Kenny Atkinson

Hawks Dismiss Head Coach Nate McMillan

5:01pm: The Hawks have issued a press release, confirming McMillan’s dismissal as well as Prunty’s promotion to interim head coach.

“I would like to thank Nate for his leadership and professionalism during his time with the Hawks. He is truly a class act, and we appreciate the graciousness and work ethic he brought with him every day,” Hawks GM Landry Fields said. “Decisions like these, especially in-season, are always extremely difficult, but we believe it’s in the best interest of our team to move forward with another voice leading the way.”

4:24pm: The Hawks have fired head coach Nate McMillan, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets.

Atlanta is one of the league’s most disappointing teams. The Hawks currently rank eighth in the Eastern Conference with a 29-30 record.

Assistant Joe Prunty will be the interim coach, but the franchise is looking at some bigger names to become the permanent head coach, according to Wojnarowski.

Former Jazz coach Quin Snyder tops the list of candidates with Bucks assistant Charles Lee and Warriors assistant Kenny Atkinson also on the Hawks’ radar (Twitter links). The team will conduct a wide-ranging search, which will begin immediately.

The Hawks have one of the league’s top point guards in Trae Young and made a blockbuster trade to acquire Dejounte Murray from San Antonio as his backcourt partner. Yet, they have floundered around the .500 mark for much of the season.

McMillan was named the club’s interim coach in March 2021 in place of Lloyd Pierce. Atlanta made a surprise run to the Eastern Conference Finals, prompting the Hawks to remove the interim tag and give him a four-year contract in July 2021.

The Hawks finished the regular season at 43-39 and lost in the first round of the playoffs last spring. A report surfaced last month that stated McMillan was unlikely to remain the head coach beyond this season.

Young has had disagreements with McMillan, although their relationship has reportedly been smoother since an incident that was highly publicized in early December. McMillan had reportedly considered resigning this season, but team officials were able to talk him out of it.

Prunty was the Bucks’ interim head coach during the 2017/18 season and finished with a 21-16 record. Milwaukee lost to Boston in the opening round of the playoffs that season.

Prunty has been an assistant on eight NBA teams. He spent a season with Phoenix and wasn’t in the league for two years before joining the Atlanta staff prior to last season.

Warriors Notes: Atkinson, DiVincenzo, Kuminga, Iguodala

Kenny Atkinson agreed to become the Hornets’ head coach in June before backing out of that agreement and remaining with the Warriors as an assistant coach. Speaking to Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area, Atkinson admitted he “didn’t love how it went down,” but feels very strongly that he made the right decision for him and his family.

“This isn’t my first rodeo; I’ve had a lot of experience in this league,” Atkinson said. “But from a leadership standpoint, top to bottom, plus 1-through-15, we have a great group. Usually, there’s something that doesn’t work. Something staff-wise that’s not always perfect. But this is kind of perfect.

“Well, nothing’s perfect, but this is as close to perfect as you can get. I’m not just saying that to blow smoke. Everything kind of comes together here, from a staff and front-office leadership standpoint. It’s all impressive. And probably the most important thing, it’s led by Steph (Curry).”

Here’s more on the Warriors:

  • Donte DiVincenzo, who continues to deal with a hamstring injury, is “unlikely” to play during the Warriors’ upcoming five-game road trip, head coach Steve Kerr said on Thursday (Twitter link via Anthony Slater of The Athletic). If he’s ruled out for that trip, the earliest possible return date for DiVincenzo would be November 7, against his old team, the Kings.
  • After playing between seven and 15 minutes in each of Golden State’s first four games, Jonathan Kuminga was a DNP-CD on Thursday vs. Miami. Kerr said after the game that it’s difficult to play more than 10 players a night, but he believes that “Jonathan’s time will come” and that the young forward is continuing to develop and grow even without consistent playing time (Twitter video link via Slater).
  • Speaking on Thursday to reporters, including ESPN’s Kendra Andrews (Twitter link), Andre Iguodala said that he and the Warriors have a target date in mind for him to make his season debut, but he doesn’t want to disclose it yet. Iguodala has yet to scrimmage with the team, but thinks he’s getting close to doing so.

Hornets Notes: Williams, Coaching Search, McGowens

The Hornets were considering three centers heading into Thursday’s draft, but Duke’s Mark Williams was at the top of their list, writes Varun Shankar of The Charlotte Observer. Williams opened eyes with his measurements at the draft combine and will have the longest standing reach in the NBA at 9’9″. General manager Mitch Kupchak likes the idea of Williams catching lob passes from LaMelo Ball, but he said the 20-year-old big man needs to improve as a rebounder and add strength to get ready for the next level.

“He has a lot of work in getting stronger and I don’t have any doubt that he’ll work hard and get in the weight room,” Kupchak said. “He’s a good rebounder, I wouldn’t say that he’s gonna be our rebound monster right now, but I think if he gets stronger, I think he can become an excellent rebounder.”

The Hornets actually drafted Memphis center Jalen Duren first, but he was traded to the Knicks and ultimately to the Pistons. Charlotte received a protected first-round pick and four second-rounders in return, and Kupchak explained that the team wasn’t comfortable adding two more rookies after having three on the roster this season.

“We didn’t feel using both picks was prudent,” he said.

There’s more from Charlotte:

  • Kupchak also spoke about Kenny Atkinson‘s decision to reconsider his agreement to become the Hornets’ next head coach, per Steve Reed of The Associated Press. Kupchak has been discussing the situation with owner Michael Jordan and indicated the organization may consider some new possibilities. “We have spent a lot of time going over candidates, maybe some new candidates and making sure we cover our bases,” Kupchak said. “We have never felt the need to rush this process. We want to pick the right coach — and we thought we did.”
  • Former Hornets head coach Steve Clifford met with Kupchak and Jordan this week and is now considered to be a serious candidate for the position, sources tell Roderick Boone and Scott Fowler of The Charlotte Observer. Jordan also met with Mike D’Antoni, who was considered the runner-up when the offer was made to Atkinson.
  • Nebraska’s Bryce McGowens, whom Charlotte traded up to draft at No. 40, is likely to be given a two-way contract, Boone tweets.

Stein’s Latest: Beal, Robinson, Gobert, Hornets, Atkinson

The comments made Monday by president of basketball operations Tommy Sheppard seemed to indicate the Wizards don’t have any reservations about giving Bradley Beal a full maximum-salary contract, Marc Stein writes in his latest Substack column. Beal, who missed the final 33 games of the season because of an injured left wrist, is eligible for a new five-year deal worth a projected $247MM+.

Stein states that Sheppard had “ebullience” when talking about Beal and the chance to team him up with Kristaps Porzingis next season. Beal has to make a decision by next week on a $36.4MM player option for 2022/23, but it sounds like a long-term offer will be waiting no matter what he does with the option.

Sheppard said Beal can be a franchise centerpiece and notes that he has improved his defense and become more versatile since he arrived in the NBA. He points out that Beal can handle either backcourt spot, adding, “We have no problem playing Bradley Beal at point guard.”

There’s more from Stein:

  • While the Knicks would like to clear cap space before free agency kicks off, Stein has heard strong rumblings that they’re prepared to sign Mitchell Robinson to a new multiyear contract. The fourth-year center is coming off his best NBA season, averaging 8.5 points, 8.6 rebounds and 1.8 blocks in 72 games, and his minimum-salary cap hold means that retaining him won’t complicate any efforts to create cap room. Stein confirms a report that New York is looking for takers for Alec Burks and Nerlens Noel, along with Kemba Walker, to make a run at a free agent guard like Jalen Brunson or possibly Kyrie Irving.
  • Appearing Monday on Spotify Live, Stein suggested that the Bulls are the most likely destination if the Jazz decide to trade Rudy Gobert. He clarifies that statement in today’s column, saying Chicago has “ongoing reservations” about dealing for Gobert, while the Raptors are still a team to watch. Stein adds that Gobert isn’t considered a sure thing to be traded this summer.
  • In the wake of Kenny Atkinson‘s decision to remain with the Warriors, the Hornets are still in the market for someone with experience as a head coach, such as Mike D’Antoni, the other finalist, who is scheduled to meet with owner Michael Jordan today. Stein suggests that family reasons factored into Atkinson’s decision, as did the fact that Golden State was willing to pay him more than assistant coaches usually make.

Hornets Rumors: D’Antoni, Atkinson, Bridges, Trade Candidates

Mike D’Antoni is scheduled to meet with Hornets owner Michael Jordan on Tuesday to discuss the team’s head coaching position, sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link).

Warriors assistant Kenny Atkinson had agreed earlier this month to become Charlotte’s new head coach, but backed out of his agreement with the team over the weekend.

D’Antoni, who was also a finalist before the Hornets chose Atkinson, had reportedly been scheduled to meet with Jordan a couple weeks ago, but it’s unclear if that sit-down ever took place — Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report wrote today that Atkinson was the only candidate to meet with the Hornets’ owner.

Besides D’Antoni, Terry Stotts was the other candidate believed to be a finalist for the Hornets before they reached a deal with Atkinson. It’s unclear if the team has any plans to meet with Stotts again now that its head coaching search is back on.

Here’s more on the Hornets:

  • The Hornets want to retain “a large portion” of James Borrego‘s coaching staff, since many of them have one guaranteed year remaining on their current contracts, according to Fischer. Atkinson had wanted to bring in some of his own assistants, but he and the Hornets weren’t able to come to financial agreements for them, sources tell Fischer, who notes that Charlotte’s assistant coaches are known to be among the NBA’s bottom five in terms of salary.
  • Fischer adds that Atkinson’s decision not to join the Hornets doesn’t appear to have anything to do with a succession plan in Golden State, since there’s no indication Warriors head coach Steve Kerr plans to go anywhere anytime soon.
  • The Pistons and Pacers are believed to have interest in pursuing restricted free agents this summer and have been the only teams mentioned as potential threats to pursue Hornets RFA Miles Bridges, reports Fischer. Shams Charania of The Athletic wrote on Monday that Charlotte may be reluctant to match a maximum-salary offer for Bridges.
  • The Hornets are expected to gauge the trade market for Terry Rozier, P.J. Washington, Kelly Oubre, and Mason Plumlee “in advance of Bridges’ free agency,” writes Fischer. The fact that Fischer links those potential trade talks to Bridges’ contract situation suggests that Charlotte may be trying to save some money that could be put toward Bridges’ new contract.

Southeast Notes: Beal, M. Williams, Ross, Atkinson, Hornets Workout

Bradley Beal didn’t provide any hints regarding free agency during a public appearance today, but he revealed that “a lot” of players have been encouraging him to join their teams, writes Noah Trister of The Associated Press. Beal is facing a decision on a $36.4MM player option for next season that will have a huge effect on the Wizards‘ future, but he didn’t give any indication on which way he’s leaning.

The star guard did provide an update on his injured left wrist, which required surgery in February that brought his season to an early end. He said the recovery process is going well and estimates that 80-90% of his range of motion has returned.

“The rest is going to be strengthening and stuff,” he said. “I’m cleared to do stuff on the court now, which is good.”

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • After working out for the Wizards today, Mark Williams said it’s the last one on his schedule before Thursday’s draft, tweets Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. The Duke center also had sessions with the Hornets, Knicks, Spurs and Bulls.
  • The Magic are still trying to find a taker for Terrence Ross, per Michael Scotto of HoopsHype. Prior to February’s deadline, Orlando was asking for a first-round pick in exchange for the 31-year-old swingman, but Scotto says teams are hoping the price will fall to multiple second-rounders, just as it did when the Magic traded Evan Fournier. Ross has an expiring $11.5MM contract for next season.
  • Before changing his mind about becoming the Hornets‘ next head coach, Kenny Atkinson called all the team’s current assistants and had planned to meet with every staff member before the draft, tweets Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report.
  • The Hornets hosted six players in a pre-draft workout today, the team tweeted. On hand were Keve Aluma of Virginia Tech, Jamaree Bouyea of San Francisco, Yoan Makoundou of Cholet Basket in France, Wendell Moore of Duke, Scotty Pippen Jr. of Vanderbilt and Jaden Shackelford of Alabama. Charlotte owns the 13th, 15th and 45th picks in the draft.

Kenny Atkinson Won’t Take Job With Hornets

3:24pm: Atkinson will become the Warriors‘ new top assistant under Steve Kerr, Wojnarowski writes in a full story. He will replace Mike Brown, who is leaving to become the Kings’ head coach.

Wojnarowski states that after Atkinson accepted the Hornets’ job last week, he had “further conversations” with the team that made him reconsider. Sources tell Woj that Atkinson never signed a contract with Charlotte. He informed both clubs of his decision this afternoon.

2:39pm: Kenny Atkinson has decided to remain an assistant with the Warriors rather than becoming the Hornets‘ next head coach, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Charlotte made the decision to hire Atkinson eight days ago, with both sides agreeing in principle on a four-year contract. Former Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts and former Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni were the other finalists for the job. Stotts is also among the reported candidates for the head coaching vacancy in Utah.

Atkinson, 55, just completed his first season as an assistant coach with Golden State, winning an NBA title for the first time in his career. He spent last season as an assistant on Tyronn Lue‘s staff with the Clippers and has been as assistant with the Knicks and Hawks as well. His only head coaching experience came with the Nets from 2016-20.

Recent reports cited positive reaction for the Hornets’ decision to hire Atkinson and noted that he’s well-respected around the league.

Charlotte is left in the difficult position of being without a head coach five days before the draft and 12 days before the start of free agency. It’s not clear yet whether owner Michael Jordan intends to shift to one of his other finalists or start the coaching search over.

Southeast Notes: Beal, Hawks, Strus, Atkinson

Wizards star shooting guard Bradley Beal recently sat down with Taylor Rooks of Bleacher Report (video link; hat tip to ClutchPoints) to discuss his impending free agency. Beal has a $36.4MM player option for the 2022/23 season.

“I know what my decision will be based off of, and that’s gonna be where I feel like I can win. That’s going to be my decision,” Beal said. “If I feel like I can win in D.C., that’s what I’m gonna do, and I want people to respect that. You may or you may not, but I’m gonna work my ass off and I’m gonna compete and I wanna make this team better. If it’s elsewhere, it’s going to be the exact same commitment.”

Should he opt out, Beal would be eligible for a projected five-year, $247MM maximum contract from the Wizards this summer. The most a rival team could offer him in free agency would be a four-year, $183.6MM deal. Washington drafted Beal out of Florida with the third pick in the 2012 draft. He has never played beyond the Eastern Conference Semifinals with the Wizards.

A left wrist tear restricted Beal’s availability for much of the 2021/22 NBA season. The three-time All-Star remained relatively productive when he was available, though his shooting numbers dipped in his age-28 season. Beal averaged 23.2 PPG, 6.6 APG, and 4.7 RPG across 40 contests, on .451/.300/.833 shooting. The Wizards finished with a 35-47 record this season.

There’s more out of the Southeast Division:

  • After the Hawks made an exciting run to the 2021 Eastern Conference Finals, they expected more of the same success the following season. Instead, the team finished with a disappointing 43-39 record and was eventually defeated 4-1 in the first round by the Heat. Atlanta seems primed to make changes in the 2022 offseason, prompting Chris Kirschner of The Athletic to list some of his favorite trade targets for Atlanta, including Suns center Deandre Ayton, Pacers guard Malcolm Brogdon, and Pistons forward Jerami Grant.
  • Following a breakout season with the Heat, 26-year-old wing Max Strus is aware that the team will have heightened expectations heading into the 2022/23 NBA season, per Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel. “I’ve just got to be more complete,” Strus said of developing his play. “There’s definitely areas for improvement. And that’s exciting about this game, that’s what wants you to keep flourishing, is the challenges that come with it.” In his second season with the Heat, the 6’5″ guard out of DePaul averaged 10.6 PPG, 3.0 RPG and 1.4 APG, with shooting splits of .441/.410/.792. During an extended playoff run, Strus supplanted Duncan Robinson as the club’s starting shooting guard thanks to his superior defense. The top-seeded team in the East, the Heat went on an extended playoff run before eventually falling 4-3 to the Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals.
  • Reaction around the hiring of new Hornets head coach Kenny Atkinson has been resoundingly positive, per Rod Boone of the Charlotte Observer. Boone explores the expectations surrounding Atkinson and his ability to help Charlotte, led by All-Star point guard LaMelo Ball, move beyond the play-in tournament. Last season under the tutelage of head coach James Borrego, the Hornets finished with a 43-39 record and the No. 10 seed in the East. Atkinson is currently on Steve Kerr‘s bench with the Warriors, in a 2-2 Finals series against the Celtics.

Southeast Notes: Hornets Workouts, Atkinson, Wizards

The Hornets hosted a couple of potential lottery picks for solo workouts on Friday, the team announced (Twitter links): Duke’s Mark Williams, who is ranked No. 14 on ESPN’s big board, and Shaedon Sharpe, who is ranked No. 7 due to his enormous upside despite not playing a game for Kentucky. The Hornets control the Nos. 13, 15 and 45 picks in the 2022 NBA draft.

Williams has been linked to Charlotte multiple times in mock drafts, which makes perfect sense since he’s a rim-running, paint-protecting center with great size and athleticism. He could fill a major weak spot if he’s NBA-ready, as the team has lacked a big man in that mold for several years.

Sharpe seems unlikely to fall to No. 13, so the Hornets were probably just doing their due diligence and getting a look at a player who hasn’t played competitively in nearly a year, but they theoretically could package their picks in order to move up and select him.

The team also hosted a group workout on Friday (Twitter link) featuring Michigan State’s Max Christie, UConn’s R.J. Cole, Richmond’s Grant Golden, Furman’s Alex Hunter, France’s Ismael Kamagate, and Brazil’s Gui Santos. Kamagate and Christie are the highest-rated prospects among the group at Nos. 40 and 45, respectively, so they could be possibilities for Charlotte’s second-rounder.

Here’s more from the Southeast:

  • Alex Schiffer of The Athletic explores what the Hornets are getting in new head coach Kenny Atkinson, noting that Atkinson earned league-wide praise by establishing a culture in Brooklyn that was reminiscent of a college team, something the Nets have sorely lacked since he resigned in 2020. Known as a meticulous worker who embraces analytics, Atkinson used to physically participate in Nets practices, writes Schiffer, adding that Atkinson appears to be entering a better situation in Charlotte than his previous head coaching job in Brooklyn.
  • The Wizards are among the teams weighing the idea of trading their lottery pick (No. 10 overall) in a possible win-now move, Marc Stein reports in his latest article for Substack.
  • Fresno State’s Orlando Robinson and Kansas’ David McCormack will work out for the Wizards on Saturday, tweets Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. Robinson is ranked No. 77 on ESPN’s board, so he could be a possibility for the team’s second-round pick, which is No. 56 overall.

Hornets Plan To Hire Kenny Atkinson As Head Coach

[UPDATE: Kenny Atkinson Won’t Take Job With Hornets]

The Hornets plan to hire Kenny Atkinson to be their new head coach, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter links).

The two sides have reached an agreement in principle, reports Rod Boone of The Charlotte Observer. Atkinson will receive a four-year contract, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

As Charania relays, Atkinson met with owner Michael Jordan and other high-level Hornets officials for his third interview on Wednesday. Charania and Sam Amick of The Athletic previously pegged Atkinson as the frontrunner for the job, with Boone later stating that he could be hired by the end of this week.

Atkinson, 55, is currently an assistant coach with the Warriors and spent last season as an assistant with the Clippers. He’s most well-known for being the head coach of the Nets from 2016-20, leading an impressive turnaround during his four years at the helm.

Although Atkinson’s record 118-190 record with the Nets seems pretty poor, the team went just 20-62 in 2016/17, his first year, and made the playoffs two years later with a 42-40 record. He played a key role in developing players like Joe Harris, Spencer Dinwiddie, Caris LeVert, Jarrett Allen, and D’Angelo Russell, all of whom improved tremendously during his tenure.

The Hornets reportedly believe they’re on the verge of being a playoff team and wanted a head coach who will help the club take the next step. Atkinson is known for his player development skills and defensive acumen, so he could be a good fit for key players like LaMelo Ball and Miles Bridges.

Boone writes that Atkinson’s first task will be creating his coaching staff and deciding whether or not he wants to retain any of James Borrego‘s former assistants, who have all been working and awaiting their fates until a new coach was hired. Borrego was fired after Charlotte was blown out in the first game of the play-in tournament for the second consecutive year.

The Hornets control the Nos. 13, 15, and 45 picks in the 2022 NBA draft and have a number of mid-size contracts that could be dangled in trades, so it will be interesting to see how GM Mitch Kupchak reshapes the roster this summer with Atkinson as head coach. Bridges is also a restricted free agent and figures to receive a large contract, so balancing his large salary increase with the remainder of the roster is another thing to keep an eye on.

With Atkinson set to depart Golden State, Warriors head coach Steve Kerr will be losing two key assistants this spring, as Mike Brown was hired to be the new head coach of the Kings last month.

Former Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni was the other finalist for the Hornets’ vacancy, and while former Blazers coach Terry Stotts was reportedly in the running, it’s unclear if he ever got a third interview to meet with Jordan like Atkinson and D’Antoni did.