Cavs to hire top Warriors assistant Atkinson as head coach: report

Kenny Atkinson is about to become an NBA head coach again.

The Warriors’ top assistant coach under Steve Kerr will be hired by the Cleveland Cavaliers, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Monday morning.

Atkinson joined the Warriors as the lead assistant coach in 2021 after Mike Brown’s departure to coach the Sacramento Kings and was part of the 2021-22 title team in his first season with Golden State.

The 57-year-old coach nearly left Golden State after that championship run to lead the Charlotte Hornets, but ultimately returned to the Warriors for two more seasons.

The Cavaliers are coming off two consecutive playoff seasons — their first since LeBron James’ departure in 2018 — but fired coach J.B. Bickerstaff after a second-round exit as they seek to elevate to the next level of contention. All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell has a player option for the 2025-26 season that could loom large over this summer.

Atkinson was the head coach of the Brooklyn Nets from 2016-2020, helping lift the team from 20 wins in his first year to a 42-40 record and a playoff berth in 2019. That upward trajectory helped lure Kevin Durant from the Warriors along with Kyrie Irving from the Celtics that offseason. Increased pressure from those free-agency signings led to Atkinson stepping down the following March. He spent the following season as a Clippers assistant before joining Golden State.

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He coached current Cavaliers Jarett Allen and Caris LeVert during that time in Brooklyn.

Atkinson was also linked to the Lakers’ job this offseason, as well as the Bucks’ midseason opening.

The Warriors will have to make multiple changes to their staff this offseason after Atkinson’s departure and the unexpected death of Dejan Milojević in January. Kerr will be plenty busy with USA Basketball this summer as the head coach of the Americans at the Paris Olympics.

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