Days after pundits speculated that the Nets would have difficulty attracting a top-flight coach, the Nets hired Kenny Atknson, one of the most sought-after candidates in the NBA.
Adrian Wojnarowski first broke the news.
Sources on @TheVertical: The Brooklyn Nets have hired Atlanta assistant Kenny Atkinson as head coach. https://t.co/kPX2u7f3FV— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojVerticalNBA) April 17, 2016
The team did not release details on contract length or salary.
"We are thrilled to announce Kenny Atkinson as our new head coach and to welcome him and his family to Brooklyn," said Sean Marks.
"Kenny’s years of NBA coaching experience working under successful head coaches such as Mike Budenholzer and Mike D’Antoni have provided him with the foundation and experience we were looking for in a head coach. We believe that Kenny’s core principles, leadership, communication skills and exceptional background in player development make him an ideal fit for the culture we are building in Brooklyn."
"I am truly honored and humbled to be named the head coach of the Brooklyn Nets, and I would like to thank Nets’ ownership and management for this tremendous opportunity," Atkinson said in a statement. "Together with Sean and his staff, we look forward to building a winning tradition here in Brooklyn.
"I also want to acknowledge and thank Mike Budenholzer and the entire Atlanta Hawks organization for their cooperation and support throughout this process. While I am eager to begin working with the Nets, I remain committed to my coaching responsibilities with the Hawks for the remainder of the postseason."
Atkinson, 48, currently will continue in this capacity as a Hawks assistant until the conclusion of Atlanta’s postseason. With respect to the Hawks and their playoff schedule, a press conference to formally introduce Atkinson will be held on a date that has yet to be determined, the Nets noted in a release.
"I’d like to extend a personal welcome to Kenny and wish all of us success as we begin a new era at the Brooklyn Nets," said Mikhail Prokhorov. "Aside from his tremendous skills and experience, he has the mindset we need to build a winning team day by day, step by step. Together, we can do great things."
Atkinson has served as an assistant in Atlanta for four years, working under Budenholzer. Marks replaced Budenholzer as a Spurs assistant when he left for the Hawks and played under Budenholzer as a player.
Said Budenholzer, "I'm happy for Kenny and excited that he's earned the opportunity to be a head coach. His competitiveness, knowledge and feel for the game, and passion for player development are all at a high level and will serve him as a head coach. WIth him and Sean in place, the Nets have a very strong foundation to build on.".
Prior to joining the Hawks, the Long Island native spent four years as an assistant with the Knicks where he helped the team reach the playoffs his final two seasons. His most notable achievement, though, was developing Jeremy Lin, who lavishly praised Atkinson's work ethic. Before the Knicks, he spent the 2007-08 campaign serving as the director of player development for the Rockets.
Like Sean Marks and Trajan Langdon, Atkinson also has international experience.
Atkinson spent three years as director of player development/assistant coach for Paris Basket Racing Club in France (2004-06) and the summer of 2006 as director of player development/assistant coach for the national team of the Republic of Georgia. He was also an assistant coach with the Ukraine national team at the European championships in 2011.
Most recently, he has been head coach of the Dominican Republic national team. Al Horford, the Hawks free agent, and Charlie Villanueva play for D.R. in FIBA competition.
The timing of the hire came as a surprise, with the Hawks in the playoffs, but Marks had said in his first week on the job that he wanted to make staff changes well before free agency began in July. "Agents and players will get wind that something different is happening [in Brooklyn]." he told WFAN's Evan Roberts.
In the past week, there were multiple reports of how the Nets would have a hard time finding a top-flight head coach, with some reporters suggesting the Ime Udoka, a Spurs assistant, would be their fall-back position. Marks, according to one league source, spoke with a number of candidates (without the media getting wind of the talks), but wanted Atkinson. Said another league source, Marks is the "ultimate salesman" and that the Nets coaching job is a lot more attractive that many pundits and fans believe.
In a NetsDaily fan poll taken shortly after Lionel Hollins and Billy King were dumped, Atkinson garnered the most votes, outpacing John Calipari and Tom Thibodeau. Atkinson received 36 percent of the vote, to Calipari's 31 and Thibodeau's 21.
- Sources: Hawks assistant Kenny Atkinson agrees to coach Nets - Adrian Wojnarowski - Yahoo Sports
- Hawks assistant Kenny Atkinson hired to coach Nets - AP
- Brooklyn Nets name Atlanta Hawks assistant Kenny Atkinson head coach - Mike Mazzeo - ESPN
- Kenny Atkinson named Nets’ new head coach - Laura Albanese - Newsday
- Nets find gem in Jeremy Lin mentor Kenny Atkinson - Frank Isola - New York Daily News
- Nets hire Hawks assistant Kenny Atkinson as new head coach - Peter Botte - New York Daily News
- Brooklyn Nets Hire Kenny Atkinson as Coach - Alex Raskin - Wall Street Journal
- Nets Hand Reins to Kenny Atkinson, a Hawks Assistant - Andrew Keh - New York Times
- Nets hire Hawks assistant Kenny Atkinson as new coach - Andy Vasquez - The Record
- Nets find their head coach in former Knicks assistant - Brian Lewis - New York Post
- - Brooklyn Nets Hire Kenny Atkinson As Head Coach - Devin Kharpertian - The Brooklyn Game
- Brooklyn Nets 2016 Offseason Primer - Devin Kharpertian - The Brooklyn Game
- Nets name Atkinson new head coach - Gregory Hrinya - Examiner.com
- Nets On The Mark With Kenny Atkinson Hiring - Steve Lichtenstein - CBS New York
- Brooklyn Nets Name Kenny Atkinson Head Coach - Brooklyn Nets
- NBA: Nets hire Kenny Atkinson as head coach (Video) - Ken Berger - CBS Sports
- Brooklyn Nets once again choose substance over star power by hiring Kenny Atkinson - Tim Bontemps - The Washington Post
- Nets name Hawks assistant Kenny Atkinson as head coach - Andrew Weinstein - Sporting News