Charlotte Hornets will hire Kenny Atkinson as new head coach, sources say

Golden State Warriors assistant Kenny Atkinson has agreed to a four-year contract to become the Charlotte Hornets’ new head coach, sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski on Friday.

Atkinson will replace James Borrego, who was fired in April after going 138-163 in his four seasons with the team.

The Hornets had narrowed their search to Atkinson and Mike D’Antoni. The two candidates have already had two meetings with management, including general manager Mitch Kupchak, and then met with owner Michael Jordan this week.

Atkinson is the second Golden State assistant coach to leave the Warriors and take charge of a new team. Mike Brown has been hired to coach the Sacramento Kings next season. The two remain with Golden State through the end of the NBA Finals, with Game 4 against the Boston Celtics scheduled for Friday night and Golden State trailing in the best-of-seven series 2-1.

Atkinson was 118-190 in over three years with the Brooklyn Nets, inheriting a full rebuild and showing improvement each season until he stepped down after an injury-plagued 2019-20 season. He spent the 2020-21 season with the LA Clippers as an assistant before joining Steve Kerr’s coaching staff at Golden State ahead of this NBA Finals run.

In total, he spent nine seasons as an NBA assistant, including four with the New York Knicks, three with the Atlanta Hawks, and one with the Clippers and Warriors.

The Hornets have missed the playoffs in six consecutive seasons, the longest drought in franchise history and the second-longest active streak behind the Kings (16). But Charlotte has several building blocks on a team that went 43-39 in the regular season to reach the playoff, including All-Star LaMelo Ball and Miles Bridges, who is expected to be a restricted free agent.

Last season, Charlotte struggled defensively, giving up 114.9 points per game, which was tied for 25th in the league. Atkinson improved the Nets’ defensive efficiency in each season of his four-year tenure, moving them from 23rd in 2017 to ninth in 2020.

ESPN Stats & Information contributed to this report.