Cleveland Cavaliers hire Kenny Atkinson as new head coach

Kenny Atkinson, who guided the Brooklyn Nets for nearly four seasons, has been hired as the new coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers, the NBA club announced on Friday.

The 57-year-old American has also spent 12 seasons as an NBA assistant coach, including a spot on the staff of the Golden State Warriors for the past three seasons.

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“I’m thrilled and honored,” said Atkinson. “This is an incredible opportunity to lead an already talented young roster with an equally bright future.

“I’ve seen firsthand and had to prepare for this group as an opposing coach, and the task was not easy. I’m so excited to now be on this side of the ledger to help continue moving this team forward.”

Atkinson, who played in Europe from 1993-2004 and was a former assistant coach of Paris Basket Racing, will serve as an assistant coach on the French team in the Paris Olympics.

“We conducted a thorough and extensive search in the selecting of the next head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers and we’re excited to welcome Kenny Atkinson,” Cavaliers president of basketball operations Koby Altman said.

“Kenny brings a wealth of experience, a proven track record of player development and a relentless work ethic that aligns with the vision we have for this franchise.”

The Cavaliers went 48-34 last season, finishing fourth in the Eastern Conference. They beat Orlando in the first round of the playoffs but fell in the second to eventual NBA champion Boston and fired coach J.B. Bickerstaff last month.

Atkinson was head coach of the Nets from 2016-2020, going 118-190 with a first-round playoff loss in 2019 before resigning after a 28-34 start to the 2019-20 campaign.

Atkinson has also been an assistant coach for the national teams of Georgia in 2006 and Ukraine in 2011 as well as head coach of the Dominican Republic in 2015.

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