Cavaliers Expected to Hire Warriors Assistant Kenny Atkinson as New Head Coach

Kenny Atkinson during his time with the Brooklyn Nets
Kenny Atkinson during his time with the Brooklyn Nets. Image by Tdorante10/Wikipedia

Golden State Warriors assistant Kenny Atkinson is expected to become the new head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Atkinson has accepted the job, and the two sides are currently working on contract details. The Cavaliers had moved on from head coach J. B. Bickerstaff despite finishing as the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference and reaching the second round of the playoffs.

Atkinson has been serving as a top assistant under Warriors’ head coach Steve Kerr since 2021. He was a prominent candidate for several head coaching jobs in recent years and even accepted the position with the Charlotte Hornets before changing his mind.

Atkinson was previously a head coach with the Brooklyn Nets. He spent three and a half seasons with the franchise, posting a 118-190 record before stepping down towards the end of the 2019–20 campaign. During his tenure, the Nets made playoffs once.

The Cleveland Cavaliers reportedly had Atkinson and New Orleans Pelicans’ assistant James Borrego as their main two candidates for the head coaching vacancy. They ended up going with Atkinson due to his track record of developing young talent.

The Cavs now hope that Atkinson can get the best out of their young forward Evan Mobley. They also believe that his familiarity with center Jarrett Allen and small forward Caris LeVert, whom he coached in Brooklyn, will be an added benefit.

Cleveland will now likely shift their focus to getting their superstar Donovan Mitchell signed to a long-term extension. Mitchell can become a free agent after the 2024-25 season by rejecting his player option.

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