It stood to reason when he was fired with the Nets in playoff position for the second straight season that Kenny Atkinson would land on his feet in the NBA. Now, it appears he has.
Atkinson and former Heat assistant Dan Craig both agreed on Monday to join the staff being assembled by new Clippers head coach Ty Lue, Newsday confirmed with an NBA source. The news first was reported by the website "The Ball Out," which cited "multiple sources."
There is considerable irony in the hiring because Lue was the leading candidate to succeed Atkinson with the Nets right up until the surprise hiring of Steve Nash nearly two months ago.
Lue was an assistant for the Clippers and ascended to the top job following the resignation of Doc Rivers after the Clippers fell to the eventual champion Lakers in the Western Conference finals. Atkinson had hoped to work with Nets superstars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving and to contend for an NBA title in the 2020-21 season, but now he will be in an equally good position working with Clippers superstars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George as they chase the Lakers.
After seven seasons as an assistant with the Knicks and Hawks, Northport native Atkinson was hired in 2016 to rebuild the Nets. His first two seasons were a struggle as the Nets won 21 and then 28 games.
But they reached the playoffs as a sixth seed in 2018-19 with a 42-40 record and they were seventh in the Eastern Conference last season when Atkinson was fired on March 7, ending his Nets tenure with a 90-118 record but leading a turnaround that won wide praise.