NEW YORK (WFAN) — Perhaps no other word has been uttered more by new Nets coach Kenny Atkinson over the past two days than “patience.”
A day after being formally introduced as the Nets’ sixth head coach since the team moved to Brooklyn in 2012, Atkinson told WFAN’s Joe Benigno and Evan Roberts on Tuesday that the reason he believes he’ll have staying power is a new, longer-term approach that starts with new general manager Sean Marks.
“I think we can build something, and it’s not going to happen overnight,” Atkinson said. “But what I’d like to see … is steady improvement on a daily basis. I’m not going to tell you how many wins or talk about NBA championships, I’m just going to talk about steady improvement.”
The Nets went 21-61 last season — the second worst record in the Eastern Conference. With hardly any draft picks at the team’s disposal over the next few seasons, Atkinson said he knows the Nets will have to get creative to turn things around.
“We’re going to have to look under every rock, and that’s a great thing about the NBA today. I think there’s a lot of different ways to acquire players — D-League, international, free agency,” he said. “So I’m excited. I think we can get it done, and I’m ready to get to work.
“We’re going to really have a great culture here. We’re going to bring in high-character players. We’re going to try to play the right way. And I think if we get lucky in free agency a little bit and we find some undiscovered guys internationally … we can turn this thing around.”
That’s not to say Atkinson plans to blow up the roster. He said at his introductory news conference Monday that the Nets have a good mix of talented young players and veterans, namely Thaddeus Young and Brook Lopez.
Atkinson, who has a reputation for developing players, added that he believes when word spreads throughout the league about the new culture in Brooklyn, attracting difference-making free agents will become easier.
“Words are cheap. We have to put it into action now,” he said. “This is a very small niche, a small league, and word gets around if you’re doing the right things and you’re putting the right culture in place. You have a great facility, the Barclays Center, which I was blown away the first time I went there. Great arena, a great, diverse fan base. I think things can change quickly in the NBA, and we’re optimistic that we can do it. I’m not going to put a time frame on it, and again I think patience is going to be important.”
Listen to the full interview with Atkinson by clicking on the audio player above.