As of Saturday, the Kenny Atkinson Nets era is officially over as he will no longer work as head coach in Brooklyn, even as the team appears to be headed for a playoffs run.
Meanwhile, the team Brooklyn Nets have an interim coach in Jacque Vaungh who is a former NBA and college player with coaching experience.
Kenny Atkinson, Nets part ways
Per an ESPN report on Saturday morning, it was a mutual parting of the ways between Kenny Atkinson and the Brooklyn Nets.
A statement from general manager Sean Marks indicated that the Nets organization and Atkins believed a change in terms of coach “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 foundation he helped put into place here is one that we will continue to build on in the coming seasons,” the statement said.
Atkinson began coaching the Brooklyn Nets back in 2016, with the team going 20-62 and missing the playoffs. They’d miss them again in 2017-18 with a 28-54 record. However, the 2018-19 season brought a 42-40 record and their Atkinson’s first postseason appearance behind All-Star D’Angelo Russell.
This current season, the team is 28-34 and is sitting at No. 7 in the Eastern Conference. However, they’ve been without Kevin Durant, an offseason acquisition, due to his recovery from his torn Achilles injury and surgery. In addition, the team lost Kyrie Irving to season-ending surgery last month.
The team recorded a 139-120 victory under Atkinson against the San Antonio Spurs on Friday. At the post-game press conference, Atkinson spoke of his team’s “great” effort following the victory.
Former player and coach Vaughn to serve as interim coach
With Atkinson out, it means that former player Jacques Vaughn will serve as the team’s interim coach. Vaughn was a star point guard for the University of Kansas from 1993 to 1997. He was not only a standout and played all four years for the Jayhawks but also was a two-time Academic All-American.
He’d become the No. 27 pick in the 1997 NBA Draft and go on to enjoy a 12-year career in the league. Vaughn started out with Utah before having stints with the Atlanta Hawks and Orlando Magic. He’d play for the then-New Jersey Nets for two seasons (2004-2006) before finishing his career with the San Antonio Spurs.
Vaughn’s career stats included 3,463 points along with 1,919 assists, 1,028 rebounds, and 403 steals. He added a championship ring to his NBA career resume in 2007 with the Spurs during LeBron James’ first-ever Finals appearance.
Vaughn not only brings his days of playing experience to the team but also coaching experience. He was an assistant with the Spurs in 2010-11 and 2011-12 before being hired as head coach for the Orlando Magic. He’d coach the team for just over two and a half seasons before being fired. During that time, his record was 58-158 with no playoff appearances.
Jacque Vaughn szn pic.twitter.com/HZpseXgpgS
— Steve Franklin (@MyGuySteve) March 7, 2020
For the past four seasons, Vaughn has been an assistant coach alongside Atkinson so he should be able to handle things in the interim just fine.
Jacque Vaughn will get to go for his first win as Nets interim coach as his team takes on the Chicago Bulls on Sunday at 3 p.m. Eastern Time.