Lakers get permission to interview Warriors assistant Kenny Atkinson for head coaching job, per report


The Los Angeles Lakers have received permission to interview Golden State Warriors assistant Kenny Atkinson for her job as an open head coach Adrian Wojnarowski. Atkinson is the fifth candidate to be interviewed for the position, after Bucks assistant Darvin Ham, Raptors assistant Adrian Griffin, former Blazers coach Terry Stotts and former Warriors coach Mark Jackson.

Atkinson spent three and a half seasons as coach of the Brooklyn Nets and was very successful in that position. He took a team with very few draft picks and fewer established veterans and helped build them into the sort of franchise that could attract established stars like Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. In a way, this growth proved to be Atkinson’s downfall. Suddenly, just making the playoffs with a young team wasn’t enough, and he had to cultivate relationships with some of the NBA’s best and most demanding players. He never managed to form that connection with Irving and Durant, but after spending the last few years assisting teams of similar talent, he may be better equipped this time to do so with LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

Atkinson is best known for his work as a development coach. He made his mark under Mike Budenholzer in Atlanta and has done some of the best development work in basketball, particularly in the last two seasons. He spent the 2020-21 season under Ty Lue with the Clippers, where he helped Terance Mann develop into one of the better young wings in the league. He joined Golden State this season and indeed young players like Gary Payton II, Jordan Poole and Jonathan Kuminga have thrived under his supervision.

When the Lakers last looked for a head coach, they only offered Lue and Frank Vogel three-year contracts. The idea was to hire a coach capable of winning in the short term without making a long-term commitment. The Lakers still have James and Davis, so they still have a chance to win right now. But the future is creeping up on this team quickly, and when interviewing candidates like Atkinson, Ham and Griffin, the Lakers seem to be looking for a candidate who fits both timelines. Lakers get permission to interview Warriors assistant Kenny Atkinson for head coaching job, per report

Justin Scacco

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