It seemed like Kenny Atkinson was going to depart the NBA champion Warriors for a head coaching job with the Charlotte Hornets.
But now, it seems like Atkinson has decided to stick around with the champs.
According to a report from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Atkinson will remain with the Warriors as their top assistant coach and not go to the Michael Jordan-owned Hornets to be their head coach.
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.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 18, 2022
Wojnarowski reported that “further conversations” were a factor in Atkinson’s decision to stay with Golden State — which, it’s reasonable to assume, meant the Warriors and owner Joe Lacob were ready to financially incentivize Atkinson to remain.
Atkinson previously was the head coach of the Brooklyn Nets from 2016-2020, helping Brooklyn complete a major turnaround from a 20-62 record in his first season to a 42-40 record and a playoff appearance in his third year. Before his fourth season, Brooklyn signed former Warrior Kevin Durant as well as Kyrie Irving and Atkinson seemed to be pushed out, with a mid-March resignation framed as a “mutual parting of ways.”
Atkinson spent 2020-21 as a Clippers assistant, then joined the Warriors for this past year. He was seen as a vital piece of their deep coaching bench, alongside former head coach — and soon-to-be Sacramento Kings head coach — Mike Brown.
With Brown departing for the Kings, Atkinson would be the Warriors’ likely fill-in at the head coaching role should Steve Kerr need a replacement for a game. Kerr missed three games in the Western Conference semifinals after testing positive for COVID, but he’s missed portions of seasons in the past with a variety of physical health ailments, too.
And while Kerr put on his best coaching performance of his career to help the Warriors with their fourth title in his eight years at the helm, it’s interesting to wonder if retaining Atkinson is a sign of how long Kerr wants to keep coaching.