When the Golden State Warriors hired Luke Walton away from the Los Angeles Clippers this summer, his ascension to the bench was met with a collective shrug. Not everyone thought he was a great fit for the Warriors; some questioned whether he was the right man to lead the team in the wake of Steve Kerr’s departure. It seems like such a short time ago that the NBA’s best team was jockeying for position with the Los Angeles Lakers, who were chasing a championship of their own.

The Golden State Warriors have an opening on their bench for an assistant coach. The team has reportedly offered the job to assistant coach Nick U’Ren, who was fired by the Clippers earlier this month.

For more than 40 years, the Los Angeles Clippers and the Golden State Warriors have competed against each other in the NBA’s Western Conference. But usually one of them (and often both) is caught up in long periods of mediocrity. Recently, the situation has changed: Los Angeles has become a near-constant playoff team, and the Warriors have won three titles since 2015. Now the situation has taken another step forward, as Golden State is reportedly preparing to hire Clippers assistant Kenny Atkinson.

Atkinson joined the Clippers before last season after nearly four seasons as head coach of the Brooklyn Nets. Before that, he was an assistant coach with the New York Knicks and the Atlanta Hawks. Although he never played in the NBA, Atkinson was a professional point guard from 1990 to 2004 in several minor leagues in the United States and abroad, in Spain, Italy, Germany, France and the Netherlands. The Warriors have reportedly made Atkinson Steve Kerr’s top assistant.

If you think Warriors already have a top assistant at this point, you’re right.

Kenny Atkinson becomes one of the Golden State Warriors’ top assistants

Brooklyn Nets coach Kenny Atkinson reacts during the first half against the Boston Celtics in Game 3. March 2020. Atkinson has reportedly joined the staff of the Golden State Warriors as a senior assistant. | Catherine Riley/Getty Images

Mike Brown has been one of the Golden State Warriors’ top passers since he replaced Luke Walton in 2016. Brown isn’t going anywhere; the Warriors are getting two top pass rushers in his place, reports The Athletic.

Atkinson comes to the team with a strong reputation as a player development coach, as he has worked with playmakers like Jeff Teague in Atlanta and D’Angelo Russell and Spencer Dinwiddie in Brooklyn. He was Tyronn Lue’s top assistant with the Clippers last season, and given the vacancies at teams starting to rebuild, like… B. the Orlando Magic, it is surprising that he is not a more popular candidate for the head coach job.

Atkinson inherited the Nets at the low point of 2016, a lousy team gambling on a super deal and three rounds away from winning the NBA title in 2014. Brooklyn didn’t have a pick or much talent, and Atkinson won just 48 games in his first two seasons.

But in the 2018-19 season, with a roster made up of rookies and waivers, the Nets won 42 games and returned to the playoffs. That victory preceded the signing of Brooklyn superstars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, and that’s where things didn’t go as Atkinson would have liked. He was born on the 7th. March 2020 shooting, just four days before the pandemic shuts down the NBA season for four months.

Warriors and Clippers weren’t always so friendly

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The Golden State Warriors and Clippers have only made the playoffs twice, both times in the last seven years. They met in an emotionally intense series in the first round of the 2014 NBA playoffs during the Donald Sterling controversy in Los Angeles. Golden State led the Clippers to seven games before losing.

They were given a different role in 2019. This time Los Angeles was the underdog, while Golden State was the two-time NBA champion. The Warriors won a first-round game in 2019, but not before the Clippers set an NBA record by erasing a 31-point deficit and winning Game 2 at Oracle Arena in Oakland.

In 2013, the teams even got into a fight on Christmas Eve, resulting in several altercations and broadcasts.

Golden State Warriors have the culture to make an unusual deal with acoach

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The evolution of the NBA coaching staff has led to the Golden State Warriors naming several coaches as lead assistants. But the Warriors have such an established system that it works almost seamlessly.

Steve Kerr is entering his eighth season as Golden State’s coach and has three rings to his name, while Mike Brown is an NBA veteran with more than seven seasons as a head coach in Cleveland and with the Lakers. He coached LeBron James with the Cavs and Kobe Bryant in Los Angeles. He also coached the Nigerian national team that defeated Team USA in a pre-Olympic practice match.

Atkinson is also a veteran who has been in the NBA long enough to understand and fit the roles. However, there are reports that Atkinson did not get along well with Irving, especially when the Nets went from an underdog to a superteam. This season he worked with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George in Los Angeles. Now he gets to see the dynamic between Kerr and Stephen Curry firsthand.

The Clippers and Golden State Warriors may not be sworn enemies, but they do have a shared history. Will hijacking a coach away worsen the name recognition? Rivalries in the NBA arise from minor incidents.

Statistics courtesy of Basketball-Reference.

COMPARED TO: Golden State Warriors may have a bold plan for theirlottery pick.

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