The Golden State Warriors are hiring former Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson as a lead assistant under head coach Steve Kerr, according to The Athletic's Shams Charania and Anthony Slater. Atkinson had spent last season as an assistant under Ty Lue with the Los Angeles Clippers, but the Warriors recently lost one of their own top assistants, Jarron Collins, after the two sides agreed to part ways. That opened up a slot for Atkinson with Golden State, where he will join former Cleveland Cavaliers and Los Angeles Lakers coach Mike Brown as top lieutenants to Kerr.
The Clippers have now lost two of the leading voices on Lue's staff. Fellow top assistant Chauncey Billups left the Clippers to become the head coach of the Portland Trail Blazers. The Clippers place an enormous emphasis on top assistant coaches, though, and still have a deep staff under Lue led by associate head coach Dan Craig, who previously was a top assistant under Erik Spoelstra in Miami, and Larry Drew, a former head coach of the Milwaukee Bucks, Cavaliers and Atlanta Hawks. Still, with Billups and Atkinson gone, the Clippers will likely be in the market for another assistant or two.
The Warriors, meanwhile, pick up an assistant with an excellent track record of developing players. He took a Nets team with virtually no draft capital into the playoffs by helping players like Spencer Dinwiddie, D'Angelo Russell and Joe Harris grow into high-level starters. The Warriors just spent the No. 2 overall pick on James Wiseman, who had a disappointing rookie season, and they have two lottery picks in this upcoming draft. Development is at a premium for Golden State right now, and Atkinson should help on that front.
Eventually, Atkinson will likely receive another head-coaching opportunity after his success with the Nets, but for now, the Warriors are taking advantage of his availability and weakening a Western Conference rival in the process. That alone makes this a successful hire.