Kenny Atkinson Viewed as Best Candidate for Bulls Job, According to NBA GM

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistAugust 15, 2020

Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson gestures from the sideline during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Orlando Magic, Monday, Feb. 24, 2020, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
Kathy Willens/Associated Press

As the Chicago Bulls begin their search for a new head coach, at least one NBA general manager thinks Kenny Atkinson is the best fit for the job. 

Per Michael Scotto of HoopsHype, the unnamed general manager explained why Atkinson would fit what the Bulls need. 

“I think the list will change, but out of the group mentioned, I think Kenny would be the favorite. Some of it depends on (Bulls executive vice president of basketball operations) Arturas (Karnisovas') timeline, but Kenny can coach, and he can oversee player development. He will be able to compete on the court while also continuing to develop the young guys.”

The Bulls announced Friday that Jim Boylen has been relieved of his duties as head coach after two seasons. 

Atkinson spent four seasons as head coach of the Brooklyn Nets before stepping down March 7. The 53-year-old went 118-190 overall and made a postseason appearance after the 2018-19 campaign. 

Scotto noted Atkinson is among a large group of options being considered by the Bulls. Other candidates mentioned include Wes Unseld Jr., Adrian Griffin, Darvin Ham, Ime Udoka, David Vanterpool and Stephen Silas. 

One reason Atkinson could be intriguing to the Bulls stems from Karnisovas' comments Friday about what he wants in a new coach. 

"In terms of what we're looking for, we're going to continue focusing on player development," he told reporters. "Someone who puts relationships with players first and is a good communicator. ... We are starting the search immediately."

Atkinson was widely praised for his work with the 2018-19 Nets. A majority of that team's key contributors, including D'Angelo Russell, Spencer Dinwiddie, Caris LeVert and Jarrett Allen, were all 25 years old or younger. 

The Bulls finished this season 22-43, their third consecutive year with a losing record. They have just one postseason appearance since the start of the 2015-16 season.