The Brooklyn Nets announced on Sunday that after much searching and interviews they have considered hiring Kenny Atkinson as their new head coach.
The 48-year old assistant coach of the Atlanta Hawks is said to formally take over as the Nets’ bench tactician after the Hawks’ playoff round stint. The Hawks are currently in the postseason with their first round assignment against the Boston Celtics.
The Nets’ team website announced that with due respect for the Hawks, a press conference will be held on a later date to formally introduce Atkinson to the Nets fans.
Atkinson will be the Nets’ 21st head coach in franchise history and he will be bringing in a long list of experience that he hopes could turn things around with the Nets, which finished this season with a 21-61 win-loss record.
“We are thrilled to announce Kenny Atkinson as our new head coach and to welcome him and his family to Brooklyn. 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, Nets General Manager Sean Marks said.
Nets team owner Mikhail Prokhorov likewise extended his warm welcome to Atkinson and stated with his mindset they could rebuild the team again to a playoff contender such as the accomplishments made by Atkinson with experiences working with the New York Knicks and the Houston Rockets, aside from the Hawks.
“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. 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,” Prokhorov added.
Sports Yahoo reported that the Nets were in contact with several candidates for the job and according to sources the team has long target Atkinson, whom they believe is most ready to take over the coaching job position. His reputation has preceded him after noticeably as a player-development coach for the Rockets and the Knicks.
This solid foundation has given him the needed push and the credibility which is much seen with the success of the Hawks over the past seasons. The Hawks are currently 1-0 in their first round playoff run with Atkinson taking the sidekick role to head coach Mike Budenholzer. Under their watch, the Hawks made a playoff appearance in the last four seasons and Atkinson together with coach Budenholzer the Hawks made their first-ever Eastern Conference Finals appearance last season.
“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. 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,” Atkinson explained.
Those credentials will be tested next season as Atkinson will now direct the traffic from the bench and it will start this summer as the Nets aim to rebuild its team hoping to snatch a superstar in the free agency market together with long-term players from the draft pool.
Long before he was named Nets head coach, Atkinson himself played the game having played professionally in Italy, France, Germany, Spain and the Netherlands from 1990 to 2004. He also tried out with the Knicks in the summer of 1991 but was not signed up as a player.
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