2012 NBA Offseason: Hawks add former Knicks’ Assistant Kenny Atkinson to coaching staff


It’s a good day for Jeff Teague fans out there.

Rich Schultz for The New York Times

Kenny Atkinson, or the guy who turned Jeremy Lin into a worldwide sensation, is reportedly leaving the New York Knicks for an assistant coaching position with the Atlanta Hawks.

Atkinson, who was responsible for player development in New York, was the only coach held over after Mike D’Antoni resigned in March of last season. Mike Woodson, the current head coach of the Knicks, did not promote Atkinson after D’Antoni’s departure, but instead filled the assistant coaching vacancies with Jim Todd and Darrell Walker.

Atkinson was largely credited as the coach most responsible for Lin’s incredible rise to stardom last season. He reportedly developed a close personal relationship with Lin, and was a constant resource for the young and developing point guard. Lin had this to say about Coach Atkinson:

I mean this guy wakes up at 6 a.m. every morning,” Lin said last February. “I’ll text after a game at midnight, 1 o’clock when I go home and I’ll say, ‘Hey can I look at those turnovers. Can I look at the upcoming team? How they run pick and rolls?’ And he ’ll have the film ready when I walk into the facility the next morning.

“When I wasn’t playing much, we were working out before practice, and after practice he was picking apart my game, teaching me what it’s like to play in Coach D’Antoni’s system.”

Atkinson will be a welcomed addition to the Hawks coaching staff, and maybe one with potential future benefits:

Atkinson is seen a head coaching prospect in the mold of two former Knicks assistant coaches; Jeff Van Gundy and Tom Thibodeau. Woodson will now have to find a player development coach with the energy and dedication Atkinson gave the organization.”

If Atkinson could turn a mildly athletic, undrafted turnover machine into an offensive buzz saw, just imagine what he can do with Jeff Teague.

Tags: Atlanta Hawks Featured Jeff Teague Jeremy Lin Kenny Atkinson Mike D'Antoni Mike Woodson New York Knicks Popular