Nets general manager Sean Marks told reporters at the team's Brooklyn practice facility that the decision to part ways with Atkinson came after multiple discussions between them about the direction of the team.
"I would have loved Kenny to be here long term," Marks said Saturday. "I think we all have ideas that this is going to last forever, and we'll keep building this together. We had a great run for four years. We enjoyed each other, I think we grew immensely. He grew as a coach, hopefully I've grown as a GM and so forth. We made plenty of mistakes, and we had fun along the way.
"These are the circumstances. The position we find ourselves in now is, 'What helps us get it to the next level?' And I think what we debated and what we deliberated on was this was a time where the team needs another voice, and that's where we are at."
The Nets announced that assistant Jacque Vaughn will serve as interim head coach for the remainder of the season. Marks didn't provide a timetable for when the franchise would hire a replacement for Atkinson.
"We're going to let the season unfold as it does," Marks said. "Jacque is the head coach right now. Let's let these 20 games play out, and let the momentum hopefully build, and we'll go into the playoffs and go from there."
Atkinson, 52, posted a 118-190 record in three-plus seasons with the Nets. His last game was a 139-120 win over the San Antonio Spurs on Friday night.
The Nets (28-34) are in seventh place in the Eastern Conference standings. On Sunday, Brooklyn picked up a 110-107 victory over the Chicago Bulls in the team's first game without Atkinson.