Nets mailbag: Kenny Atkinson saw the writing on the wall
You ask, we answer. The Post is fielding questions from readers about New York’s biggest pro sports teams and getting our beat writers to answer them in a series of regularly published mailbags. In today’s installment: the Nets.
Sean Marks has said the departure of Kenny Atkinson was “a mutual decision.” Do you believe that? Do you think that Atkinson wanted to step down? — Greg
Those are two different questions. I’ll try my best to cover both.
One, we all make decisions we don’t necessarily want to make. I’m convinced Atkinson wanted to see this through and win an NBA title in Brooklyn. But I also fully believe he realized he wasn’t going to get that chance.
Atkinson could sense his voice wasn’t carrying the same weight in the locker room. If it hadn’t been apparent to him earlier, it became clear by February. And we’re not talking full-scale insurrection here, just a few powerful voices.
If Atkinson saw the writing on the wall and knew a parting of ways was inevitable, why wait? Pardon the gory analogy, but better to fall on the sword now than take a knife in the back later — especially considering the timing.
NBA head-coaching jobs are hard to get, but there are several that are going to be open this offseason. Atkinson’s body of work and proven ability to develop players is going to make him an attractive candidate for some of those — possibly even the one right across the East River at the Garden. Everybody from Gregg Popovich to ex-Knick coach David Fizdale has said Atkinson will be back in the saddle soon. Now he gets to pick the horse.
There’s no way Jarrett Allen is on this team after next season’s trade deadline, right? With DeAndre Jordan forcing his way into the starting lineup, Nic Claxton developing and Kevin Durant being able to shift to the 5. If he’s traded, do you think he eventually lives up to his potential and thrives elsewhere, or is he going to be one of those guys who is too soft in the post and needs to develop a 3-ball, otherwise he’ll be out of the league? — PJ
As someone who often tries to sneak multiple questions into one, I salute you. Much respect.
First, I wouldn’t hazard a guess as to whether Allen will be here by next season’s deadline. You’re right, Allen, Caris LeVert and Spencer Dinwiddie would be the Nets’ best trade assets, and with the way the Nets play and the roster is constructed could lead to teams thinking they could pry Allen out of Brooklyn.
But the Nets are believed to have rejected an offer for Allen that would have brought back Clint Capela. Like Allen, Capela can’t hit the broad side of a barn from deep, but he’s not headed out of the NBA anytime soon.
Yes, rim-runners don’t break the bank and aren’t irreplaceable. Allen won’t need more bulk or a 3-point shot to stay in the league or even get a nice second contract. But adding either will make him a better player. Adding both will make him an All-Star.
You need to understand that the Nets fall somewhere between the CIA and old KGB when it comes to secrecy. And that’s over a hangnail or a sprained pinkie toe, in the best of times. This is COVID-19 and these are hardly the best of times. So they’re clearly not flouting HIPAA and leaking that information. As far as staying in shape, director of sport science Dan Meehan is on top of that. The team has been sending the players exercise equipment (weights, bikes, etc.) and fitness programs, using FaceTime and giving them guidance on their workout regimens, which can last 1 ½ hours.
Garrett Temple was signed at the opening of free agency, who is the next role player on “the Durant/Kyrie list”? — Andrew Goldman
I’d be lying if I told you I knew. But I have heard there are a number of veterans who would like to come to Brooklyn to join up with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. They have the taxpayer midlevel exception to spend in free agency.
If the rest of the NBA season gets canceled and there are no playoffs, do the Nets get to keep their pick or does it go to Atlanta? — Steven Rodriguez
The Nets sent their 2020 first-round pick to the Hawks (who later flipped it to the Timberwolves) to dump Allen Crabbe’s salary and clear the way to sign Durant and Irving. However, it’s lottery-protected, so would only convey if the Nets make the playoffs, which they were on pace to do. But nobody knows the exact answer until the NBA figures out how the end of the season will play out. That’s just one of many things in a state of suspended animation until we know what’s going to happen.
Source : Brian Lewis Link