Brooklyn Nets center DeAndre Jordan strongly disputed reports that linked coach Kenny Atkinson’s departure to the high-profile players — namely Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant — signed by the team last summer.
“Yeah, I’m close to Kyrie, but Wilson [Chandler] is a new player, Garrett Temple’s a new player,” Jordan said Sunday. “We’re all new players, so if you’re going to say new players, put it on all eight of the new players.
“I think whatever you’re saying, and whatever the reports are, are bulls—.”
The Nets announced they had “mutually agreed to part ways” with Atkinson on Saturday.
Jordan said he was “shocked” when he heard the news and that he thought Atkinson “did a great job with us.”
“The guys who had been here love him, so I’m sure it’s tough for them. At the end of the day, this is a business, coaches get fired, players get cut, get traded, whatever it is,” Jordan said.
General manager Sean Marks was asked on several occasions at his news conference on Saturday if Irving, Durant or the other players had input into the decision. Marks said it was born out of conversations between him and Atkinson.
“The same way all 17 players factored into it,” Marks said. “I just got done talking with them now and updating them.”
When asked if Atkinson would have remained in his job if the players had stood up for him, Marks said, “This is a decision that wasn’t even about Kevin, Kyrie, Caris [LeVert], Joe [Harris], Spencer [Dinwiddie], Jarrett Allen. This was a decision Kenny, myself and ownership came up with, and the players were all told this morning ahead of the release.”
LeVert, who scored 23 points Sunday in a 110-107 victory over Chicago, said it felt a little different without Atkinson but added that he “felt like [interim coach Jacque Vaughn] did a great job.”
Vaughn made some early changes to start his new tenure, notably giving Jordan the start at center over Allen. Jordan had started only four games before Sunday.
“I found out from [Vaughn],” Jordan, who had 11 points, 15 rebounds and three blocks, said of getting the start. “It was just a personnel thing, just the rhythm with certain guys. … It’s never player versus player — it’s for the betterment of the team.”
Allen, who has started 58 of the Nets’ 63 games this season, had 11 points and six rebounds in 19 minutes.