Kenny Atkinson

Warriors Notes: Wiseman, Player Development, Lacob

James Wiseman‘s inability to participate fully in training camp will hurt the Warriors more than any games he might miss at the start of the season, Anthony Slater of The Athletic opines. Wiseman’s development is crucial to making the team relevant again, due to his physical gifts that can add an explosive dimension it currently lacks on the interior. Wiseman is expected to participate in individual shooting and other individual on-court activities during camp. His return to full practices will be determined after October 15, when he’s expected to begin full jumping on the surgically repaired knee.

We have more on the Warriors:

  • The team has invested heavily this offseason in player development, as Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area details. The additions of former Nets coach Kenny Atkinson along with Dejan Milojević and Jama Mahlalela were made due their reputations for developing young talent. All three have been on the job since June, Poole adds.
  • Owner Joe Lacob has been fined $50K for comments regarding Ben Simmons, the NBA announced today (via Twitter). The league deemed the comments as a violation of its anti-tampering rules. Lacob said it’s unlikely the team will trade for disgruntled Sixers star.
  • Lacob believes the franchise is on track for another championship, according to Rusty Simmons of the San Francisco Chronicle. “Hopefully, this year, we’ll compete for a championship,” he said. “I think we should. Over the next 4-5 years, I think we should continue that and have a second great decade in a row.”

Warriors Notes: Bjelica, Porter, Poole, Rookies, Iguodala, Kerr

Warriors head coach Steve Kerr believes that adding veteran forwards Nemanja Bjelica and Otto Porter in free agency should help make Golden State a better three-point shooting team in 2021/22, as he tells Tim Kawakami of The Athletic.

Kerr called the signing of Bjelica “really exciting,” pointing out that the Warriors haven’t really had a floor-spacing, pick-and-pop big man since Marreese Speights, who generally shot from the mid-range rather than from beyond the arc.

“I look at Bjelica as the three-point-shooting version of Mo, in many ways,” Kerr said. “Because all of a sudden, you’re looking at a spaced floor when you consider Klay (Thompson)‘s return and Steph (Curry)‘s play last year. The ability to play Bjelica with Draymond (Green), which basically turns Draymond into the five and the pick-and-roll guy with Bjelica spaced. Really exciting.”

Kerr also praised Porter, referring to him as a player who can guard multiple positions on defense and who isn’t just “going to stand in the corner” on offense.

“The whole thing with Otto is health now,” Kerr told Kawakami. “He feels like he’s healthy and we’re going to give him every opportunity to get himself in shape and in rhythm. If he can return to form, then he’s a really, really interesting player for us. Somebody who could play an important role.”

Here’s more on the Warriors:

  • Asked by Kawakami about lineup and rotation decisions to start the season, Kerr predicted that Jordan Poole will be the Warriors’ starting shooting guard until Thompson is ready to play, and said it’s “impossible to say” yet whether either Jonathan Kuminga or Moses Moody will play regular minutes.
  • Kerr recognizes that trading Andre Iguodala in 2019 was necessary in order to get below the hard cap, but is thrilled to have the veteran forward back in Golden State, as Kawakami relays. “I think when we lost him, we lost a piece of our soul,” Kerr said of Iguodala. “… Andre’s return, I think, is huge in a lot of different ways. First, he’s still got plenty to offer, as he showed in Miami the last two seasons. So his addition on the court will be huge for us. And second, he just embodies everything we’re about — versatility, sacrifice, the clear defining of roles, the mentoring that he brings for the younger guys. You throw all that into the equation and Andre is just an enormous addition for us.”
  • Kerr, who won a gold medal in Tokyo as an assistant coach for Team USA, was asked by Kawakami if he’d be interested in becoming the club’s head coach in 2024, assuming Gregg Popovich doesn’t return. His reply: “Of course I’d be interested. I mean, who wouldn’t be? I’ll leave it at that. I have no idea how it will all transpire; there are a lot of great candidates out there. And if I were to be considered, that would be an honor.”
  • The Warriors issued a press release today officially announcing a series of previously-reported additions to Kerr’s coaching staff, including Kenny Atkinson, Dejan Milojevic, and Jama Mahlalela.

Warriors Notes: Thompson, Wiseman, Atkinson, Brown, Draft

Recovering Warriors sharpshooter Klay Thompson isn’t participating in full contact workouts yet, but he’s “starting to really get movement on the court,” head coach Steve Kerr told Anthony Slater of The Athletic. Thompson continues to rehab from an Achilles tear he suffered in November 2020.

“He’s still a ways away from actually playing basketball in a 5-on-5 setting,” Kerr said. “But there’s a big step with the Achilles when you can actually start running again. It’s a huge psychological boost. The rest of the body gets going, you start feeling the soreness and aches and pains that actually feel good when you’ve been out for a while. He’s at that point.”

Kerr addressed a few other topics of note during his conversation with Slater. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Coming off knee surgery that ended his rookie season, James Wiseman is “right on schedule for everything,” according to Kerr, who says the expectation is still that the young center will be ready for training camp.
  • Discussing the addition of Kenny Atkinson as an assistant coach, Kerr said he was worried about “groupthink” with the current staff and believes Atkinson will bring a new perspective to the group. “Very clever. Very analytically driven,” Kerr said of Atkinson. “We’ve had a lot of basketball conversations over the years and I’ve always been impressed with the way he sees and feels the game. In a way, it’s different from me.”
  • Mike Brown has been Kerr’s associate head coach for the last several years, making him the lead assistant on the staff. Atkinson has a claim to that role too, but neither coach is concerned about the title, according to Kerr. “I talked to Kenny about titles. He didn’t care. I talked to Mike, said I was interviewing Kenny and hadn’t talked title. Mike said, ‘I don’t care either,'” Kerr told Slater. “To me, they’re just both assistant coach. Both guys are comfortable in their own skin.”
  • Kerr said he isn’t as involved this year in scouting and evaluating draft prospects because of the Olympics and his commitment to Team USA, but he’s excited about what the Warriors will be able to do with the seventh and 14th overall picks. “Based on what I’ve watched on tape, I’ve seen a few guys who can play right now,” Kerr said. “You can go that route or go the younger route, get a prospect. Maybe you get one of each. Get one guy who is ready now and one guy who may pop in a few years. Who knows. But I think we’re in a really good position asset-wise to look at everything.”

Kenny Atkinson To Join Warriors As Assistant Coach

Former Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson has reached an agreement to become one of Steve Kerr‘s lead assistants with the Warriors, according to Anthony Slater and Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Atkinson, who spent this season as a lead assistant with the Clippers, would join Mike Brown in the role, giving Golden State two ex-head coaches as Kerr’s top assistants, sources tell the authors. Atkinson would replace Jarron Collins, who parted ways with the team last month.

The 54-year-old Atkinson was considered as a possible candidate for the head coaching vacancy in Orlando. He served as head coach in Brooklyn from 2016 to 2020 and has previous experience as an assistant with the Knicks and Hawks.

Although he was dismissed after clashing with Nets stars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, Atkinson did an admirable job of making the franchise competitive again and helped develop young players such as Caris LeVert, Jarrett Allen and D’Angelo Russell.

Along with Atkinson, the Warriors will also add Dejan Milojević and Jama Mahlalela to their coaching staff, according to The Athletic’s sources. Milojević specializes in working with big men, while Mahlalela has been part of the Raptors‘ development staff since 2013.

Florida Notes: Heat, Magic, P. Hardaway, Atkinson

The Bucks‘ run to the NBA Finals might reveal what the Heat lacked this season, writes Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel. In addition to perpetual All-Star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo and occasional All-Star swingman Khris Middleton, Milwaukee added borderline All-Star guard Jrue Holiday to the mix this season. Holiday’s excellent two-way play and ball-handling abilities helped take Milwaukee to the next level.

The Heat, on the other hand, have two stars in Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo, but currently lack a third two-way threat. Winderman notes that promising second-year guard Tyler Herro could become that player, but cautions that a healthy star-studded Nets team will most likely be the class of the East going forward, and that Miami must be ready with reinforcements.

There’s more out of the Sunshine State:

  • After the Heat were swept out of the first round by the Bucks, it seemed apparent that offseason roster changes would be coming. Now, Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel suggests that exactly what transpires could be predicated on how certain timing elements shake out. The club’s front office, led by team president Pat Riley, will have to decide on expensive team options for former All-Stars Goran Dragic, 35, and Andre Iguodala, 37, on August 1. The club holds a $15MM team option on Iguodala and a $19.4MM option on Dragic. If the club wants to use its 2028 first-round pick in any trade, it will have to wait until after the July 29 draft. If the Heat want to use role players Duncan Robinson or Kendrick Nunn as sign-and-trade fodder, the team will only be able to do so after August 6.
  • Though he was up for the head coaching position with the Magic, Memphis head coach (and former four-time Orlando All-Star) Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway never seemed like a leading contender for the gig, opines Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel. Hardaway withdrew his name from consideration and opted to remain in the NCAA for now.
  • Former Nets head coach and current Clippers assistant coach Kenny Atkinson, who oversaw a successful rebuild in Brooklyn, appears to not be one of the major candidates for the Magic head coaching job, writes Chris Hays of the Orlando Sentinel. Nuggets assistant Wes Unseld Jr., Spurs assistant Becky Hammon, Suns assistant Willie Green, Bucks assistant Charles Lee, and three assistants of now-former Magic coach Steve Clifford all will interview or have already interviewed for the job. Hays wonders why Atkinson’s name hasn’t also made the cut, given his track record as a solid coach adept at developing young talent.

Coaching Rumors: Magic, Atkinson, Pelicans, Blazers, Wizards

Although Penny Hardaway has reportedly emerged as a legitimate candidate for the Magic‘s head coaching job, Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report says Kenny Atkinson‘s name continues to be the one most frequently linked to the Orlando job.

As Fischer notes – and as has been reported elsewhere – the Magic are believed to be seeking a candidate who has previous head coaching experience. While Hardaway holds the top job at the University of Memphis, he lacks the NBA experience that Atkinson has. Sources tell Fischer that former Blazers coach Terry Stotts also remains a strong option for Orlando.

Here are a few more coaching-related notes and rumors:

  • The Pelicans‘ search is expected to continue until at least later this week, with current New Orleans assistant Fred Vinson still to be interviewed, says Fischer. However, Jacque Vaughn appears to be the frontrunner for that job, sources tell Bleacher Report. ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said last week that Vaughn’s candidacy was gaining traction.
  • Trail Blazers officials were caught off guard by Damian Lillard‘s public support for Jason Kidd early in the team’s coaching search, and several staffers were surprised the All-NBA guard didn’t name former Portland assistant David Vanterpool as his preferred candidate, according to Fischer. Lillard advocated for Vanterpool to be named Minnesota’s coach following Ryan Saunders‘ dismissal earlier in the year.
  • Spurs assistant Becky Hammon impressed the Trail Blazers during the interview process, but the background intel the team got on Hammon “was not nearly as complimentary pertaining to various aspects of day-to-day coaching responsibilities,” Fischer writes. While team owner Jody Allen liked Hammon, there were doubts about whether she was best suited to navigate “delicate waters” with Lillard, Fischer adds.
  • Fischer says that the Wizards‘ coaching search will be “lengthy and thorough,” which suggests that Washington may end up being the last team to fill its head coaching opening.

Magic Notes: Lottery, Weltman, Isaac, Coaching Search

Among the teams with the best odds heading into Tuesday’s draft lottery, the Magic were the only one to fall out of the top three. Orlando slipped into the fifth spot and will have a second lottery pick after receiving the No. 8 selection from the Bulls. While president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman was disappointed with the results, he said that he’s glad to finally have some clarity on next month’s draft, as Roy Parry of The Orlando Sentinel writes.

“I’ll look at it now as we have a lot of work to do, and we get to put a finer point on the work,” Weltman said. “So we kind of are looking just to put this day behind us and really drill down on the two picks that we have now. Knowing that we have two top-10 picks, that part of it’s very exciting.

“And then the other part is the draft, and it very seldom works out in the way that you prognosticate it. You look back on pretty much any draft, and it doesn’t go that way so it’s our job to find the players in the draft and we will. Now that we know where we’re picking and how many picks we’ll have, we’ll be able to kind of get to the next layer of that.”

There’s more from Orlando:

  • In the same story, Parry suggests the team may try to package one of the selections and possibly a veteran such as Gary Harris or Terrence Ross in an effort to move up. “We always explore all options and it’ll be interesting to kind of start to engage with teams (with the Magic) having two top-10 picks,” Weltman said. “Sometimes it ends up in deals that get done and sometimes it’s a lot of close but no calls. So we’ll see how that goes but we will be busy and the busyness starts with evaluating these two draft picks.”
  • Injured forward Jonathan Isaac shared some encouraging news in a recent appearance on The Sixth Man Show podcast (hat tip to Philip Rossman-Reich of Orlando Magic Daily). Isaac missed the entire 2020/21 season with a torn ACL and there’s still not a definite timetable for him to return, but he believes he’s making progress. “I’m turning the corner,” he said. “It’s like every day I feel like I’m moving better and I can do more. I’m like a kid in the candy story wanting to run around and do so much. I feel good. I’m getting better every day.”
  • In the search to replace Steve Clifford, the Magic front office wants someone with previous head-coaching experience, Marc Stein of The New York Times writes in his latest newsletter. Lakers assistant Jason Kidd and Clippers assistant Kenny Atkinson are two candidates that Stein has heard mentioned frequently.

Coaching Rumors: Magic, Bucks, Pacers, McMillan, Borrego

Of all the active head coaching searches around the NBA, the Magic‘s appears to be the most fluid, according to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report. Kenny Atkinson, identified last week as a candidate for the job, has been the named most frequently linked to Orlando’s vacancy, says Fischer, but the search is expected to be wide-ranging.

Lakers assistant Jason Kidd has been connected more and more to the Magic’s opening, per Fischer, who notes that Kidd has a connection to Orlando general manager John Hammond — the two worked in Milwaukee together from 2014-17 after Hammond hired Kidd as the Bucks’ head coach.

Former Warriors assistant Jarron Collins has talked to the Magic, sources tell Bleacher Report. Fischer says Nets assistant Ime Udoka is another candidate league sources have “strongly linked” the Orlando job, though there’s a sense Udoka may have more interest in the Celtics‘ job. Sixers assistant Sam Cassell may also be on the Magic’s radar, according to Fischer, who says Cassell would be popular among Orlando’s returning players.

Here are several more coaching-related notes and rumors from Fischer’s latest report:

  • With the Bucks tied at 2-2 in their second-round series, Mike Budenholzer is in a better position now than he was a few days ago, but if Milwaukee falls short of the Finals, there’s an expectation the team may make a change, per Fischer. In that scenario, Bucks assistants Darvin Ham and Charles Lee could be candidates for a promotion, since the team may just want a change at the top rather than an overhaul of the entire coaching staff, Fischer notes.
  • If the Bucks make a change, Mike D’Antoni would likely have interest in the job, and Olimpia Milano coach Ettore Messina would be another name to keep an eye on, Fischer writes. Rick Carlisle could also receive interest from Milwaukee, Fischer adds, though Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has said Carlisle’s not going anywhere.
  • Among the teams seeking a new coach, the Pacers appear to be the club most focused on hiring someone with previous head coaching experience, Fischer reports. Given how badly the hire of first-time head coach Nate Bjorkgren worked out, that’s not a huge surprise.
  • All indications are that Nate McMillan will sign a new contract with the Hawks to become the team’s permanent head coach, but until that happens, he’ll likely receive interest from other teams with coaching openings, including the Celtics, says Fischer.
  • Sources tell Fischer that the Hornets and head coach James Borrego are expected to work out a contract extension this offseason.

Scotto’s Latest: Magic, Hartenstein, Allen, Ennis, Theis

Appearing on the HoopsHype podcast alongside Yossi Gozlan, Michael Scotto identified Nets assistant Ime Udoka and former Brooklyn coach Kenny Atkinson as potential candidates to watch for the Magic‘s open head coaching position.

Clippers assistant Dan Craig and Bucks assistant Darvin Ham are among the other names Scotto has heard linked to the job in Orlando. If the Bucks lose their second-round series to Brooklyn, it could be the end of the road in Milwaukee not just for Mike Budenholzer, but for several members of his staff, including Ham, Scotto notes.

Here’s more from the podcast:

  • Scotto says Cavaliers big man Isaiah Hartenstein plans to turn down his player option, after hinting as much last month. Hartenstein will be eligible for restricted free agency and is a good bet to remain in Cleveland, either on a multiyear contract or on his qualifying offer, according to Scotto.
  • Some executives around the NBA believe the Hornets and/or Mavericks could pursue Jarrett Allen, but Scotto expects the RFA center to ultimately remain with the Cavaliers, who gave up a first-round pick for him earlier this year.
  • James Ennis, who has played for seven teams since entering the NBA in 2014, will be seeking some stability as a free agent this offseason, per Scotto, who says Ennis is hoping for a deal that covers three years, or at least two. After knocking down 43.3% of his three-pointers in 2020/21, the veteran forward will be looking for a salary worth at least the non-taxpayer mid-level exception, Scotto adds.
  • Scotto has heard from people around the league that free agent center Daniel Theis could command a deal worth at least the mid-level exception. Theis would like to join a winning team, but also wants the opportunity to play regularly.

Nets Notes: Atkinson, Dinwiddie, Pelle, Big Three

Former Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson will hardly recognize his old team when he sees them for the first time since being fired, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. After reportedly being considered for several head coaching jobs, Atkinson caught on as an assistant with the Clippers, who make their only visit of the season to the Barclays Center tonight.

Atkinson led the Nets back to respectability during his nearly four years with the team. He was fired last March in a surprising move, reportedly because of an inability to relate to star players. With Kevin Durant now healthy and James Harden acquired in a trade, Brooklyn’s future is based around stars.

“He’s done a great job everywhere he’s been,” said Clippers coach Tyronn Lue. “Player development was always a strong suit in how he developed these young guys and other players; we’ve seen how good they’ve gotten.”

There’s more from Brooklyn:

  • It would be surprising if Spencer Dinwiddie ever plays for the Nets again, contends Alex Schiffer of The Athletic. In a column with Danny Leroux discussing Brooklyn’s roster options, Schiffer notes that Dinwiddie may be tempted to opt out of his $12.3MM salary for next season and test the free agent market. Dinwiddie is expected to miss the rest of the year after ACL reconstruction surgery, but some teams still may be interested in trading for him, according to Schiffer and Leroux.
  • Norvel Pelle‘s new deal is a minimum-salary contract with several guarantee dates, tweets Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports. This season will become guaranteed at the league-wide date on February 24, while next season is fully non-guaranteed. Pelle would receive $150K if he’s still on the roster 30 days after the offseason moratorium is lifted, and $250K on opening night.
  • Because of injuries, Durant, Harden and Kyrie Irving have only played together four times since Brooklyn’s Big Three was formed, but Zach Kram of The Ringer believes coach Steve Nash already has an ideal minutes distribution worked out. Charting their playing time so far, Kram finds that either Harden or Irving has been on the court for every minute of close games when they’ve both been available, and the Nets usually have at least two of their stars playing at the same time whenever all three are active.