Kenny Atkinson

Haberstroh: Hard to believe Kyrie Irving didn't have say in Kenny Atkinson firing

Haberstroh: Hard to believe Kyrie Irving didn't have say in Kenny Atkinson firing

Now that Kyrie Irving's days in Boston are over, Celtics fans can sit back and watch as his new team deals with the drama that seems to follow him wherever he goes.

The Brooklyn Nets are beginning to feel the Kyrie effect. They parted ways with head coach Kenny Atkinson on Saturday after players reportedly "wanted him gone," despite the fact he has the Nets positioned to make the playoffs without both Irving and Kevin Durant.

Irving reportedly was one of those players, as he "soured" on Atkinson early in the season and prefers Tyronn Lue to be Nets head coach instead. The feeling apparently was mutual for Atkinson, as he didn't want to coach Irving and Durant.

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During Sunday's Boston Celtics-Oklahoma City Thunder game, NBC Sports' NBA insider Tom Haberstroh joined the NBC Sports Boston broadcast to provide more information about the latest Irving saga.

"From what I gather, there is a growing sense over the past several weeks that something was brewing behind the scenes, and Celtics fans know that with Kyrie Irving things are very complicated behind the scenes," Haberstroh told Abby Chin.

"On the surface, the young players have been playing very well. But there were rumblings that things were not great and that Kenny Atkinson was not happy with the situation there. And whether Kyrie Irving was behind it or not, it's hard to believe that at least he didn't have some input in the direction of the team."

As bizarre of a story it is, you'd be hard-pressed to find a Celtics fan surprised by the news. After all that unfolded during Irving's tumultuous 2018-19 season in Boston, this is just par for the course.

Irving underwent season-ending shoulder surgery last week and only played in 20 games during his first season in Brooklyn.

Jacque Vaughn will take over for Atkinson as the Nets' interim head coach. 

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NBA Rumors: Did Kyrie Irving have a hand in Nets coach Kenny Atkinson's surprise departure?

NBA Rumors: Did Kyrie Irving have a hand in Nets coach Kenny Atkinson's surprise departure?

Five days ago, Kenny Atkinson coached a Brooklyn Nets team without Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant to a stirring, come-from-behind, overtime victory over the Celtics at the TD Garden. He had steered Brooklyn to the seventh spot in the Eastern Conference and if the C's could move up to the No. 2 seed, the Nets would be back at the Garden for Game 1 of their first-round playoff series. 

They'll be in the playoffs without Atkinson, who was shown the door by Brooklyn on Saturday after four years as coach. They have "mutually agreed to part ways," the team said in a statement.

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With the surprise move came immediate speculation that Irving, now out for the season after he was limited to 20 games by a shoulder injury in his first season in Brooklyn following his stormy tenure in Boston, and Durant, out all season with a torn Achilles' after joining his friend Irving as a Nets free-agent signee, were somehow behind the departure.
 

Irving let it be known earlier this season what he thought of the current Nets roster.

Fresh off his stint as an analyst on the Celtics-Jazz telecast on Friday, former C's big man Kendrick Perkins - remember, both he and his stomach are no fan of Irving - tweeted that the Nets had done Atkinson a favor.

Look for Atkinson to resurface as an NBA head coach - in perhaps a much healthier situation? - soon, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.


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Kenny Atkinson calls Kyrie Irving 'mood swings' report 'completely false'

Kenny Atkinson calls Kyrie Irving 'mood swings' report 'completely false'

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Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson came to Kyrie Irving's defense on Tuesday after a report surfaced stating the point guard's "mood swings" were an "unspoken concern" in Brooklyn.

According to the report, noted in a column written by ESPN's Jackie MacMullan, Irving is "often unwilling to communicate with the coaching staff, front office and sometimes, even his teammates" and one particular episode occurred during the Nets' trip to China.

Atkinson says those claims couldn't be further from the truth.

"That is completely false, strictly speaking of my observations, my experience with him so far," Atkinson told reporters. "It's absolutely not true. I'm the moody one. I really am. I'm cranky and I have my ups and downs so if there's just natural human behavior where guys are up and down that's different. But from my perspective, I just give Kyrie an A+ on his consistency and his spirit. It's been great."

Watch below:

Regardless of how concerning Kyrie's behavior has been thus far, it's certainly alarming for these kinds of reports to be out there only three games into the new season. Celtics fans have already seen this same story unfold before their very eyes.

As for on the court, Irving has been... well, he's been Kyrie Irving. The ex-C's star dropped 50 points in his Nets debut, then put up 26 and 37 in his next two games. But if these off-the-court storylines continue to be a distraction, we could be looking at a similar situation in Brooklyn as to what we all witnessed during Irving's disappointing tenure in Boston.

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