Kenny Atkinson Rumors
Brooklyn plucked Harris from the D-League six months later. Kenny Atkinson, the team’s coach, suggested Harris watch film of Kyle Korver and installed some of Korver’s pet Atlanta sets for him. Harris couldn’t believe it. “I was taken aback,” he told me in 2017. “I mean, Kyle Korver is the O.G. — the ultimate shooter.” Two years in the basketball wilderness made Harris timid — a curse for any shooter. “He was like that battered [deer] you find in the forest,” Atkinson recalled. “He had no confidence.”
First-time coaches: Given their own needs and seeing some recent success from other rebuilding franchises, the Cavs will most likely go in this direction. Atlanta seems to have found its franchise leader for the new era, hiring Lloyd Pierce, a guy on the coaching radar for years. He is the kind of leader that will be able to grow with the team’s young nucleus. James Borrego worked his way up and ultimately landed with the Charlotte Hornets. J.B. Bickerstaff is another example. And while Kenny Atkinson was a bit older and more seasoned, based on a few years overseas following a well-traveled playing career, his work in player development has a few NBA teams, including the Cavs, wondering if there’s another out there. Jordi Fernandez, Denver Nuggets – Fernandez seems to check a lot of boxes for Cleveland. He’s 36 years old, the kind of coach who can relate with the numerous youngsters on the roster. Player development will be key in this search and Fernandez spent four years on the Cavaliers staff in that capacity before becoming an assistant in the G League.
Russell’s comeback story in Brooklyn goes back to the day Atkinson first expressed his belief in the 6-foot-5 guard. “I think the big thing I heard — you know, character things I kind of ignore that — but just from a basketball standpoint I think the big thing I heard was he was not a point guard,” Atkinson said. “’He’s a combo guard, he’s a shooting guard, you can’t play him at the point. He has too much of a scorer’s mentality.’ I think Sean scouted him in college and felt that wasn’t the case. He said, ‘He’s got elite passing skills.’ Then, when I watched him, I thought he had those (skills). Why can’t he be a point guard? That was kind of from Day 1 here. We didn’t mess with that. We didn’t say, ‘Oh, he’ll play some two, and he’ll play some one.’ No. You’re a point guard. This is what you are. I think that really helped making it clear for him in his development.”
Kristian Winfield: D’Angelo Russell on Kenny Atkinson: “You’ve got a coach like Kenny, he’s a working guy. Him and the coaches work their tail off. As a player you’re a resemblance of your coach. We’re a working team and that’ll be in our favor this season.”
Ryan Wolstat: Nets coach Atkinson on Gasol acquisition: “He changes their dynamic. He’s a huge, huge addition. The scary thing is his ability to stretch the floor.” Also notes Gasol’s passing ability.
Michael Scotto: Brooklyn coach Kenny Atkinson on his assessment of the Nets: “I think it is time to talk about we’re in the mix to be in the playoffs. There’s no doubt about it. I think we can say that clear. I’ve been waiting to say that. I’ll say it right now. To me, it’s above expectations.”
Atkinson credits Davis for keeping the younger players on his roster inspired and willing to hustle for opportunities that define winning mindsets. “It’s funny how personnel changes your philosophy,” Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson told HoopsHype. “We’ve become this really good offensive rebounding team. I wish I had a PowerPoint presentation for you to show how much he has meant to us. He influences everybody else to go after that thing and get us extra possessions.”