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Kerr, report explains why Kenny Atkinson backed out of Hornets head coaching job

© Brad Penner | 2020 Mar 4

With only 30 gigs available, it’s nearly unheard of that a candidate will back out after being offered an NBA head coaching job. Yet, that’s what happened with Warriors assistant coach Kenny Atkinson, who decided to stay on the Warriors bench after reports that he’d been offered a four-year deal with the Charlotte Hornets.

So what happened? A recent report and some comments from Steve Kerr have brought some clarity.

Citing league sources, Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer said the Hornets were stunned by Atkinson’s decision, which took place in large part when the two sides were unable to come to an agreement on compensation for Atkinson’s assistant coaches. Charlotte is known to be one of the league’s bottom five teams for coaching salaries, and wanted to keep many of their assistants — with one year remaining on their contracts — in place.

There were also the real life consequences of the move. Steve Kerr believes Atkinson had second thoughts about moving his family to a new city for the third time in three seasons.

“We’re in a great place. We’ve got great players. We live in a beautiful part of the country,” Kerr said during the Warriors championship parade. “Kenny’s got two kids, you know, teenagers who really wanted to stay, and I think that’s a really difficult thing to try to take a job in the middle of the Finals without really getting a chance to unwind.

“And I think over the course of the Finals, he just felt like, ‘You know what, this is not the best time for my family and me to leave.’ So I’m glad that Kenny trusted his gut, and hopefully Charlotte ends up with a great coach and everybody moves forward.

“But we’re lucky to have him back, especially losing Mike Brown next year. I need Kenny and I’m thrilled he’s back.”

The loss of Mike Brown also benefits Atkinson, as he will move up a chair into the lead assistant role behind Kerr. Some have speculated that Atkinson wanted to be in a position to replace Kerr in the coming years, but there remains no indication that Kerr is looking to step aside anytime soon.


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