Clippers Rumors: Kenny Atkinson, Larry Drew, Dan Craig Commit to Lue's Staff

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistOctober 27, 2020

Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson reacts during a timeout the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Washington Wizards, Friday, March 24, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Alex Brandon/Associated Press

Kenny Atkinson, Dan Craig and Larry Drew have committed to join Tyronn Lue's staff with the Los Angeles Clippers as assistants, according to the Los Angeles Times' Andrew Greif.

Their deals have reportedly yet to be finalized, however.

Craig has been an assistant for the Miami Heat since the 2016-17 season and coached the Sioux Falls Skyforce of the NBA G League in 2015-16. Drew was previously the head coach of the Atlanta Hawks and Milwaukee Bucks before working alongside Lue on the Cleveland Cavaliers' staff. Drew took over for Lue after the Cavs fired him in October 2018.

Atkinson, 53, spent the previous four seasons as the head coach of the Brooklyn Nets. He was hired in April 2016 as part of the team's ongoing rebuilding effort, eventually making major strides and making the playoffs in 2019. The team was the No. 7 seed in the Eastern Conference at the time of his firing.

General manager Sean Marks told reporters Atkinson's voice was not making as much of a difference in the locker room at the time of his firing. The Nets' signings of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and DeAndre Jordan changed the dynamic in 2019-20, and Irving was the one often cited as the reason behind Atkinson's departure, though Marks denied that players were involved in the decision.

"Kenny and I had these pretty frank conversations. And it wasn't last night, 24 hours; there wasn't one game," Marks said. "This was a culmination of events over the course of the year. Kenny's brutally honest, and the humility he showed to admit 'My voice is not what it once was here. It's time.'

"This is a compromise that Kenny and I and ownership came up with; it was time. Kenny grinded and did everything he could, but it was time for another voice in that locker room, and it's our job to find it."

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Atkinson's career record of 118-190 is bad on paper but undersells the impact he made in Brooklyn. Spencer Dinwiddie and Joe Harris went from G Leaguers barely hanging on to their NBA existence to bona fide, solid rotation pieces—and a near-2020 All-Star in Dinwiddie's case. Developmental projects like Caris LeVert and Jarrett Allen also began realizing their potential under Atkinson.

The Clippers would look to take advantage of Atkinson's developmental acumen, potentially as they try to refill their rotation after likely departures this offseason.