Kenny Atkinson opts to stay with NBA champions Golden State Warriors rather than taking up offer of four-year deal with Hornets; Charlotte and Utah the only two NBA teams with no head coach in place
Kenny Atkinson will not be the next coach of the Charlotte Hornets, electing instead to stay with the NBA champion Golden State Warriors, according to reports.
ESPN reported that after accepting Charlotte’s job offer during the NBA Finals last week, further conversations with the organisation led Atkinson to renege on the agreement he had in principle to sign a four-year contract with the franchise.
The contract was never signed though, and Atkinson will remain with Golden State as an assistant coach instead.
Atkinson’s decision means Charlotte joins Utah as the only two NBA teams without coaches in place.
The Hornets have three picks, including two in the top 15, of Thursday’s draft and Charlotte may have to make the No 13, No 15 and No 45 selections without a coach.
Golden State’s players had exit interviews on Saturday ahead of the championship parade on Monday, and were thrilled Atkinson had decided to help the Warriors try to chase another championship after Thursday’s Game 6 clincher at Boston.
“That means a lot,” forward Andrew Wiggins said. “He gave up a head coaching job to come back.”
Atkinson was 118-190 in three-plus seasons as head coach of the Brooklyn Nets when that franchise was undergoing a rebuilding process. He has spent the last two seasons as an assistant, first for the Los Angeles Clippers and now the Warriors.
“We knew the amazing job Kenny did when he was in Brooklyn. That doesn’t get talked about enough,” Golden State guard Jordan Poole said. “For him to be able to bring all of the knowledge and the insight and the positive emotion and militaristic drive that he has, to already add that to a winning culture is amazing. And we got a ring because of that, He obviously is extremely invested and believes we can do it again. You want guys like that and people like that.”
Another Golden State assistant – Mike Brown – is leaving to become head coach in Sacramento.
The Hornets had talked to several other candidates in their search to replace James Borrego, who was fired in April at the end of his fourth season.
Darvin Ham, Mike D’Antoni and Terry Stotts were known to be on Charlotte’s radar. Ham was hired as coach of the Los Angeles Lakers. It’s unclear whether D’Antoni or Stotts would still be interested in Charlotte, or whether the Hornets intend to approach either again.