CLEVELAND (AP) — Kenny Atkinson’s first stint as an NBA head coach ended with a sudden, strange separation in Brooklyn.

He’s hoping for a longer-lasting relationship in Cleveland.

The Cavaliers finalized a five-year contract on Friday with Atkinson, who spent the past three seasons as an assistant with Golden State and now takes over a Cleveland team coming off its second straight playoff appearance.

In choosing the respected Atkinson, the Cavs ended a monthlong search that began after the firing of J.B. Bickerstaff, who led the team to 99 wins the past two seasons. Bickerstaff was let go after Cleveland lost in five games to Boston in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

“Kenny brings a wealth of experience, a proven track record of player development, and a relentless work ethic that aligns with the vision we have for this franchise,” said Koby Altman, the team’s president of basketball operations. “His innovative approach will instill a style of play and brand of basketball that will give us a chance for sustainable success and ultimately compete for championships.

“His familiarity coaching alongside some of the NBA’s best elevates this partnership and we are excited that Kenny will guide our team and help us achieve our goals both on and off the court.”

The Cavs plan to introduce Atkinson at a news conference on Monday.

There was a delay in Atkinson signing his contract because he was in France helping its national team prepare for the upcoming Paris Olympics. He’ll be back in Europe next week for exhibition games with the French team.

Atkinson arrived in Cleveland on Wednesday and was in the team’s draft room when the Cavs selected Cal forward Jaylon Tyson with the No. 20 overall pick.

Atkinson’s hiring is another significant move in a pivotal summer for a Cleveland team that believes it has the necessary roster to compete for a championship. The next step — and perhaps the most important — is getting All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell to sign a long-term contract, which he is expected to do.

The 57-year-old Atkinson is a safe, sound pick by the team’s front office and chairman Dan Gilbert, who hasn’t always handled coaching searches with aplomb. Gilbert’s outside-the-box hires of first-time NBA coaches David Blatt and John Beilein backfired badly.

Atkinson is far less risky.

He has the resume, highlighted by offensive success and a reputation for developing players. Atkinson began as an assistant under Mike D’Antoni in New York and has also been on staffs with Tyronn Lue and most recently Steve Kerr.

The Cavs are counting on Atkinson to bring out the best in their young players, particularly 23-year-old forward Evan Mobley, and take the team further than Bickertaff could.

His experience with the Nets undoubtedly shaped Atkinson. Although his record wasn’t sparkling (118-190), he got Brooklyn’s players to buy in and the team made incremental improvements in each of his four seasons, making the playoffs in Year 3.

However, 62 games into the 2020 season, Atkinson was pushed out amid an ownership change and the ballyhooed arrivals of stars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. His dismissal remains somewhat mysterious, one of those behind-the-scenes power struggles that percolate throughout the league.

The Cavs were also drawn to Atkinson’s offensive ingenuity. Under him, the Nets were at the forefront of playing faster and shooting more 3-pointers, a trend that took off and was embraced by the champion Celtics this season.

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