Former Nets coach Kenny Atkinson could be back in the NBA — just not as a head coach, and on the other side of the country.
The expectation in league circles is that Atkinson will sign on as an assistant on Tyronn Lue’s first Clippers’ staff according to the New York Times.
Miami assistant Dan Craig and Larry Drew have also reportedly committed to Lue, while All-Star guard-turned-TV analyst Chauncey Billups is also in the mix.
Atkinson — a 53-year-old Huntington native — did not comment when reached out to by The Post. But he has a strong player development background and head coaching experience, things Lue is said to value.
“Being able to do multiple things, not just, you know, one thing or focus in on defense and that’s all they can do or focus in on offense and that’s all they can do,” Lue said during last week’s introduction.
“I want to make sure that picking the coaching staff, we have guys that can do multiple things, because I want to build the best staff. I want to be the best coach. I want to see our coaches move on to be head coaches in the future.”
When the Nets and Atkinson parted ways in March — just two games before the coronavirus pandemic suspended the season — it was largely because his voice stopped carrying weight in the locker room. The perception was that he hadn’t won over stars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.
After helping instill a culture of player development and overseeing a rebuild that brought the Nets from the NBA’s most moribund bunch and into the playoffs, Atkinson was expected to land on his feet with a head coaching job. But experienced proven commodities like Lue, Doc Rivers, Billy Donovan, Mike D’Antoni, Nate McMillen and Tom Thibodeau all hit the market.
Ironically, the Clippers themselves have their own internal locker room issues. They became a trendy NBA championship pick after adding Kawhi Leonard and Paul George before last season, but flamed out in the second round of the playoffs with George not covering himself in glory or being received particularly well in the locker room. Atkinson could be charged with helping Lue unite this group.
Spencer Dinwiddie responded to a report that the NBA fell $1.5 billion short of its revenue projection. The Nets guard — who parted ways with his agent and is expected to represent himself — said in essence that the players bore the brunt of that financial shortfall.
“I could be wrong cuz I’m new to this agent thing. But revenue projections were $8B usd. Players lost 35% of salary this year between initial 10% escrow and the enhanced 25% Covid escrow. 35% x (50% of $8B) = $1.4B,” Dinwiddie tweeted.
“So basically in spite of the mandate to bear the Covid weight 50/50 and the Daryl Morey fiasco (300-500M) the players covered this entire loss and played in Orlando for free … Welp hopefully there’s no lockout.”
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