Hornets hire Warriors assistant Kenny Atkinson as next head coach, report says
The Charlotte Hornets hire Kenny Atkinson to replace James Borrego as head coach, according to Shams Charania. Borrego met with Hornets officials on Wednesday, including owner Michael Jordan, and then sealed the deal. Former Houston Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni was also considered a finalist for the Hornets job. Atkinson’s deal will last four years, according to Adrian Wojnarowski.
Atkinson, who came to the league under Mike Budenholzer, made a name for himself as head coach of the Brooklyn Nets from 2016 to 2020. He took over a team with virtually no draft capital or starting talent and helped to turn them into a playoff team. Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving were so impressed with Brooklyn’s rebuild that they decided to join the Nets as free agents in 2019. That turned out to be Atkinson’s downfall, however, as he didn’t failed to forge a strong relationship with his new veterans and was eventually fired. midway through the 2019-20 season.
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Atkinson is considered one of the best talent developers in the NBA. His track record at virtually every stop supports that notion. In Brooklyn, he helped turn Caris LeVert, Spencer Dinwiddie and D’Angelo Russell into three of basketball’s best young guards. He then joined the Los Angeles Clippers as an assistant, and Terance Mann became one of the best players of the 2021 post-season under his guidance. He spent that season with the Golden State Warriors, and it’s no coincidence that young players like Jonathan Kuminga, Moses Moody and Gary Payton II have thrived with him in the building.
The Hornets have one of the youngest rosters in the NBA, and now Atkinson will be tasked with helping them become a playoff team. Borrego was unable to do so largely due to the team’s defensive issues. Charlotte never had a top-notch starting center during Borrego’s tenure, and finding one for Atkinson will be a priority going forward. The Hornets have lost in the play-in round in consecutive seasons. Atkinson is currently coaching the Finals, and the Hornets are hoping he can bring some of that winning momentum with him to Charlotte when he takes over next season.