Golden State Warriors assistant Kenny Atkinson has agreed a four-year deal to become the Charlotte Hornets’ new head coach, sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski on Friday.
Atkinson will replace James Borrego, who was sacked in April after playing 138-163 in his four seasons with the team.
The Hornets narrowed their search to Atkinson and Mike D’Antoni. Both candidates have already had two meetings with management, including with general manager Mitch Kupchak, and then met with owner Michael Jordan this week.
Atkinson is Golden State’s second assistant coach set to leave the Warriors and take charge of a new team. Mike Brown has been hired to coach the Sacramento Kings next season. Both stayed with Golden State until the end of the NBA Finals, with Game 4 against the Boston Celtics on Friday night and Golden State trailing in a better-of-seven streak, 2-1.
Atkinson was 118-190 in his three years with the Brooklyn Nets, inherited a complete rebuild and showed improvement each season until resigning after a injury-plagued 2019-20 season. He spent the 2020-21 season with the Los Angeles Clippers as an assistant before joining Steve Kerr’s crew at Golden State ahead of this run to the NBA Finals.
Overall, he spent nine seasons as an assistant in the NBA, including four with the New York Knicks, three with the Atlanta Hawks and one with the Clippers and Warriors.
The Hornets have missed the playoffs in six consecutive seasons, the longest drought in franchise history and the second longest active streak behind the Kings (16). But Charlotte has several building blocks in a team that went 43-39 during the regular season to get into the playable game, including the All-Star LaMelo Ball and Miles Bridges, who are set to be a restricted free agent.
Last season, Charlotte struggled defensively, with 114.9 points per game, which was tied for 25th in the league. Atkinson has improved the Nets’ defensive proficiency in every season of his four-year tenure, moving them from 23rd in 2017 to ninth in 2020.
ESPN statistics and information contributed to this report.