Warriors Coach Stuns East Rival With Sudden Decision: Report

Kenny Atkinson (right), Warriors assistant coach

Getty Kenny Atkinson (right), Warriors assistant coach

As things lined up, it looked like the Warriors were going to be short not one, but two top NBA assistant coaches as the team wakes itself from its post-championship hangover. But that has changed, it seems, it news of a sudden and stunning turnaround from Kenny Atkinson, who had been lined up for the Charlotte Hornets job.

On Sunday morning, just three days after the Warriors won the NBA championship and Atkinson was guaranteed a title ring, word spread around the league that Atkinson had reconsidered and would not be taking the job in Charlotte.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski broke the news, tweeting, “ESPN Sources: Kenny Atkinson has decided he won’t become the Charlotte Hornets’ head coach and will remain with Golden State as top assistant. After being offered job during the NBA Finals, further conversations led Atkinson to believe it would be best to remain with Warriors.”

The Charlotte Observer reported that “family reasons” were behind Atkinson’s decision to stay with the Warriors.


Warriors Still Must Replace Mike Brown

This is, of course, good news for the Warriors, even despite the strangeness of the situation. Golden State was already preparing to hunt for one top assistant coach, with Mike Brown having taken the job in Sacramento during the Warriors’ playoff run.

Replacing two key components of the Golden State coaching staff would have been difficult. But focusing on a replacement for Brown gives head coach Steve Kerr the ability to conduct a more targeted search. Among the names that have been floated to take a spot on Kerr’s bench next year has been Villanova coach Jay Wright, who has stepped down to take another job within the university. Wright is a longshot but did coach with Kerr as an assistant with Team USA, and the two have remained friends.

The Hornets had agreed to a four-year deal with Atkinson 10 days ago, giving him a chance to get back into being a head coach for the first time since he was let go by the Nets in 2020. He had gone 118-190 in four years with Brooklyn, mostly in a developmental and rebuilding period.

Charlotte had also considered former Blazers, Hawks and Bucks coach Terry Stotts for the job, as well as Mike D’Antoni, who has coached the Rockets, Knicks, Lakers and Suns. It is unclear whether the Hornets will restart the process or pick one of those two.

 

Just before he got the job with the Hornets, Atkinson spoke to Heavy.com’s Steve Bulpett about his coaching path, which he feared had come to an end after the Nets let him go two years ago.

Even then, it seemed, Atkinson was not quite certain he wanted to leave the Warriors.

t’s a great experience being considered (for head coaching jobs), but, man, I’m in such a great place — not only from basketball, but from a living in California, the Bay Area, the whole thing. Kids love the school, wife loves it.

“So it almost takes the pressure off when you’re really in a good situation. I mean, I’m still competitive, and I try to do my best in interviewing and everything, but also in the back of my mind I’m saying, like, man, if I don’t get another shot, I’m in a great, great situation.”

 

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