Atkinson reversed course more than a week after agreeing to a four-year contract with the Hornets, the Associated Press reported. The Hornets never announced Atkinson as the new head coach and remain one of two teams in the NBA without a head coach as the offseason nears.
It’s unclear what sparked the reversal. Warriors played appeared to be thrilled when they heard the news Saturday the assistant coach was staying on the staff. Fellow assistant Mike Brown took the Sacramento Kings job in May.
“We knew the amazing job Kenny did when he was in Brooklyn. That doesn’t get talked about enough,” Warriors guard Jordan Poole said. “For him to be able to bring all of the knowledge and the insight and the positive emotion and militaristic drive that he has, to already add that to a winning culture is amazing. And we got a ring because of that. … He obviously is extremely invested and believes we can do it again. You want guys like that and people like that.”
Andrew Wiggins added: “That means a lot. He gave up a head coaching job to come back.”
Atkinson has been regarded as one of the top assistant coaches in the NBA. He was on the bench for the New York Knicks and Atlanta Hawks from 2008 to 2016 before getting a job with the Brooklyn Nets.
Atkinson was 118-190 with the Nets and made one a playoff appearance.
He was with the Los Angeles Clippers in 2020-21 before joining the Warriors prior to this season.
The Hornets fired James Borrego after the 2021-22 season. Borrego was with Charlotte but failed to make the playoffs.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.