In a team meeting Wednesday night, Kenny Atkinson asked the Nets to air their grievances.
Less than three days later, he was out of a job.
After arriving late to his postgame press conference Wednesday, following a brutal 118-79 loss to the Grizzlies, Atkinson described the talk as “coaches and players having a good, old-fashioned great communication.”
But it may have ultimately sped up Atkinson’s downfall. Veterans spoke out during the meeting and even Kevin Durant got involved, saying the Nets needed to “improve their habits and that they were not building the proper culture traits necessary for a title contender,” The Athletic reported Monday.
Over the weekend, The Post’s Brian Lewis reported that Atkinson realized some players were tuning him out, with Kyrie Irving believed to be among them.
Durant and Irving, who played a combined 20 games this season, never connected with Atkinson, according to the report, and indications were that they were not interested in playing for him next season. There were other players who also began to disconnect from Atkinson, the report said.
General manager Sean Marks said as much without actually saying it Saturday after firing Atkinson. He said Atkinson, who helped the Nets overachieve last season through strong player development, admitted, “My voice is not what it once was here. It’s time.”
Feeling like he may be fired this offseason anyway, Atkinson opted to get it over with now and leave on his own terms, The Athletic reported. The Nets said the sides “mutually agree to part ways.”
While players have publicly expressed their support for Atkinson and insisted none of them saw this coming — Irving and Durant have not spoken to reporters since the firing — privately they were more opinionated. During Wednesday’s airing of grievances, their critiques of Atkinson centered around wanting better communication, The Athletic reported. They wanted him to “identify roles better, communicate the team’s hierarchy better, change what needs fixing and not settle for the status quo.”
Veterans also said they wanted to see Spencer Dinwiddie “play like the player they know,” according to the report. Dinwiddie and DeAndre Jordan were later called out.
Wednesday’s meeting came 24 hours after the Nets had mounted a comeback win over the Celtics in Boston. At halftime of that game, Atkinson reportedly lit into the players and challenged them.
But they began to voice their displeasure Wednesday, with Jordan verbally expressing his frustrations to Atkinson and his staff about their rotation, according to the report. The veteran center reportedly believed he had signed in Brooklyn to be the full-time starting center over 21-year-old Jarrett Allen.
Perhaps not coincidentally, Jordan was back in the starting lineup for just the fifth time this season on Sunday in the Nets’ first game without Atkinson calling the shots, a 110-107 victory over the Bulls.