The Hawks added two assistant coaches to their staff. The team added Jeff Watkinson and Steven Klei following the hiring of coach Quin Snyder almost three weeks ago.
The two worked with Snyder in Utah and have rejoined him as the team transitions to a new era. Watkinson will serve as assistant coach-integrative basketball development, while Klei will be an assistant coach.
Both coaches have begun some work with the team and could be seen at practices and shootarounds working with players.
Watkinson has some familiarity with the Hawks, having served as the Hawks’ head strength-and-conditioning coach. He left the Hawks in 2015 to take an assistant coaching position with the Jazz after three seasons. He also worked with Snyder at Missouri.
“He’s working right now with the front office in a player-development role,” Snyder said of Watkinson at practice Wednesday. “It’s kind of (the) line is blurred as far as him being able to do some stuff on the floor. That’s kind of something we’ve talked about, (Hawks general manager) Landry (Fields) and I, you want that type of intersection in different things, and some of it’s organic.”
Watkinson played baseball at North Carolina State and graduated with a pre-medicine degree. He then earned a master’s degree in exercise science from Indiana and served as the school’s strength-and-conditioning coach from 2006-10. Along with his tenure at Indiana and Missouri, he worked at Clemson, Charlotte and the College of Charleston. He also owned and operated Wat Training, where he worked with NBA players on conditioning and basketball-development skills.
Klei left the Jazz last year and most recently worked as an assistant coach/director of player development for Olimpia Milano in Italy. With the Jazz, he served as a video analyst from 2016-20, earning a promotion to head video coordinator in 2019. He then became a coaching associate for the Jazz in 2020.
“They don’t really talk too much yet,” Hawks forward De’Andre Hunter said Thursday of the two new faces. “You know, Steve talks a little bit more than Jeff. I worked with Jeff this morning just on, like, footwork, things like that. But, you know, Steve really only talks every, every now and then. He doesn’t really say much right now.”
The team still retains the coaching staff that served under former coach Nate McMillan. Snyder has spoken highly of them as he acclimates to the team. Many of them still have at least one year remaining on their contracts.
The new Hawks coach has maintained that his focus remains on getting to know the team. He has not indicated what direction he plans to go with the coaching staff next season.
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Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC