NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Nearly a month after hiring him, the Brooklyn Nets formally introduced Kenny Atkinson as their new head coach Monday.
The former Hawks assistant was hired April 17, but his welcoming ceremony had to be put on hold until after Atlanta’s season came to an end. The Hawks beat the Boston Celtics in the first round of the playoffs before being swept by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
A Long Island native, Atkinson had an extensive pro career overseas and served as an assistant under Mike D’Antoni’s Knicks from 2008-12 and then under Larry Drew and Mike Budenholzer with the Hawks the past four years.
Atkinson said he felt a connection with new Nets general manager Sean Marks during the interview process.
“I really felt like Sean was someone I could form a partnership with, someone I could collaborate with, someone I could trust,” Atkinson said. “And that really excited me, and it really made me aggressive in pursuing this job. I said, ‘This is a guy I’d love to work with on a daily basis, be in the trenches with.’
“I’m excited to go forward with Sean and build a strong Brooklyn Nets team and build a sustainable club that’s going to be patient but looking to improve over the long term.”
Marks said Atkinson’s reputation for developing players was a major selling point.
But “there was more than just that,” Marks said. “It was what Kenny brought to the table. It was his character, his values and, perhaps above all else, was his passion for the job.”
Atkinson said he believes there’s some young talent on the Nets’ roster and “some pretty good veterans” to build around in Thaddeus Young and Brook Lopez.