Kenny Atkinson backs out of Hornets head coaching job

Brooklyn Nets coach Kenny Atkinson watches during the first half of the team’s NBA basketball game against the Washington Wizards, Feb. 1, 2020, in Washington. The Charlotte Hornets have agreed to terms on a contract with Atkinson, now a Golden State Warriors assistant, to become their next coach, according to a person familiar with the situation. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Friday because Atkinson has not yet signed the contract. (AP Photo/Nick Wass, File)

CHARLOTTE — The head coaching search for the Charlotte Hornets that appeared to be finished over a week ago is back underway.

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Golden State Warriors assistant Kenny Atkinson has reportedly changed his mind and will not become the next head job for the Hornets. While it was reported on June 10 that Atkinson and the Hornets had agreed in principle to a four-year deal, the contract was never signed and the 55-year-old coach will instead remain in Golden State.

Atkinson, fresh off of a championship victory with Golden State, won his first championship on the sidelines Thursday night as the Warriors pulled away to a 103-90 Game 6 win over the Boston Celtics. 

On Saturday, he informed Charlotte and Golden State of his decision to stay in San Francisco, and instead become the top assistant with Golden State replacing Mike Brown, who recently accepted the head-coaching gig for the Sacramento Kings.

Hornets team owner Michael Jordan and general manager Mitch Kupchak will now go back to the drawing board to find the replacement for ex-coach James Borrego, possibly targeting the other coaches the team had narrowed in on throughout the search. Longtime NBA head coaches Mike D’Antoni and Terry Stotts joined Atkinson as Charlotte’s top three candidates for the job, per sources. 

Because the Hornets haven’t been to the playoffs since the 2015-16 season and haven’t won a playoff series in more than two decades, Jordan and Kupchak are hopeful that a new coach can guide and build a young Hornets team led by LaMelo Ball and Miles Bridges to sustained success.