Former Nets coach Kenny Atkinson emerges as candidate to join Ty Lue's Clippers staff: report

Garrett Stepien
·2 min read
Kenny Atkinson holds Spalding ball
Kenny Atkinson holds Spalding ball

Former Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson has emerged as a candidate to join Ty Lue's staff with the Los Angeles Clippers, according to a Twitter report Thursday evening by the New York Times' Marc Stein.

In a pair of tweets, Stein said that Atkinson and Miami Heat assistant Don Craig were two top names being considered for Lue's staff.

Lue's cabinet is expected to include former NBA point guard (1980-91) and longtime coach Larry Drew (1992-present), who was the Atlanta Hawks head coach (2010-13) and a Cleveland Cavaliers assistant (2014-18) with Lue, Stein added. Drew replaced Lue (2016-18) as the Cavs' head coach in 2018 after an 0-6 start, but did not far much better, going 19-57 as Cleveland parted ways with him when his contract expired.

Atkinson, 53, was the Nets' head coach since 2016 until a March 7 parting of ways with Brooklyn. Atkinson engineered an accelerated Nets rebuild after going 48-116 from 2016-18, highlighted by the 2018-19 season's 42-40 finish, including a sixth seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

The Nets lost a five-game series to the Philadelphia 76ers and entered 2019-20 with a pair of marquee free agents in Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. Durant (right Achilles) and Irving (right shoulder) never took the court together, with Durant missing all of 2019-20 while Irving shut things down after a latest appearance Feb. 1.

The Nets parted ways with Atkinson after a 28-34 start and promoted assistant Jacque Vaughn in the interim. Vaughn led a 7-3 regular-season finish, including seeding games.

A four-game sweep by the Toronto Raptors capped Brooklyn's season. The Nets made an unexpected move for Atkinson's replacement Sept. 3, hiring Steve Nash, who retained Vaughn as lead assistant.