The Toronto Raptors are officially starting to interview some of the hottest candidates on their initial shortlist, with Sacramento’s Jordi Fernandez, Milwaukee’s Charles Lee, and Denver’s David Adelman all getting consideration. It is only a moment of time before Kenny Atkinson gets his chance to make an impression.
Atkinson, who is currently Steve Kerr’s top assistant with the Golden State Warriors, was one of the most experienced names on Toronto’s list, thanks to his prior stint as head coach of the Brooklyn Nets. Atkinson was heralded for his job rebuilding the team, and the team was worse off firing him.
After originally accepting the Charlotte Hornets’ job last offseason, Atkinson turned them down, showing that he has more than enough leverage to sit back and wait for a more attractive job to come down the line. The Raptors might be able to fit the bill for Atkinson.
After developing a reputation as a standout player development expert who ran a very exciting offense that took an undermanned Nets team to the playoffs, handing Atkinson players like Pascal Siakam and Scottie Barnes might kick this team’s mojo back into high gear.
Will the Toronto Raptors hire Kenny Atkinson?
Atkinson may have a poor win-loss record with Brooklyn, but that was during the dark ages when they were the worst roster in the league with no first-round draft picks. This is the same guy who turned D’Angelo Russell into an All-Star guard and primary scoring option. Kyrie Irving was rattling off 50-point games under Atkinson.
Atkinson’s hallmark included a free-flowing offense dominated by strong guard play and tons of 3-pointers. This may sound like the complete opposite of what Toronto was running last season, but that sort of change might be needed after such lackluster results in 2022-23.
Some may not like the idea of hiring a retread head coach, but the recent success of Coach of the Year Mike Brown in his stint with the Kings might inspire more teams to pluck names off Kerr’s bench. Why give such a challenging situation to someone with now experience?
Atkinson, if nothing else, will get the offense working in tip-top shape. If the Raptors want to lean in on the Scottie Barnes at point guard experiment, Atkinson’s history of turning good guards into great ones might help Barnes take the next step the organization is hoping for.