Warriors Asst. Coach Makes Shocking Decision After Taking Hornets Job

Kenny Atkinson

Getty Kenny Atkinson coaches in a game against the Charlotte Hornets.

Kenny Atkinson has changed his mind about becoming the next head coach of the Charlotte Hornets, a new report claims.

The Golden State Warriors assistant coach had accepted an offer to take Charlotte’s job during the NBA Finals, but ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Atkinson got cold feet amid discussions with the Hornets.

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

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Atkinson, Hornets Had Agreed to Deal

As ESPN’s Wojnarowski reported, Atkinson and the Hornets had agreed in principle to a four-year contract but had not finalized all the details. Had he taken the Charlotte job, it would have been the fourth move in the last three years for Atkinson, who was fired as the Brooklyn Nets head coach in March 2020 and then took assistant jobs with the Los Angeles Clippers and Warriors.

As Wojnarowski reported, Atkinson told both the Hornets and Warriors of his decision on Saturday and will return to his position as the top assistant in Golden State. It came as a shock to the Hornets, Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer tweeted.

“Kenny Atkinson had phoned all of Charlotte’s assistant coaches, and was planning to meet with every Hornets staffer next week after arriving in town ahead of the NBA Draft. Certainly a stunning turn of events,” he wrote.

Atkinson Explains His Love for Golden State

Atkinson had indicated that it was a very difficult decision whether to leave Golden State. In an interview with Heavy.com’s Steve Bulpett on June 8, just before he accepted the Charlotte job, Atkinson said he was happy to be getting head coaching interviews but loved his life in the Bay Area.

“It’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,” he said.

“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.”

Atkinson added that he has a great relationship with Warriors head coach Steve, saying he would often text the Warriors coach while he was in Brooklyn asking advice on aspects of their offense. When get got the opportunity to join Kerr’s staff, Atkinson said he jumped on it.

I’m not one to sit around, so I was like, let’s go somewhere and learn. The Clippers and Ty were great for that, and now with the Warriors, too. The only problem, especially here, I feel like I’m stealing. I keep telling everybody, like, this thing is rolling. I’m just kind of here and it’s great. Sure I’m doing my job all that, but that’s the real opportunity — the opportunity to work for a great program, a great coach, great staff. I mean, I’m just pinching myself. I’ve been lucky with the choices and lucky that great opportunities have presented themselves. I could have definitely made a wrong one, but this has turned out pretty cool.

Atkinson’s decision to stay will give a measure of continuity for Kerr’s staff, as assistant Mike Brown will be leaving to become the head coach of the Sacramento Kings.

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