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Rick Pitino was ‘shocked’ Nets fired Kenny Atkinson

Nets, Rick Pitino, Kenny Atkinson

New Iona coach Rick Pitino says he was “shocked” the Brooklyn Nets fired head coach Kenny Atkinson.

Technically, the Nets and Atkinson “mutually agreed to part ways.” But either way, Pitino didn’t understand the move:

“Shocked. If you look at his roster right now, there’s no way they’re a playoff team, and he has them in the playoffs,” Pitino told Steve Serby of The New York Post. “He took guys with no reputation, and developed them into really good basketball players. Actually would have been one of my choices for Coach of the Year.”

It is believed that most of the players on the Nets had started to grow tired of Atkinson, who had a 118-190 record over three-plus seasons with the Nets.

Kyrie Irving played in only 20 games this season because of his shoulder injury which required surgery, while two-time Finals MVP Kevin Durant didn’t play at all before the season was suspended because of his Achilles tear.

Atkinson did a good job of keeping the Nets in the playoff picture, but as we have seen before, when players tune out their coach, it can turn really ugly.

The Nets’ coaching vacancy figures to be a job a lot of coaches want since the franchise will be title contenders next season once Durant and Irving suit up together alongside fellow All-Star DeAndre Jordan. We also can’t forget about Spencer Dinwiddie, Caris LeVert and Jarrett Allen.

Guard Joe Harris becomes an unrestricted free agent, so the Nets have to decide if they want to bring him back or not.