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Nets will reportedly extend Kenny Atkinson, staff

Chicago Bulls v Brooklyn Nets

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 08: Head coach Kenny Atkinson of the Brooklyn Nets looks on during the second half of the game against the Chicago Bulls at Barclays Center on February 08, 2019 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

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Going into the season, the Brooklyn Nets were projected to be feisty but not very good. The playoffs, even in the shallow Eastern Conference, were still a year or two away.

Instead, the Nets are a .500 team (39-39), and while the playoffs are not assured — they are the seven seed, just one game ahead of nine-seed Orlando with four to play — fivethirtyeight.com gives them a 77 percent chance of making the postseason.

It’s a credit to the culture and style of team GM Sean Marks and coach Kenny Atkinson have built. Which is why it’s smart that the Nets are extending the contract of Atkinson as well as his staff, a story broken by Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Atkinson and his staff are expected to have signed agreements with the Nets in the near future, league sources said.

Atkinson has received praise from his players, admiration from his peers, and he will get some Coach of the Year votes (in a crowded field).

He has built a culture of a team that plays hard and smart. D’Angelo Russell has grown and this season developed into an All-Star player who will get paid big next summer. Players such as Spencer Dinwiddie, Jarrett Allen, Joe Harris, Caris LeVert and others have made leaps forward under Atkinson’s development.

Atkinson has helped build a culture that will have them as players to land a big name in free agency this summer. Whether they do or not, the work by Atkinson to put them in that position should be rewarded. If you’ve got a coach that good, lock him up.