Kenny Atkinson, who is currently an assistant coach with the Warriors, recently traveled to Toronto for an in-person interview for the Raptors‘ head coaching job, reports Marc Stein at Substack.
A longtime NBA assistant who has spent time with the Knicks, Hawks and Clippers, Atkinson was the head coach of the Nets from 2016-20, accruing a 118-190 record (.383) over parts of four seasons. He has been with the Warriors for the past two seasons.
The Nets improved their win total in each of Atkinson’s first three seasons, making the playoffs in ’18/19. Known as a player development guru, the 55-year-old had a verbal agreement to become Charlotte’s head coach last offseason, but backed out of the arrangement before it was finalized, citing family considerations as a factor in his decision.
Atkinson was a finalist for Milwaukee’s coaching vacancy, which ultimately went to Adrian Griffin, and also interviewed or was expected to interview this spring for the previous openings in Houston and Phoenix.
The Raptors have been very secretive about their search for a new lead coach this offseason after dismissing Nick Nurse. However, they are reportedly in the final stages of interviews and are expected to hire a new coach relatively soon.
According to Stein, since Atkinson interviewed at this juncture, he’s believed to join a group of finalists that includes Virtus Bologna head coach Sergio Scariolo, Kings associate head coach Jordi Fernandez, and Grizzlies assistant Darko Rajakovic. Sources tell Stein that Scariolo’s second interview was set for “as early as Monday,” though it isn’t clear if he’ll be traveling to Toronto, since his Italian team is about to begin its championship series Friday.
As Stein writes, there’s no real consensus about which coach the Raptors might favor. Some view Scariolo as the frontrunner due to his ties to the organization, having served as an assistant under Nurse for three seasons, but Stein hears Fernandez is also a “name to watch.”