lovable underdog days of the Nets are numbered, with league sources, including those familiar with the Nets and the Spurs, expecting Brooklyn to explore bringing the NBA’s biggest coaching name — Gregg Popovich — to the Nets’ sidelines.

Brooklyn, according to sources, almost certainly will be unsuccessful because the Spurs coach’s legacy is so closely tied to San Antonio, where he’s built a life and a legacy over the past two decades. Plus he’s under contract. There’s a “never say never” element according to one NBA executive, but it’ll probably never happen.”

Popovich signed a three-year extension with the Spurs last year. San Antonio was eliminated from playoff contention in the Western Conference on Thursday, marking the first time since 1997 that they’ve missed the playoffs under Popovich.

Popovich was an assistant for the Spurs from 1988-94. He has been the team’s head coach since the 1996-97 NBA season and has won five NBA championships, the last coming in the 2013-14 season.

Last week it was reported that the Nets will meet with Los Angeles Lakers assistant Jason Kidd, Philadelphia 76ers assistant Ime Udoka, Los Angeles Clippers assistant Tyronn Lue and former NBA head coach Jeff Van Gundy.

The Nets are 7-3 under Vaughn. They finished the 2019-20 regular season 35-37, good for the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference. Brooklyn will face off with the two-seeded and defending NBA-champion Toronto Raptors in the first round of the playoffs, which begins on Monday.

New York Knicks: Kenny Atkinson receives glowing endorsement to land Knicks’ head coaching job

Brooklyn Nets, Kenny Atkinson, New York Knicks

The New York Knicks are still in the middle of finding their next head coach after the firing of David Fizdale in 2019. The hiring of Leon Rose has changed the direction of the organization, as he brings good connections across the league from his former position as a super agent for CAA.

The next head coach for the Knicks is a significant deal, as Tom Thibodeau and Kenny Atkinson remain in play. Thibodeau is the favorite, as reports have indicated he’s begun his film research regarding the team, but Atkinson shouldn’t be overlooked.

A rumor that Atkinson had been interviewed for the third time could indicate the Knicks’ extended interest in the former Brooklyn head coach. He received glowing reviews from one former player, Jarrett Allen.

According to the New York Post, Allen stated:

“[Atkinson would bring] what he brought with us,” Allen said Thursday via Zoom. “We came in — or I came into the Nets — and we weren’t making our mark in the NBA.

“You could see every year that I was with him, and every year that he coached us, we kept getting better and better, and the players that were under him kept developing and developing and bringing us more confidence. So whatever team he goes to, they’re going to get a hell of a coach.”

Allen went on to say that he was “a hell of a coach” and while it would be “weird” for him to be on the Knicks, he has the ability to take a team to the next level.

The New York Knicks have a bevy of young talented players in RJ Barrett and Mitchell Robinson. It would be ignorant to forget about Kevin Knox and Frank Ntilikina, two players that have underwhelmed but hold the potential for more.

Atkinson’s history in developing youngsters and the understanding of the New York media market could be an essential factor in his candidacy. Thibodeau, who spent five seasons in Chicago, lead them to the playoffs every year, and he also performed well with the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The Knicks are in the middle of a serious rebuild, and both Atkinson and Thibodeau are fantastic head-coaching options.

New York Knicks are heavily considering Kenny Atkinson as next head coach

Brooklyn Nets, Kenny Atkinson

The New York Knicks are in the midst of finding their next head coach after the departure of David Fizdale in 2019. The rumors have been flowing, especially around Tom Thibodeau, who has reportedly already started watching Knicks film in preparation for his hiring.

Not so fast Tom, as the Knicks are still exploring other options, including former nets Coach, Kenny Atkinson.

Atkinson has been heavily considered, given his pedigree with the Nets and their surprise firing of him last season. The Knicks are considering a bevy of candidates, including interim coach Mike Miller, who took over after Fizdale was fired last season. Atkinson makes a lot of sense, considering his familiarity with the area and the fact that he just enjoyed his third interview with management.

The New York Knicks are doing their due diligence

While Thibodeau and Atkinson remain the favorites, former point guard Jason Kidd is also in the picture. These are three highly capable candidates who offer vastly different approaches to the game.

While it seems like Thibodeau leads the pack, Atkinson can’t be ruled out just yet. If he is garnering enough attention to receive multiple interviews, the Knicks must be intrigued by him. Of course, it all boils down to owner James Dolan and who he prefers. Despite hiring Leon Rose, former Super agent for CAA, Dolan has the final say in any hirings.

With the hiring expected by the end of the month, the final interview for Atkinson certainly raises a few questions. Are they completely sold on Thibodeau? Is Jason Kidd even in consideration anymore?

We will find out soon enough, but Atkinson isn’t only coming from the Nets. He served as the assistant coach for the Knicks from 2008-2012. He was with the organization under Mike D’Antoni.

Whoever is hired will have to continue rebuilding the roster around their current youth players. With the hope being the Knicks land LaMelo Ball in the draft, RJ Barrett and Mitchell Robinson remain the focal points. Utilizing their strengths is a priority, and something Fizdale failed to do last year.

Jacque Vaughn the favorite ‘against the field’ to coach the Brooklyn Nets next season

Jacque Vaughn, Brooklyn Nets

Among the many storylines surrounding the Brooklyn Nets is their head-coaching future. Jacque Vaughn took over as interim head coach after Brooklyn and Kenny Atkinson parted ways in March.

Vaughn coached two games before the NBA season was suspended and will be traveling to coach the Nets in Walt Disney World later this month. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Vaughn could be roaming the Nets’ sidelines beyond the summer festivities.

On the latest edition of “The Woj Pod,” Wojnarowski said he’d take Vaughn “against the field” to be the Nets head coach next season.

“He’s the head coach. They didn’t make him interim coach. I think the Nets are considering the possibility of a search, but I would still give Jacque Vaughn — I would take Jacque Vaughn against the field right now.”

Prior to his head-coaching promotion Vaughn was an assistant under Atkinson for three and a half seasons, the head coach of the Magic from 2012-15 and an assistant coach under Gregg Popovich with the San Antonio Spurs from 2010-12.

The Nets have been connected to other coaches around the league such as Tyronn Lue, Tom Thibodeau, Mark Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy, among others.

The Nets (30-34) are the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference, eight and a half games behind the sixth-seeded Philadelphia 76ers, a half-game ahead of the eighth-seeded Orlando Magic and six games ahead of the ninth-seeded Washington Wizards.

Forward Wilson Chandler and center DeAndre Jordan have opted out of the NBA season, and big man Nic Claxton is out for the season with a shoulder injury. The Nets signed guards Tyler Johnson and Justin Anderson. Jarrett Allen recently discussed the challenges of players living in the NBA bubble and his role in the Nets rotation with the aforementioned players absent.

The NBA regular season is scheduled to resume on July 30.

Brooklyn Nets: Sean Marks talks Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving’s health and input

Brooklyn Nets, Kyrie Irving

Last summer, the Brooklyn Nets signed Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving to four-year, max-level contracts. Durant has missed the entire 2019-20 season as he rehabs from a torn Achilles tendon suffered in the 2019 NBA playoffs. Meanwhile, Irving has been limited to 20 games this season due to a handful of injuries.

As the NBA gears up for the resumption of the 2019-20 regular season, Nets general manager Sean Marks feels it’s important to take into account the long game with Durant and Irving regarding them playing this season (quotes by means of Brian Lewis of the New York Post).

“[Irving] is doing well. But like Kevin, you have to look at the risk-reward. When you have a lot of money and your future tied to a couple guys — the whole team, but these two guys are an integral part of it — they haven’t had the appropriate buildup,” Marks said Friday on WFAN. “The last thing you want to do is put these guys out there when they haven’t had the appropriate workload and buildup.”

The Nets parted ways with head coach Kenny Atkinson in March, subsequently promoting Jacque Vaughn to interim head coach. Vaughn coached two games prior to the NBA season being suspended.

Marks feels that Durant and Irving should have some input on the team’s head-coaching future.

“It would not be smart of us if we were not to involve some of these key players in this decision,” Marks said. “Kevin, Kyrie, we’re going to pick their brains on what they’re looking for in a leader, what they need. They’ve been brutally honest so far.”

Marks makes it clear that the two stars want to win a championship with the Nets.

“I’m not going to be asking Kevin to come down to Orlando to evaluate anybody. When you get to the level of those elite players, they have ultimate goals in mind. They want to be held accountable. Kevin and Kyrie have told me they want to win a championship in Brooklyn.”

Brooklyn Nets: Does Culture Win Championships?

Brooklyn Nets, Kyrie Irving

It wasn’t supposed to come to this, but that isn’t a bad thing. 

In a newfound problem for the Brooklyn Nets, that exclusively applies to teams with top-flight talent, a power struggle has emerged within the organization. After a 2018-2019 campaign that saw an 8-18 beginning turn on the back of D’Angelo Russell, the Brooklyn Nets established a culture that made fans forget recent years of despair that was doomed by the infamous 2013 trade with the Boston Celtics. 

Culture became a buzzword for the Nets front office and fans as their overachieving 42-40 record offered promise after entering the season with diminished expectations and a self-proclaimed “system” that had produced little in the way of results. 

Caris Levert’s gruesome injury halted his promising start to the season, leaving behind a shattered locker room looking for a leader to step up. Through the wreckage emerged D’Angelo Russell, who along with a bunch of former cast-offs, guided the team through an obstacle-filled season. For this, Russell earned a spot on the Eastern Conference all-star team. 

Developing right next to Russell was his backup, Spencer Dinwiddie, who had proven to be a mismatch nightmare, seeking out big men and delivering the highest point per possession totals in the NBA throughout the season. Also making a rise from the scrap heap was Joe Harris, who developed a well-rounded game to make him a mainstay in lineups to close out games.

This was a welcome sight for coach Kenny Atkinson and general manager Sean Marks, who finally saw results after two tumultuous seasons at the helm. Rather than continuing to accumulate assets in hopes of striking a diamond in the rough, the Nets were suddenly in a position of power, with high-profile stars being linked to them consistently and public perception changing in a very vocal manner around the league. 

The veterans on the team were thorough in their praise of coach Atkinson, citing the system he developed as instrumental in helping the team blend perfectly and play to their strengths at all times. 

The signings of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and Deandre Jordan on June 30 changed the landscape of the league, as the cellar-dwelling Brooklyn Nets were catapulted into the top-tier of basketball as a team with the firepower to push through the Eastern conference and go toe to toe with the fearsome superstars of Los Angeles out West. 

Durant and Irving have openly discussed the allure of a solid culture in their decision to come to Brooklyn. Since their signings, however, they have been behind many decisions that indicate their desire to rid the team of their old regime and insert their power in a way that has become customary for superstars around the league. The culture-oriented Nets are now at a crossroads, with each passing decision serving as a reminder that this league is run by superstars. 

When pressured by Durant and Irving, Marks nixed the idea of bringing in Carmelo Anthony, who at the time, had been shunned by all 30 teams in his attempt to make it back onto a roster. Although Marks was able to put his foot down in this instance, the subsequent firing of Kenny Atkinson beckoned the question: does culture win championships, or it is the superstars that do? The relevance of this conflict is an indictment of where the league stands. The players hold all the power

Perhaps Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant understand after seeing Atkinson’s style that he does not possess the qualities of a championship-level coach, and to me, that’s okay. After all, when you have the opportunity to sign two superstars after being mired in mediocrity, you hand them the keys and let them drive the franchise wherever they see fit. 


The New York Knicks 2019-20 has officially come to and end

New York Knicks, Elfrid Payton

The New York Knicks season is officially over.  The NBA will be voting today on playing out the regular season in a new proposal.

The Knicks are currently in the bottom 8 in the league.  The new proposal, via ESPNs Woj, twenty-two teams will be invited to Orlando.  Thirteen Western Conference teams and 9 from the East.  Their will be a play-in for the 8th seed in each conference. This is to take place July 31st to October 12th.

This is good and bad for the Knicks and their fans.

First the bad.  We all want to see more Knicks basketball.  Despite another season going horrible for the team, we still want to watch the blue and orange.  No matter how bad the Knicks are, there are still plenty of loyal fans that will root for their team no matter what. The Knicks fans are them.  The season was cut short due to COVID-19.

The good in all of this is the Knicks can begin looking for their next head coach.  Everyone knows that Tom Thibodeau is the leader in the clubhouse, currently, for the job.  But with this organization, you truly never know what is going to happen.  Others who will get an interview are Mike Miller and Kenny Atkinson.

This also will give the Knicks an ample amount of time to begin scouting the draft.  This is to stay they haven’t already since there might‘be been a feeling their season was already over.

Knicks fans already don’t agree on who the next coach should be.  That comes as no surprise Knicks fans can’t agree on anything. But whoever it is, the Knicks faithful will be behind them.  At least for a little while.

If the Knicks do hire Thibs, some may say the re-build is over.  The team will be looking for compete in the 2020-21 season.

The Knicks have the tools in place to be successful down the road. RJ Barrett snd Mitchell Robinson to start.  The new front office is set and ready to turn this around.  It’s now officially the new beginning for the New York Knicks.

Tom Thibodeau the next head coach of the New York Knicks?

New York Knicks, Tom Thibodeau

As we all wish that the New York Knicks were still playing, the rumor mill hasn’t stopped.  Leon Rose will be looking for his head coach for next season, assuming Mike Miller doesn’t return.

SNY’s Ian Begley reports, “several coaches and people” believe that Rose will hire Tom ‘Tibbs’ Thibodeau if Miller isn’t brought back.  This comes as no surprise since Tibbs has been linked to the Knicks job for some time now.

Apparently Rose and Tibbs have been close for two decades, according to Frank Isola.  This shouldn’t be look into as much. Rose has all his current and formers clients connected to the Knicks.  It’s all filler.

This seems to be long overdue. Whenever the Knicks had a head coaching vacancy, Tibbs’ name always came up.  Rumors swirled that  Tibbs always wanted to coach the Knicks.

He was an assistant for the Knicks from 1996-2004. He was under Jeff Van Gundy, primarily, Don Chaney, Herb Williams and Lenny Wilkens.  Van Gundy was drawn to Tibbs cause of his attention to detail and player development.

Tibbs may not be the best candidate to help develop these young Knicks players.  He’s never been the type to develop players. He has young, good talent in Minnesota and was fired after 3 seasons.  Thibs tried to adapt to the new style of play and he ran the young players into the ground, some games high 30 minutes.  Plus, the old school mentality hasn’t worked of recent.

Another thing to pay attention to, say the Knicks hire Tibbs, is his health.

Tibbs is 106 games over .500 in his NBA head coaching career.  The New York Knicks have won a total of 144 games over the last six seasons.

The New York Knicks should prefer Atkinson over Thibodeau

Brooklyn Nets, Kenny Atkinson

The new president of the New York Knicks, Leon Rose, will need time to evaluate current personnel.  It seems like interim head coach Mike Miller, most likely, won’t be returning.  Rose will be looking for a more experienced coach.  But what he should be looking for is a developmental coach.

Kenny Atkinson was let go by the Brooklyn Nets.  This news came as a shock considering he’s doing the best possible job with the roster he has.  Coming from Knicks fans, that’s saying something.

Before the arrival of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, Atkinson was able to take a young Nets roster to the playoffs.  And while fans probably won’t want to admit it, he put a better, younger product on the floor than the Knicks.

Last season, Atkinson had a group of young, role players that earned the 6th playoff spot in the East.  While it might not mean much in the East, he still developed a playoff team.  This season, his roster is even worse with the injuries to Irving and Durant and they’re still in the playoff picture, the Knicks are not.

Irving and Durant are headaches, so being relived of his duties isn’t on Atkinson.  It was more player driven, allegedly, well Irving driven.

Atkinson coming to the Knicks would be the best case scenario.  He can develop young players and that is what the Knicks need the most.  Tom Thibodeau remains high on the list for the position but isn’t high on developing youth.  Jeff Van Gundy is a pipe dream and shouldn’t want to leave his comfy job for the mess that is the Knicks anyway.   Atkinson should be the New York Knicks number one priority for developmental purposes.

Nets, head coach Kenny Atkinson, mutually part ways

The Brooklyn Nets and head coach Kenny Atkinson have mutually parted way according to a statement released by general manager Sean Marks.

“After discussions with Kenny about the progress of the season, we mutually agreed that a coaching change would be in the best interest of the team. This was an extremely difficult decision, however the organization believes it is one that is necessary at this time. Kenny was instrumental in developing our players and building the identity and culture we have become known for over these past four seasons.”

The Nets (28-34) currently hold the seventh spot in the Eastern Conference standings despite having minimal contributions from their two huge offseason additions – Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant.

Irving played just 20 games before injuring his shoulder two weeks ago and is done for the season. Durant has missed the entire season with an Achilles Tendon injury.

The 52-year-old Atkinson was in his fourth season as the Nets’ head coach, compiling a record of 118-190 with a playoff appearance last year. No word on who will take over the reins.