Nets claim to ‘mutually part ways’ with head coach Kenny Atkinson

Liz Roscher | Yahoo Sports

The Brooklyn Nets have made an unexpected move. On Saturday morning, they announced that they were “mutually parting ways” with head coach Kenny Atkinson.

Assistant Jacque Vaughn will serve as interim head coach for the rest of the Nets’ season.

Nets general manager Sean Marks released a statement about Atkinson’s ostensible firing.

“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. 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. We are forever grateful for all of Kenny’s hard work and dedication to the Nets and the Brooklyn community. Kenny, Laura and the Atkinson family will always remain a part of our Nets family and we wish them nothing but the best in the future.”

Atkinson, a former college and international professional player, was hired by the Nets in 2016 after spending almost a decade on the coaching staffs of the New York Knicks and Atlanta Hawks. He has a 118-190 overall record with the Nets. Despite significant injuries to their roster this season, Atkinson has coached the team to seventh place in the East with a 28-34 record.

So why was Atkinson fired? It’s not clear, but there are reports that players weren’t happy with him.

Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant are the Nets’ biggest stars. If they’re not happy, you can bet that things will change.

See also: Kenny Atkinson’s tenure with Nets comes to surprising end, as sources say Kyrie Irving prefers Tyronn Lue to take over

LeBron James: ‘I Ain’t Playing’ If Fans Are Banned Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

“If I show up to an arena and there are no fans in there, I ain’t playing,” said the Los Angeles Laker

Lee Moran | HUFFPOST

Los Angeles Laker LeBron James isn’t down for playing basketball behind closed doors.

The NBA on Friday reportedly told its teams to prepare to play games without fans (following the lead of Italy’s Serie A soccer league and other sports organizations) in a bid to stem the spread of the coronavirus, which as of Saturday morning had killed at least 17 people in the U.S.

“Play games without the fans? No. That’s impossible. I ain’t playing,” James told reporters after the Lakers’ 113-103 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks at the Staples Center.

“I ain’t got the fans in the crowd. That’s who I play for,” James continued. “I play for my teammates. I play for the fans. That’s what it’s all about. If I show up to an arena and there are no fans in there, I ain’t playing. They can do what they want to do.

Check out the clip here:

James’ comments came just hours after the worldwide tally for infections passed the 100,000 figure. U.S. federal health officials insist, however, that the immediate health risk to the general public remains low.