Atkinson out in Brooklyn as sides agree to part

The Brooklyn Nets and head coach Kenny Atkinson are parting ways, the team announced Saturday morning.

“After discussions with Kenny about the progress of the season, we mutually agreed that a coaching change would be in the best interest of the team,” general manager Sean Marks said in a statement. “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.”

Assistant coach Jacque Vaughn will serve as the team’s head coach for the rest of the season. Brooklyn next plays Sunday at home against the Chicago Bulls.

At 28-34, the Nets are seventh in the Eastern Conference standings, despite injuries to free-agent acquisitions Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. Durant will miss the entire season while he recovers from a torn Achilles tendon. Irving, who played in 20 games, underwent arthroscopic surgery Tuesday to fix an impingement in his right shoulder and will miss the rest of the season.

According to ESPN’s Basketball Power Index, the Nets have a 99.5% chance of reaching the playoffs. Atkinson would have been the first Nets coach to coach in back-to-back postseasons since Lawrence Frank from 2005-07.

Atkinson took over the rebuilding Nets for the start of the 2016-17 season and compiled a 118-190 record in three-plus seasons. After consecutive seasons of over 50 losses to begin his tenure, Atkinson led Brooklyn to its first playoff appearance in four years last season.

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