The Golden State Warriors‘ bench could grow even shorter after the team granted the Los Angeles Lakers permission to interview assistant coach Kenny Atkinson for their head coach opening.
The Warriors are already losing their top assistant coach after Mike Brown agreed to become the next head coach of the Sacramento Kings. They could now lose another top assistant to their Pacific Division rivals, who are looking for a new coach after parting ways with Frank Vogel following a disappointing season.
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Atkinson a Popular Pick
Atkinson, who joined the Warriors bench last offseason, has been a hot commodity this offseason. As Eric He of NBC Sports Bay Area noted, he has already interviewed for the Charlotte Hornets’ head coach opening, and now has secured an interview with the Lakers as well.
Atkinson has plenty of experience as a head coach, leading the Brooklyn Nets from 2016 to 2020 and helping to engineer a rebuild that brought on Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant. A clash of personalities ultimately led Atkinson to step down in March 2020, just before the NBA suspended the season, but Kerr said he seized on the chance to bring Atkinson on to his bench and bring some different perspectives to the coaching staff.
“Very clever. Very analytically driven,” Kerr said of Atkinson’s approach, via The Athletic. “We’ve had a lot of basketball conversations over the years and I’ve always been impressed with the way he sees and feels the game. In a way, it’s different from me.”
If he should land the Lakers job, Atkinson would be under pressure to turn around a franchise that won a title in 2020 but has struggled in the years that followed despite having two future Hall of Famers in LeBron James and Anthony Davis. The Lakers fell to 33-49 this season, missing out on the playoffs.
As ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski noted, the Lakers have already spoken with several other candidates, including Milwaukee Bucks assistant Darvin Ham, former Portland Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts, Toronto Raptors assistant Adrian Griffin and former Warriors head coach Mark Jackson.
Brown on the Way Out
The Warriors will already have some coaching changes coming next season after Brown landed the Kings’ head coaching job. The former Cleveland Cavaliers head coach will get a bit of a warm-up, taking over head coaching duties against the Memphis Grizzlies as Kerr is out with COVID-19. Brown led the Warriors to a win in Game 4 to take a 3-games-to-1 lead in the series, but the Warriors lost their chance to close out the series in a 134-95 blowout loss on May 11.
Brown has earned an endorsement from Warriors veteran Draymond Green, who said he expects the new Kings head coach to break the team’s league-leading playoff drought.
Congratulations to Mike Brown on getting the head coach (job) for the Sacramento Kings,” Green said on the latest episode of “The Draymond Green Show.” “I think the Sacramento Kings are on a (16-year) playoff drought. I have no doubt in my mind that Mike is going to take his championship pedigree, his incredible — especially defensive — mind, incredible basketball mind with an incredible staff to Sacramento with him. I think it won’t be long before that streak is broken.”