It is generally believed that people who become head coaches do so so that they can run their own shop in their own way. That coaches are rarely given that freedom anymore is next to the point – people have to dream the dream they have conjured up for themselves.
Therefore, the relatively quiet announcement on Friday that Golden State assistant coach Kenny Atkinson had changed his mind and decided not to make more money in Charlotte was a bit of a stump. Just a little though; I think we’re all stuffed into the gills with Warrior stories for a while, and they do not have their traffic disruptive drunken parade until Monday.
But Atkinson will be there on the float with Mike Brown, who took another job (Sacramento, of all places), confident in the knowledge that he will be an assistant to Steve Kerr. . . well, probably to something better than Charlotte is coming.
Still, the reprimand is the thing here, in that at least one person with a chance to be the boss has decided to stay with the old boss, and allows us to postulate potential theories as to why Atkinson did not want to be a Hornet, or if you must, and Jordanaire. Put it this way: The move was surprising enough that The Athletic has not scrubbed “What does the Hornets get in Kenny Atkinson?” history from nine days ago.
But no one has put a finger, tentacle, claw or tail on why Atkinson did things coaches do not, and leaves us wondering why he put money and power on the table. To know:
- Maybe he did not put money on the table anyway. It seems like a small and unlikely reason to stay, but Joe Lacob seems to be enjoying his reputation as a flashy money changer, and there would be no more owner / gangster move than paying more for one assistant than another. owner would do for a head coach, especially when the other owner is Michael Jordan. This seems unlikely since Atkinson agreed to go to Charlotte before he did not agree, so the money was probably right enough at the moment, but the freedom of action under Jordan and general manager Mitch Kupchak suddenly felt more restrictive than the possibility of getting new rings.
- Perhaps the Hornets’ suspicion that they are about to lose Miles Bridges, their second best player, due to free throws, and the idea that a team outside the playoffs is less playoffs did not appeal to Atkinson after eight days of reflection. This also seems unlikely, as he would have asked about it in his interviews.
- Maybe he’s got a promise that he’s going to succeed Kerr in San Francisco, even though it seems like an awful long time to cool his ambitions. The general assumption is that Kerr will stay as long as Stephen Curry makes Kerr’s life too easy for words, that is, Kerr will be until Curry leaves. Assuming Curry stays at $ 59 million through the year in 2026, Atkinson’s wait time will be exhausting. This seems unlikely because there will be other vacancies and Atkinson’s name will only brighten brighter with the wait. Also, training Warriors without Curry seems too much like actual work.
- Maybe he likes the gentle price of real estate in the Bay Area, in that he can get a lovely five-bed four-bath three acre home in Fresno and three hours each way commuting is no big deal for him because he can design offensive sets in his head as he drives through Lathrop. Maybe if he had kept the Charlotte concert, he would have commuted from Charleston. It seems unlikely because only an idiot would do it.
- Maybe he just had his ambitions knocked out of him when he was undermined in Brooklyn, where what he did worked until Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving’s regime change did everything he built irrelevant to the bigger issue of player power. The Warriors are better at avoiding agenda miners than most teams because Curry’s agenda is not other agendas, and he is still the alpha-est of all the Warriors in the kennel. It seems unlikely because he was ready to go to Charlotte, which is ambition at the expense of common sense.
- Maybe he likes the new, little-remembered, naming Warriors, or he does not want to miss a single “Fuck Draymond Green” song for the rest of Green’s career. This also seems unlikely, but it’s an appealing lure when you consider that some of the people who embraced the new battle song were his teammates. I mean, if Warrior fans do not sing it at the ringing ceremony on Opening Night, they just do not get the new mood of the team. This seems at least a little plausible because who would not want to hear the fans use that song as a badge of honor and gratitude?
- Maybe Kerr thought about losing Atkinson and Brown at the same time and decided he had a better chance of beating Atkinson to submission to prevent him from leaving than Brown. This makes a lot of tangential sense given that Kerr is a superb red-ass behind the articulate veneer, and it would be nice fun to imagine him as a nice guy with a rarely shown side of vengeful psychopath.
Of these theories, numbers 6 and 7 seem the most entertaining if not necessarily the most plausible. And unless Atkinson has a better story than any of these, they are the ones we agree to until he gets the offer he can not turn down from Detroit in 2023.. . or Houston in 2024.. . or New York in 2025.. . or Sacramento in 2023 or 2025 or 2027 or 2029 or. . . Well, you know a pattern when you see one. Mike Brown is a great guy and a good tactician, but it’s still Sacramento, with the same joy of firing coaches because of the lack of better ideas. Brown may envy Kenny Atkinson for staying, for whatever reason. At least that’s the way to go.