Kenny Atkinson has informed the Charlotte Hornets that he won’t become the franchise’s new coach and will remain with the Golden State Warriors as the top assistant, sources told ESPN on Saturday.
After accepting Charlotte’s job offer during the NBA Finals last week, further conversations with the Hornets’ organization led Atkinson to believe that both professionally and personally it would be best to remain with the Warriors, sources said.
Atkinson and the Hornets had agreed in principle to a four-year deal, but a contract was never signed, sources said.
Atkinson had already moved three times in three years — leaving Brooklyn as head coach to become an assistant in consecutive years with the LA Clippers and then Golden State. Atkinson will be returning to the newly crowned NBA champions for a second season under Steve Kerr next year.
Atkinson informed both Charlotte and Golden State of his decision on Saturday, sources said. He will become the top assistant with Golden State, who will be without Mike Brown after he accepted the head coaching job with the Sacramento Kings.
Atkinson was among three finalists to become the Hornets coach, but the only candidate to meet with owner Michael Jordan — which he did last Wednesday in Boston. Longtime NBA head coaches Mike D’Antoni and Terry Stotts were also in the final grouping of the process, and could emerge again as Charlotte general manager Mitch Kupchak restarts the search to replace James Borrego.
Atkinson was 118-190 in three-plus years with the Brooklyn Nets, inheriting a full rebuild and showing improvement each season until he resigned after an injury-plagued 2019-20 season. He spent the 2020-21 season with the LA Clippers as an assistant before joining Steve Kerr’s staff in Golden State.
Overall, he has spent nine seasons as an NBA assistant, including four with the New York Knicks, three with the Atlanta Hawks and one each with the Clippers and Warriors.
The Hornets have missed the playoffs in six consecutive seasons, the longest drought in franchise history and second-longest active streak behind the Kings (16). But Charlotte has several building blocks on a team that went 43-39 during the regular season to reach the play-in game, including All-Star LaMelo Ball and Miles Bridges, who is set to be a restricted free agent.