According to various reports, Kenny Atkinson will be headed west, to join Ty Lue’s staff with the Clippers. Although pundits thought Atkinson’s long record of player development from Jeremy Lin with the Knicks to D’Angelo Russell would lead to another head coaching gig, a lot of the open jobs went to big names.
Lue, who replaces Doc Rivers in L.A., is reportedly adding Atkinson, Heat assistant Dan Craig, veteran Larry Drew and perhaps Chauncey Billups.
Marc Stein of the Times was first with the news of both Atkinson and Craig’s hiring.
Atkinson coached the Nets for three plus years, taking the team to the playoffs once and the brink of the playoffs this year before the Nets and he parted ways just before the NBA shut down in March. Jacque Vaughn replaced him in an interim role and Steve Nash was hired as his replacement last month.
Although the decision was painted as mutual, the general belief was that he had lost the trust of the team’s two superstars, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. His final record with the Nets: 118-190. In addition to serving as an assistant with the Knicks, the Long Island native also served as an assistant with the Rockets.
Of course, player development was seen as Atkinson’s forte. Caris LeVert, Jarrett Allen, Joe Harris and Spencer Dinwiddie all excelled during his time in Brooklyn. And although Mike D’Antoni was largely credited with LinSanity, Lin himself praised Atkinson’s work.
Although the Clippers haven’t officially confirmed the hire, Lue spoke last week about what he wanted in an assistant coach.
“Being able to do multiple things, not just, you know, one thing or focus in on defense and that’s all they can do or focus in on offense and that’s all they can do,” Lue said during his introductory press conference.
“I want to make sure that picking the coaching staff, we have guys that can do multiple things, because I want to build the best staff. I want to be the best coach. I want to see our coaches move on to be head coaches in the future.”
The Clippers, who acquired Paul George and Kawhi Leonard a year ago, was disappointing n the playoffs. losing in the second round, after being pegged as a potential NBA champion. Atkinson’s development skills will be needed in L.A. He’ll have to find diamonds-in-the-rough because the team front office dumped a lot of future picks (just like the Nets) to acquire George in particular.
- Ex-Nets coach Kenny Atkinson could find himself with Clippers - Brian Lewis - New York Post
- Source: Clippers hire ex-Nets coach Atkinson as assistant - Greg Logan - Newsday
- Tyronn Lue close to adding three assistants to Clippers’ staff - Andrew Greif - Los Angeles Times