Lakers receive permission to interview Warriors assistant Kenny Atkinson for key coaching job, per report

The Los Angeles Lakers have been given permission to interview Golden State Warriors assistant Kenny Atkinson for an open major coaching job, The Guardian reports. Adrian Wojnarowski. Atkinson is the fifth known candidate to interview for the position, after Bucks assistant Darvin Hamm, Raptors assistant Adrian Griffin, former Blazers coach Terry Stotts, and former Warriors coach Mark Jackson.

Atkinson spent three and a half seasons coaching the Brooklyn Nets and was very successful in this position. He managed a team with very few recruiting picks and fewer veterans, and helped build them into the kind of franchise that could attract well-known stars like Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. This growth turned out to be, in some ways, a setback for Atkinson. Suddenly just doing playoffs with a young team wasn’t enough, and he had to manage relationships with some of the best and most demanding players. He has never managed to establish such a connection with Irving and Durant, but after spending the past several years as an assistant to teams of similar talent, he may be better equipped to do so this time with LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

Atkinson is best known for his work as a developmental coach. He’s made his name under Mike Budenholzer in Atlanta, and he’s done some of the best developmental work in basketball over the past two seasons, to be exact. He spent the 2020-21 season under Ty Lowe with the Clippers, and there, he helped Terrence Mann develop into one of the league’s best young wingers. He moved to Golden State this season, and youngsters like Gary Payton II, Jordan Poole and Jonathan Kuminga have surely thrived under his watch.

The last time the Lakers looked for a head coach, they only offered deals for Lue and Frank Vogel for three years. The idea was to hire a coach who is ready to win in the short term without the long term commitment. The Lakers still have James and Davis, so they still have a chance to win at the moment. But the future is quickly creeping into this team, and in interviewing candidates like Atkinson, Hamm and Griffin, the Lakers appear to be looking for a candidate who fits both schedules.

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