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Kenny Atkinson not looking back at loss of first-round picks

Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson looks on

Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson looks on against the Boston Celtics during the first half of an NBA basketball game at Barclays Center on Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2016. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Whenever the Nets face the Celtics, as they did Wednesday night at Barclays Center, Nets fans cringe at the 2013 trade in which they mortgaged their future by sending three first-round picks (2014, 2016, 2018) to Boston and agreed to swap first-round picks in 2017 as part of a deal for Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce.

That’s the albatross new general manager Sean Marks and coach Kenny Atkinson inherited last spring, but Atkinson insisted he doesn’t look with envy at Celtics rookie Jaylen Brown, who was drafted with the Nets’ third overall pick last June.

“It’s not even in my mindset,” Atkinson said. Listing some of the Nets’ free agents and the first-round pick they acquired last June, the coach added, “The way I look at it is that Joe Harris is our draft pick, Justin Hamilton is our draft pick, Caris [LeVert] is our draft pick. That’s part of the past. Every guy we sign, we’ve got to help them turn into a first-round pick.”

According to the ESPN Basketball Power Index, the Nets are projected to win 24.2 games this season, leaving them with a 17.8 percent chance to get the No. 1 overall pick, a 50 percent chance to be top three and a 99.6 percent chance of a top-10 pick.

Double-duty for McCullough

Forward Chris McCullough started Wednesday afternoon for the Long Island Nets D-League team in their home-opening 107-102 loss to the Canton Charge at Barclays Center. He scored 21 points and added four rebounds. McCullough was recalled to the NBA Wednesday night and became the fourth player ever to appear in a D-League and NBA game in the same day, playing the final 1:59 against the Celtics . . . Rondae Hollis Jefferson suffered a second-quarter injury to his right ankle and did not return because of soreness, but X-rays were negative . . . Isaiah Whitehead hurt his left hand in a collision with Boston’s Al Horford, but X-rays were negative.

New York Sports