NBA rumors: Warriors’ Kenny Atkinson emerges as Hornets front-runner coach

After being passed over by the Los Angeles Lakers for their head coaching position, there’s still a chance Warriors assistant coach Kenny Atkinson could be leading from a different sideline next season.

Atkinson is a front-runner to become the new head coach of the Charlotte Hornets, The Athletic’s Shams Charania and Sam Amick reported on Friday, citing sources. He had previously been reported as a finalist for the Lakers job, but the organization went with Darvin Ham instead.

As he went through the interview process with Los Angeles, Atkinson simultaneously was doing the same with the Hornets.

Now, Atkinson will meet with Charlotte officials — including team owner Michael Jordan — next week and is in competition with two-time NBA Coach of the Year Mike D’Antoni and former Portland Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts for the job, according to Charania and Amick’s report.

Atkinson joined Steve Kerr’s bench as an assistant coach for Golden State prior to the 2021-22 season and previously served as coach of the Brooklyn Nets from 2016 to 2020.

Should he be given the Hornets job, Atkinson would be the second Warriors assistant in less than four weeks to be named head coach of another team after Mike Brown was announced as the new Sacramento Kings coach on May 9.

The odds of that are looking good, as Charania and Amick also reported, citing sources, that Atkinson’s meeting will be the first to include Jordan.

This is the third head coaching role Atkinson has been considered for since the NBA’s regular season ended in April; in addition to the Lakers’ then-vacant position, he also was in the mix for the Kings’ coaching job.

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After compiling a 43-39 record in 2021-22, the Hornets were eliminated by the Atlanta Hawks in the Play-In Tournament.

Atkinson previously has described himself as an out-of-the-box thinker, and with his previous coaching experience, it’s no wonder he has emerged as a front-runner to lead the Hornets.

In the meantime, however, Atkinson has a different task at hand as he prepares for Game 2 of the NBA Finals between the Warriors and Boston Celtics, set for Sunday at Chase Center.

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