Since the untimely firing of former Nets Head Coach Kenny Atkinson (who went 118-190) there have been many reports about what led to the decision, but championship coach David Fizdale thinks it had nothing to do with Atkinson. With that being said, for Brooklyn if this season has taught them anything it’s to expect the unexpected.
Here’s a concise summary of what has taken place for the Nets from the offseason until now. Back in July 10x All-Star Kevin Durant, 6x All-Star Kyrie Irving and All-Star DeAndre Jordan joined the team; November Irving goes down with a shoulder impingement that would cost him 26 games; January and February Irving dealt with some nagging knee soreness that would cost him some games as well and eventually went down after re-aggravating his shoulder which led to the team shutting him down for the season. Lastly, in March the Nets fired Atkinson and just four days later Commissioner Adam Silver suspended the NBA season due to the global pandemic known as COVID-19.
It’s been eventful to say the least. However when it comes to coach firings, they happen all the time, but this one seemed out of place, taking all things into consideration.
The Nets had just beaten the Spurs 139-120, were the 7th seed in the East and only six games below .500 at 28-34. No, that’s not the best record, but considering how inconsistent the lineup has been all year that’s not too bad. Not to mention the Nets knew this whole season that Durant would be on the sideline rehabbing a torn Achilles. With all of that being said Brooklyn wasn’t underachieving too badly so why get rid of the coach?
In his first season coaching the team they went 20-62, but they’ve progressively gotten better capping off with a 42-40 season last year as the 6th seed in the East, making the playoffs.
Championship coach Fizdale has a theory about the whole thing. He thinks Atkinson didn’t have enough support within the organization.
“When it comes to players with power, your front office has to be really strong and your culture has to be strong to weather disgruntled players,” said Fizdale. “And you have to have a certain amount of support for your coach when things get turbulent.”
With that being said, turbulence was expected, as is always the case when you bring together a new group of guys who are playing together for the first time. Then add injuries to the equation, that’s even more turbulence.
With this decision to part ways with Atkinson though maybe owner Joseph Tsai and the Nets had higher expectations than most this year. This is a mystery that quite frankly may never be solved.