The Nets had their reasons for parting ways with fourth-year head coach Kenny Atkinson, but veteran DeAndre Jordan was adamantly against the idea that they did so due to input from Brooklyn's superstar duo of Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant.
Talking to reporters after Sunday's 110-107 win over the Chicago Bulls at Barclays Center, Jordan was pressed by one media member about outside speculation that the Nets separated with Atkinson because new players such as Irving or Durant wanted Brooklyn to do so.
Asked about Irving's potential factor into the Nets' decision on Atkinson, Jordan noted that the Nets have new players throughout the roster, such as Wilson Chandler and Garrett Temple. On the same reporter's third question, Jordan appeared to be fed up.
"No, I think what you're saying, and whatever the reports are, are b------t," Jordan said.
SNY's Ian Begley reported Saturday morning that some Nets players felt Atkinson lost a portion of the locker room recently. While there was nothing concrete reported about influences from specific players, Yahoo Sports' Vincent Goodwill reported Saturday evening that Irving prefers former Cleveland Cavaliers head coach and current Los Angeles Clippers assistant Tyronn Lue as the Nets' replacement for Atkinson. Durant, meanwhile, most recently spoke publicly Tuesday on the YES Network broadcast during the Nets' 118-79 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies and said before the season that he held Atkinson in high regard entering his four-year deal with Brooklyn.
"We're confident," Durant said Wednesday. "We've got players on this team that can definitely go out and have big nights any night, and when you have that talent on the floor, you give yourself a chance. We've got good coaching. We've got a great bench. We're looking forward to just bringing that all together. It's going to be tough as we go on the season and try to get that thing together, so it's a process, looking forward to it."
There's some rumors that KD/Kyrie caused Kenny's firing- SNY (@SNYtv) March 9, 2020
DeAndre: That's 🤬 pic.twitter.com/kg76gHRe2A
General manager Sean Marks, who entered the Nets' rebuild with Atkinson in the spring of 2016, said Saturday at a press conference that the decision to move on did not involve Irving or Durant anymore than the other players on the roster.
"This didn't involve the players," Marks said. "In this matter, it was really a discussion between Kenny and myself. We brought in ownership when we needed to and we arose at this decision. This was purely amicable and mutually agreed upon between those parties."
Jordan felt that any speculation to the contrary is nothing but an attempt to deter the Nets from success, underlining how Irving (right shoulder impingement) and Durant (ruptured right Achilles) are both out for the season and not always with the team.
"That's exactly what it is -- they're just trying to get into the locker room, make it a thing about the guys who aren't even here playing, who are getting healthy," Jordan said. "That's what we need to focus on. It's those guys getting back right, so they can help our team to be successful. I mean, no offense you guys, I don't care what the media says about our team. We know what's going on in here, where we want to be and this is just something to divide us as players and as an organization."
Under the direction of interim head coach Jacque Vaughn, the Nets (29-34) are still on track for the playoffs, sitting at seventh in the Eastern Conference standings.
Congrats on the first win, coach 👏👏 pic.twitter.com/8bXdjLGd5k- SNY (@SNYtv) March 8, 2020
Brooklyn is sure to be tested the rest of the way, starting a four-game West Coast road trip Tuesday at 10:30 p.m. ET against the Lakers (49-13) from Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Jordan, a 12th-year center in his first of four years with Brooklyn, sees the upcoming challenge as a test for the Nets to come closer together.
"We bond anyway," he said. "So regardless of anything -- regardless of wins, losses -- we genuinely enjoy hanging out with each other. So we'll use this time to build our cameraderie, jell and learn JV a little bit more, but also compete."