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Kenny Atkinson opts out of Charlotte Hornets head coaching job

Kenny Atkinson Hornets

(Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)

Kenny Atkinson
(Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)

Kenny Atkinson opts out of Charlotte Hornets head coaching job

Mere days after reportedly agreeing to a four-year agreement to be the Charlotte Hornets’ head coach, Former Brooklyn Nets head man and current Golden State Warriors assistant Kenny Atkinson has opted out of the job and will return to Golden State as a lead assistant, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Atkinson was a finalist for the Charlotte job along with former Denver Nuggets, New York Knicks, Los Angeles Lakers, Phoenix Suns and Houston Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni and former Atlanta Hawks, Milwaukee Bucks and Portland Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts. Wojnarowski noted that the Hornets will now reset the process.

Atkinson was one of the best head coaching candidates entering the offseason, having a good track record of developing players and implementing a formidable defensive culture. Both qualities would benefit the Hornets, who’s ranked in the bottom-third in defense leaguewide in three of the last four years. Atkinson’s 118-190 record with the Nets (2016-20) was better than it indicated, bringing one of the worst teams in the league (when he took over) to the postseason twice while helping develop the likes of Caris LeVert, Joe Harris, Spencer Dinwiddie and Jarrett Allen.

Charlotte, again, will be tasked with replacing former head coach James Borrego, who was let go after going 138-163 in four seasons with Charlotte. Borrego had consecutive play-in berths, losing by 27 and 29 points to the Indiana Pacers and Atlanta Hawks in both of those appearances, respectively.

Stotts and Portland mutually parted ways after going 402-318 in nine seasons with the organization. Stotts took Portland to the playoffs in eight of his nine years, though it made just one Western Conference Finals (2018-19) with Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum. He went a combined 115-168 with Milwaukee and Atlanta, too.

D’Antoni has a storied history as an offensive-minded head coach, most notably with the seven-seconds offense in Phoenix and a heliocentric attack surrounding James Harden in Houston. He’s won 40 or more games in 10 of the 13 full seasons he’s been head coach, including 50-plus wins seven times and 60 wins three times.

Both candidates would be good choices and fun with LaMelo Ball — especially the latter. Though I don’t blame Michael Jordan and Co. if they potentially circle back to the other candidates — including ones they might’ve already interviewed — to further gauge the market.

This is a breaking news story. Stay tuned for updates.

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