The Brooklyn Nets introduced new head coach Kenny Atkinson to the media and fans — and it was well worth the wait. Atkinson, a former assistant coach with the Atlanta Hawks, was given a warm introduction by general manager Sean Marks at HSS Training Center Monday afternoon.
Marks cited the importance of Atkinson in the team’s development moving forward and called him the “clear cut” number one choice for head coach.
In attendance were current Nets players Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Sean Kilpatrick, Chris McCullough, Markel Brown, and Thaddeus Young. Atkinson acknowledged the attending players, pointed Young out as “my guy,” and was excited to finally begin working with them.
Brook Lopez could not attend, but Atkinson mentioned they’ve recently chatted on the vision for the team.
On his plans for the franchise, Atkinson noted that they’d like to “build a sustainable club that is going to be patient, but looking to improve over the long term.”
In discussing his future staff, Atkinson said: “I’m excited about that, having a great staff.” Additionally, in doing so, he confirmed that Jacque Vaughn will serve as his lead assistant.
Atkinson also thanked the Atlanta Hawks organization, noting his emotion in discussing the importance of his coaching tree and influences. After hearing that Marks was made general manager of the franchise, Atkinson said: “I think like I said when I heard Sean got the job and I said it in my opening statement, there’s certain people you gravitate towards in the business and people you share ideas with.
“Over the years, I’ve shared ideas with Sean and during the interview process, this is the guy I’d like to work with. So quite honestly, I said ‘I wanna pursue this!’
“So I was very aggressive in pursuing it.”
Asked whether the Nets want to model after the San Antonio Spurs, Atkinson responded: “Definitely.” Marks agreed, adding: “This isn’t San Antonio. This isn’t Atlanta. This is Brooklyn and we’re going to make it our own.”
Moving towards his vision, Atkinson was confident in his answer:
“Build. Build patiently, intelligently, and from my standpoint, we’re going to put a competitive group first and foremost on the floor,” Atkinson said, “night after night.” Atkinson also cited the importance of player development, as it is all about caring:
“You care, you really care,” Atkinson said. “And when you care for them and treat them the right way, they will play to maximum ability.”
Atkinson ended the press conference with a sentiment towards the fans, area, and city, and left on an absolute high note: “Brooklyn really spoke to me growing up, Brooklyn is basketball.”
Without a first round pick in June’s draft, Atkinson will quickly get to work with general manager Sean Marks and owner Mikhail Prokhorov in order to retool and improve. Marks confirmed that Young and Lopez will remain with the team, but will still look to add a pick.