(Reuters) - The struggling Brooklyn Nets on Sunday appointed Atlanta Hawks assistant Kenny Atkinson as their new head coach, a position he will fill once his postseason commitments are over.
Atkinson, 48, will take over from Tony Brown, who performed the role on an interim basis for the Nets after former head coach Lionel Hollins was fired in January.
He will become the 21st head coach for the franchise after spending the past four seasons as an assistant with the Hawks under head coach Mike Budenholzer.
“We are thrilled to announce Kenny Atkinson as our new head coach and to welcome him and his family to Brooklyn,” Nets general manager Sean Marks said in a statement.
”Kenny’s years of NBA coaching experience working under successful head coaches such as Mike Budenholzer and Mike D‘Antoni have provided him with the foundation and experience we were looking for in a head coach.
“We believe that Kenny’s core principles, leadership, communication skills and exceptional background in player development make him an ideal fit for the culture we are building in Brooklyn.”
Atkinson will take charge of a team which struggled to a 21-61 record during the 2015-16 regular season, finishing 14th in the 15-team Eastern Conference standings.
“I am truly honored and humbled to be named the head coach of the Brooklyn Nets, and I would like to thank Nets’ ownership and management for this tremendous opportunity,” said Atkinson.
”I also want to acknowledge and thank Mike Budenholzer and the entire Atlanta Hawks organization for their cooperation and support throughout this process.
“While I am eager to begin working with the Nets, I remain committed to my coaching responsibilities with the Hawks for the remainder of the postseason.”
The Hawks lead the Boston Celtics 1-0 in their best-of-seven Eastern Conference first-round series after a winning a nailbiting Game One 102-101 on Saturday.
Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Andrew Both