DeAndre Jordan became a starter again in the Nets’ first game after Kenny Atkinson was fired, but the veteran center’s most aggressive defense may have come postgame.

In the aftermath of the Nets shockingly firing Atkinson on Saturday, multiple reports indicated it was the team’s new players — particularly Kyrie Irving — who pushed Atkinson out. Jordan, who is close with Irving and Kevin Durant, and one of the eight new players the Nets added last offseason, pushed back on that idea.

“I think … whatever the reports are, are bulls—,” Jordan said Sunday after the Nets beat the Bulls 110-107 at Barclays Center. “I’m close with Kyrie, but Wilson [Chandler] is a new player, Garrett Temple’s a new player. We’re all new players. So if you’re going to say new players, put it on all eight of the new players.”

General manager Sean Marks insisted on Saturday that the decision to fire Atkinson — or “mutually part ways,” as the organization claimed — did not involve the players. Marks said Atkinson admitted, “My voice is not what it once was here,” but Jordan declined to say if he sensed a change was needed.

“I didn’t sense a change coming. That’s above my pay grade,” said Jordan, who signed a four-year, $40 million deal last summer to join Irving and Durant in Brooklyn.

Nets
Kevin Durant, DeAndre Jordan and Kyrie IrvingCorey Sipkin (2), EPA

“I was definitely shocked. I thought Kenny did a great job with us. This is my first year with him obviously and the guys who had been here love him, so I’m sure it’s tough for them. But at the end of the day, this is a business. Coaches get fired, players get cut, traded, whatever it is. So we still have a job to do.”


Jordan (11 points, 15 rebounds, four assists, three blocks) recorded his 13th double-double of the season in his fifth start. The 31-year-old got the nod in place of Jarrett Allen (11 points, six rebounds), the 21-year-old center who had started 58 of 62 games this season under Atkinson.

Interim coach Jacque Vaughn said he made the change because analytically they wanted Jordan and Chandler together for defensive rebounding and rim presence. And having Allen come off the bench would allow the second unit to play faster, he said.

“It was just a personnel thing, rhythm with certain guys,” Jordan said. “I don’t think it was a — it’s never player versus player. It’s just for the betterment of our team. Both of us throughout the season, JA and I, have been mature about the situation that we’ve both been put in.”


Vaughn’s first coach’s challenge was unsuccessful. Taurean Prince cleanly blocked a Thaddeus Young layup in the third quarter, but fell into him and a foul was called. Vaughn challenged but the call stood after replay review.


Temple missed his third straight game with a sprained ankle.