Kenny Atkinson’s tenure as coach of the Charlotte Hornets is over before it started.
A person with direct knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press on Saturday that Atkinson, citing family matters, has reversed course and will not take over as coach of the Hornets.
The move comes more than a week after the Golden State assistant had agreed to a four-year contract. But the contract was never signed, according to the person who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because neither Atkinson nor the Hornets revealed any details of the talks or agreement publicly.
ESPN first reported that Atkinson had decided not to take the Charlotte job.
The Hornets having to reopen their search is not ideal for a multitude of reasons. Among those is the fact that they have three picks, including two in the top 15, of Thursday’s draft. Charlotte may have to make the No. 13, No. 15 and No. 45 selections without a coach in place.
The Hornets had talked to several other candidates in their search to replace James Borrego, who was fired in April at the end of his fourth season. Darvin Ham, Mike D’Antoni and Terry Stotts were known to be on Charlotte's radar.
Ham was hired as coach of the Los Angeles Lakers. It’s unclear whether D’Antoni or Stotts would still be interested in Charlotte, or whether the Hornets intend to approach either again.
Atkinson’s decision came two days after Golden State won the NBA championship. One Golden State assistant — Mike Brown — is leaving to become head coach in Sacramento.
The Hornets never announced Atkinson had been hired, presumably because the contract was not signed and because Golden State was still playing. Golden State coach Steve Kerr also wouldn't talk about Atkinson's looming move in recent days, only saying that he wouldn't until the hiring became official.
Atkinson was 118-190 in three-plus seasons as head coach of the Brooklyn Nets when that franchise was undergoing a rebuilding process. He has spent the last two seasons as an assistant, first for the Los Angeles Clippers and now Golden State.
His decision means Charlotte joins Utah as the lone NBA teams without coaches in place at this time.