The Los Angeles Lakers’ coaching search continues to gradually progress.
They have already interviewed Golden State Warriors assistant (and former Lakers head coach) Mike Brown, former Portland Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts, Milwaukee Bucks assistant Darvin Ham and Toronto Raptors assistant Adrian Griffin.
Now, it looks like the team will talk to former Brooklyn Nets head man Kenny Atkinson next.
Atkinson started his coaching career as an assistant for the New York Knicks during the 2008-09 season. After four years there, I have moved on to be an assistant with the Atlanta Hawks.
He then coached the Nets from 2017 to 2020, which meant he was in Brooklyn for the first year of Kyrie Irving’s tenure with the squad.
Atkinson is currently on Steve Kerr’s staff with the Warriors.
What could Atkinson bring to the table?
When Atkinson took over in Brooklyn, it was still reeling from the disastrous Kevin Garnett trade in which he surrendered multiple first-round draft picks, which turned into Jaylen Brown and Collin Sexton.
The deal also resulted in a pick swap in 2017 with the Boston Celtics which gave them the top pick in the draft, which they then traded to the Philadelphia 76ers for the third pick, which became superstar Jayson Tatum.
But once the Nets accumulated young, feisty players such as Jarrett Allen, Spencer Dinwiddie, Joe Harris, Caris LeVert and former Lakers guard D’Angelo Russell, Atkinson got them to the playoffs in 2019.
With Atkinson’s help, the Nets built enough of an attractive culture that Irving and Kevin Durant decided to join them just a few months later.
Atkinson’s reputation of building up young players is something that could help the Lakers if they end up hiring him.
Via Silver Screen and Roll:
“Atkinson has a reputation as a player-development coach because of the role he had in building up multiple young players in Brooklyn. It was Atkinson who took in Russell after he was traded by the Lakers to Brooklyn and turned him into an All-Star. The cast of youngsters he turned into playoff contenders became one of the feel-good stories of the league and was a very impressive coaching feat.
“The questions arise when it comes to his final season when, presented with a scenario with multiple superstars and an edict to win now, Atkinson and the Nets stumbled. It should be noted that Durant did not play that season as he was recovering from his torn Achilles injury, but the Nets still had a core of Irving, Dinwiddie, LeVert, Haris and Allen and still struggled.”
The Lakers will reportedly take their time in selecting their next bench leader, in part to make sure LeBron James buys into him and his philosophy.