- The Brooklyn Nets are looking for a new head coach after parting ways with Kenny Atkinson late last week
- Former Cavs coach Tyronn Lue is the frontrunner, while ABC/ESPN TV duo Mark Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy have been given odds as well
- Could the New York Knicks hire Atkinson to develop their young talents?
Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving signing last summer was a momentous occasion for the Brooklyn Nets. Everything changed the minute two superstars committed to the club, and within a few months, Kenny Atkinson is gone and the Nets are on the lookout for a new head coach.
The impact of Durant and Irving on Atkinson’s departure is yet to be fully revealed. It is probable, however, that the two will have a say in appointing Atkinson’s replacement. Brooklyn had reasonable NBA Championship odds before the season began, but they have climbed all year long and they are destined for a first-round exit.
This campaign doesn’t damage Atkinson’s reputation, though, and he’s immediately in contention for the New York Knicks coaching job. Both New York-based franchises are on the lookout for a new head coach.
Odds on Next Brooklyn Nets Head Coach
|Coach||Odds at BetOnline|
|Jeff Van Gundy||+500|
All Odds taken Mar. 11th
T-Lue to Brooklyn?
Lue worked with Irving in Cleveland, leading the team to the NBA title in 2016. There are mixed reports about Irving’s desire to bring Lue in. His pedigree is without question, though.
Coaching a team with LeBron James is an unrivalled challenge. Lue took over a team in turmoil, he stood up to James, earning his respect, and held the roster together through rocky periods. Under the spotlight in New York and with Durant and Irving not the easiest players to manage, the Nets should be looking for someone with experience of a similar situation. Lue has that.
Mark Jackson’s relationship with Rich Kleiman could be a key factor here. Jackson’s spell at the Golden State Warriors might have preceded a dynasty, but it wasn’t without its issues. While his appointment might make Durant happy, and would go down well with Kleiman, it seems like a huge risk for a franchise who have gone all-in on the next couple of seasons.
Another broadcaster, Jeff Van Gundy, is next in the market at +500. Van Gundy’s name appears whenever there’s a vacancy, but a return to the sideline seems unlikely. He’s been absent from NBA head coaching for a long time, and jumping into the high-pressure Nets role might not be that appealing compared to the relaxed environment of commentary.
The breakdown of talks with the Lakers suggest Lue isn’t just going to jump at a head coaching job. There will be other openings for him in the summer.
The Nets should do all they can to bring him in, though. He could be the right personality to bring the best out of Durant and Irving while keeping the rest of the team motivated.
Pick: Tyronn Lue (+125)
Odds Kenny Atkinson Becomes Knicks Head Coach
|Will Kenny Atkinson Become Next Knicks Head Coach?||Odds|
Atkinson Makes Sense
The Knicks are intertwined in the Durant-Irving situation. They were considered favorites to land the pair at points last season, and the franchise made decisions (trading Kristaps Porzingis, most notably) to bring the two in. Durant and Irving opted for the Barclays Center over Madison Square Garden, however, and another disappointing Knicks campaign has followed.
A weak free agency class could work in the Knicks’ favor. Superstar distractions are limited this summer, assuming they stay away from big trades (they have been linked with Chris Paul). It is a chance to focus on building around Mitchell Robinson and RJ Barrett alongside their first-round pick in the 2020 draft. Perhaps LaMelo Ball is their point guard of the future.
The 2020-21 season should be about player development. Few coaches in the NBA have a better track record in that regard than Atkinson. Rebuilding the franchise from the ruins, Atkinson took a bleak situation and made it into one that lured in Irving and Durant.
Players improved and results followed. That’s exactly what the Knicks need.
Who knows how the Knicks approach this. Having been embarrassed by Brooklyn last summer, maybe they would take joy in hiring their former coach. It’s just as possible, though, that they don’t want to hire someone their crosstown rivals moved on from.
Atkinson is the best man for the job. Betting on the Knicks to make the right decision is a risk, but the Leon Rose era might be different from years past.
Pick: Yes (+110)
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