Wednesday, August 8, 2012
Assistant Coach Kenny Atkinson Set to Leave Knicks for Hawks
The Knicks are poised to make their biggest push towards a championship title in years this upcoming season. In preparation to do so, New York has surrounded their stars with a core of savvy veteran role players.
Thus, the team has gotten older and wiser. The players ready to don orange and blue next season are proven and experienced. Because of this, there are seemingly fewer opportunities for "player development."
Knicks' assistant coach Kenny Atkinson thought now to be as good of a time as ever to leave the team for a different opportunity. The assistant is set to join the Atlanta Hawks under head coach Larry Drew.
Atkinson was hired by New York and initially worked with Mike D'Antoni's staff, focusing on player development.
One of the highest regarded assistants in all of the NBA, Atkinson garnered praise for his work with Jeremy Lin last season. The pair worked together tirelessly, with Atkinson preparing Lin to be ready for his opportunity to unleash Linsanity.
Following D'Antoni's resignation, new head coach Mike Woodson failed to give Atkinson a seat next to the rest of the coaches on the Knicks' bench. The assistant sat behind his colleagues for most of the season.
After trading players like Joe Johnson and Marvin Williams this offseason, the Hawks will surely be a team retooling (yet not necessarily rebuilding) as they look to continue competing with Josh Smith as the team's leader.
Though Atlanta also acquired Devin Harris this summer, the team still has a plethora of younger guards Atkinson will have the opportunity to work with. Rising star Jeff Teague (24) started all 66 games last season, and the Hawks recently lured in sixth man Louis Williams (25) from the 76ers.
It's unknown who, if anyone, Atkinson will specifically work with on his new team. Nevertheless, he's still expected to be given more responsibilities than he was in New York.
And his former head coach believes it's a strong hire for the Hawks. Talking from Team USA practice in London, D'Antoni spoke with the New York Daily News and sang Atkinson praises.
It remains to be seen if the Knicks will choose to formally replace Atkinson on their coaching staff. Aside from a player development coach, there's also been talk of adding an "offensive coordinator" to Coach Woodson's staff for the upcoming season.