Warriors Lose Second Assistant to NBA Head Coaching Job: Report

Golden State Warriors Coaches

Getty Steve Kerr Head Coach of the Golden State Warriors talks to members of his staff against the Washington Wizards at the Capital One Arena on March 27, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

The Golden State Warriors are about to lose their second assistant coach in as many months to another NBA franchise.

While the Warriors prepared to take on the Boston Celtics in Game 3 of the NBA Finals on Wednesday, June 8, Golden State assistant coach Kenny Atkinson was meeting with Charlotte Hornets owner Michael Jordan and the rest of team’s front office about assuming the role of head coach for their franchise.

According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, that deal is now done.

“Atkinson met with Charlotte Hornets officials — including Michael Jordan — on Wednesday and the franchise has decided on the former Nets coach as its new head coach, sources said,” Charania tweeted Friday. “Atkinson brings development and defensive structure to a young and talented roster.”

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Atkinson Was Bound to Get Another Shot at NBA Head Coaching Job

Kenny Atkinson

GettyKenny Atkinson, former head coach of the Brooklyn Nets, looks on during a game against the Charlotte Hornets, the team he will now lead from the sideline. 

Atkinson is highly regarded in NBA circles after the work he did across four seasons as head coach of the Brooklyn Nets.

A young and plucky team when he took over, Atkinson helped develop players like future NBA All-Star Jarret Allen, Spencer Dinwiddie, Caris LeVert and Joe Harris. The Nets went on to a record of 42-40 in 2018-19, Atkinson’s third year as head coach. That performance earned the team a trip to the playoffs as the No. 6 seed in the Eastern Conference, where they lost in the first round to the Philadelphia 76ers (4-1).

The Nets signed both Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving the following offseason, after which Atkinson served one more season before he was ousted and eventually replaced by former two-time NBA MVP Steve Nash.

Atkinson caught on as an assistant coach with the Los Angeles Clippers in 2021 before joining head coach Steve Kerr as a member of the Golden State staff for this season. Atkinson described his relationship with Kerr in an interview with Heavy.com’s Steve Bulpett earlier this month.

So me and Steve have had this connection for a long time. When I was in Brooklyn, we would like bounce stuff off each other. It started off with me, asking him, ‘How do you guys pass the ball so well? I want the Nets to pass it like you.’ And their off-ball screening. They were one of the first and best at, in transition, screening off the ball. I asked him that, so I think I kicked it off, and then after that he would call me, and, ‘What do you do in the zone?’ Like that.

We just we just began this back and forth text and sometimes calls, which is weird, right? We’re both head coaches and competing, but he’s the most curious guy I’ve ever met and most curious coach I’ve ever met. It’s insane how curious he is.

Atkinson Second Warriors Assistant to Get Head Coaching Job

Mike Brown Stephen Curry Warriors

GettyGolden State Warriors star Stephen Curry (right) and assistant coach Mike Brown (left) look on during the 2017 NBA Finals.

Atkinson is not the only Warriors assistant and former NBA head coach who will get another shot with a new franchise come the 2022-23 regular season.

Mike Brown, who has been at Kerr’s side for the past six seasons, also has previous experience as head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Los Angeles Lakers. He was hired as the head coach of the Sacramento Kings on May 9, but on the condition that he would remain with Golden State for the rest of this playoff run.

And it’s not the first time a former head coach headed to Golden State, rehabilitated their reputation and got back into the head coaching game. Alvin Gentry joined the Warriors’ staff in 2014-15 and became head coach of the New Orleans Pelicans the following season.

An Eastern Conference executive invoked Gentry’s name during an interview with Heavy.com’s Sean Deveney during an interview conducted while Brown was in talks with the Kings.

“We saw it with Alvin Gentry, the Warriors are a great team to go to if you want to sort of revive your reputation as a coach,” the executive said. “Sit next to Steve Kerr, have the team play great D, score a lot of points, and suddenly everyone wants you again.”

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