Kendrick Perkins Endorses Tyronn Lue As Next Nets Head Coach

Was Kyrie's HC When Cavaliers Won 2016 NBA Finals

Joe & Evan
March 09, 2020 - 6:05 pm

Kendrick Perkins, RADIO.COM Sports NBA analyst and former NBA champion with the Boston Celtics, joined Joe Benigno and Evan Roberts on WFAN to discuss the Nets parting ways with head coach Kenny Atkinson, who could replace Atkinson in Brooklyn, the NBA MVP race and much more.

"Do I think KD (Kevin Durant) and Kyrie (Irving) played a part in Kenny leaving and them having a say on what coach they wanted in the future?," Perkins explained. "Absolutely. But I don't think they were the only two guys that were frustrated with coach Kenny."

Atkinson, who was rewarded with a contract extension in April 2019, went 118-190 in 3½ seasons with Brooklyn. The Nets were 28-34 this season at the time of the decision, were in seventh place in the Eastern Conference and had lost five of their last seven, although they soundly beat the San Antonio Spurs 139-120 on Friday night.

"I think it was mutual," Perkins said. "I think Kenny wanted to go about things his way and the Nets wanted to do it another way, another style. This reminds me of the Cleveland Cavaliers and the David Blatt hire. Kenny Atkinson when he got this Nets job, he was brought in to develop culture, develop young guys and winning basketball. He didn't think a year or two later he was going to be acquiring Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. I think it changed everything in my opinion."

Now that the Atkinson era in Brooklyn is over, the conversation naturally shifts to who will replace him. Jacque Vaughn, one of Atkinson's assistants, has been named interim head coach for the remainder of the season. He picked up his first win as head coach in the Nets' 110-107 victory over the Chicago Bulls on Sunday night at Barclays Center.

"There's only one guy I feel (should be the next head coach) and that's Tyronn Lue," Perkins said. He's in the top 10 already. Kyrie Irving had his best years of his NBA career under Ty Lue in my opinion and Kyrie hit the biggest shot, one of the biggest shots in NBA history with a play drawn up by Ty Lue. Ty Lue has been around stars his whole NBA life: starting with Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O'Neal, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce Ray Allen, coached Lebron James, has been coached by Phil Jackson... he's a winning coach. Him and Kyrie went to three straight finals together. There's no other person who you could put in Brooklyn that could handle the situation, handle KD and Kyrie like Ty Lue."

Legendary head coach Gregg Popovich, who has coached the San Antonio Spurs since 1996 (also spent four years as an assistant coach for them from 1988-92), is in the final year of his current contract with San Antonio. Rumors have been swirling that Popovich could be a strong fit to coach the star-studded Nets come 2020-21. Perkins isn't buying it.

"Do you think Gregg Popovich is leaving his 15-20,000 sq. foot house he has in San Antonio with probably 440 acres in land? He can chill and be part of the Spurs organization. Gregg Popovich ain't trying to move. He's like those old people like my grandparents ... they just not gonna change. Old people are stuck in their ways.

Atkinson, who grew up on Long Island, was a Knicks assistant for five seasons from 2008-12. His name has been thrown into the pool to be the next coach of the crosstown Knickerbockers.

"The top candidates should be Atkinson and Tom Thibodeau," Perkins explained. "That's what I think. Both of those guys have proved they can go to an organization, rebuild, establish culture and win. Not win championships but establish a winning culture ... those two guys have to be on the Knicks' list. The Knicks cant turn down anybody. Let's be honest. They have to interview everybody. They don't have no room for error."

Perkins also believes LeBron James, not Giannis Antetokounmpo, should be the NBA's Most Valuable Players for the 2019-20 season.

"Let's talk about LeBron James wow... Lebron James is having the best year of his career in year 17," Perkins said. "There's no other way around it. Want me to tell you why? There's not one time in LeBron's career he averaged a double-double. He's on pace to average his first double-double ever. I'm not talking about 10 and 10. I'm talking about 26 points and almost 11 assists. Let's include eight rebounds... they're number one in the West by six games. This is another thing that jumps out to me. When LeBron is off the court, the Lakers rank 29th offensively. When he's on the court, they rank second. That's a huge difference."

Click the audio player above to listen to the full Kendrick Perkins interview with "Joe and Evan".