NBA Rumors: Kenny Atkinson Could Join LA Clippers’ Coaching Staff
Former Brooklyn Nets Coach Kenny Atkinson may be on the verge of landing his next NBA job. On Thursday, The New York Times‘ Marc Stein reported via Twitter that the 53-year-old has emerged as a prime candidate to join Tyronn Lue’s coaching staff with the Los Angeles Clippers.
Miami Heat assistant Dan Craig is also said to be a top target for Lue’s staff.
Atkinson has been seeking his next coaching opportunity since parting ways with the Nets in March of this year. Although the decision was said to be mutual, the surprising ending to what had been a successful partnership between the two parties has been labeled a firing by some. As reported by the L.A. Times Dan Woike, Brooklyn’s general manager, Sean Marks, had opined that a new voice was needed in the locker room.
Meanwhile, Woike asserted that Atkinson could have remained on the Nets’ sidelines “if [Kevin] Durant and [Kyrie] Irving wanted Atkinson to still be the coach.”
Over his four years with the franchise, Atkinson and his staff ushered in a new era of winning basketball in Brooklyn, directing the club to its first postseason berth in four years during the 2018-19 campaign. Along the way, multiple young players were developed into burgeoning stars in the league, including D’Angelo Russell — who became a first-time All-Star — Spencer Dinwiddie, Caris LeVert and Joe Harris.
If he’s ultimately hired in Los Angeles, Atkinson would be assisting a star-laden squad with a bevy of veteran players and expectations to match. Last season, Doc Rivers directed the club to a 49-23 mark and a No. 2 seed in the Western Conference. However, the Clippers ultimately failed to make good on their potential in 2019-20, falling to the Denver Nuggets in the conference semifinals. As a result, Rivers and the Clippers agreed to part ways.
Following Rivers’ exodus last month, Lue — who won an NBA championship while at the helm of the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016 — was promoted to the top spot on the team’s bench. Over parts of four seasons with the Cavs, he compiled a 128-83 record and helped the organization reach three consecutive NBA Finals.
In the wake of his promotion in L.A., The Athletic‘s Shams Charania tweeted the former point guard had tapped another erstwhile floor general — Detroit Pistons legend Chauncey Billups — to be his top assistant. Former head coach Larry Drew is also expected to join the unit as an assistant.
As shared previously by The Inquisitr, Atkinson has been considered a candidate for several head-coaching positions recently, including the New Orleans Pelicans’ previously open job.