The Charlotte Hornets made a surprising decision to hire Kenny Atkinson as their new head coach. The news comes after multiple reports previously indicated that two-time NBA Coach of the Year Mike D’Antoni is locked in to get the Hornets job.
Atkinson, who is serving as an assistant on Steve Kerr’s staff with the Golden State Warriors this season, agreed to a four-year deal, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
The Hornets were conducting a head-coaching search after firing James Borrego back in April. Borrego was let go after going 138-163 during his four years at the helm, which included no playoff appearances.
After considering a number of candidates in previous months, Charlotte’s front office zeroed in on Atkinson and D’Antoni as the finalists for the job. Both men had several rounds of interviews with management and then met with Hornets’ owner Michael Jordan. Apparently, Atkinson did a better job of impressing the Hall of Famer, as he was offered the job just a few days later.
Kenny Atkinson spent his playing career in Europe, where he also got his first taste of coaching as an assistant. He came to NBA in 2008 as an assistant to D’Antoni with the New York Knicks, staying four years on the job before taking the same position on Mike Budenholzer’s staff with Atlanta Hawks.
In 2016, Atkinson was selected to be the next head coach of the Brooklyn Nets. He would go on to spend four-and-a-half years on the job before resigning midway through the 2019–20 season. His legacy in Brooklyn included a 118-190 record and one playoff appearance.