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Nets’ Kenny Atkinson exit disappointing, but not surprising for Pistons’ Dwane Casey

Kenny Atkinson, Dwane Casey, Nets

The news that the Brooklyn Nets were parting ways with head coach Kenny Atkinson shocked folks around the league — but not Dwayne Casey. The Detroit Pistons head coach responded with a “No,” when asked if he was surprised by the split.

“I’m disappointed just in the fact that I thought Kenny did an excellent job with the team,” he added. “I’m not in their locker room, I don’t know — but I do know Kenny Atkinson’s a good coach and he’ll land on his feet.”

Casey has been on the wrong end of a controversial coaching change. The Toronto Raptors fired Casey after the 2017-18 season, despite an appearance in the Eastern Conference semifinals and a Coach of the Year Award. The Nets certainly hope their next coach finds the same level of success as Nick Nurse, who won a title in his first season as Casey’s successor in Toronto.

In his three-plus years in Brooklyn, Atkinson helped turn the franchise into a player development hub, culminating in a surprise playoff appearance in 2018-19. He had the team on track to make the postseason again this year despite a rash of injuries. Recently, the team announced that Kyrie Irving would miss the remainder of the season with a shoulder injury, limiting his inaugural campaign in Brooklyn to just 20 games.

Jacque Vaughn is serving as the Nets interim head coach through the remainder of the season. The team won their first game with Vaughn, defeating the Chicago Bulls on Sunday. Brooklyn (28-34) is the No. 7 seed in the East, leading the Orlando Magic by 0.5 games and a comfortable six games ahead of the Washington Wizards at nine.