The Charlotte Hornets are beginning to interview candidates for the franchise’s head coach opening, including the possibility of a reunion for general manager Mitch Kupchak with ex-Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni, sources told ESPN.
D’Antoni has been identified as a serious candidate early on in the process, mainly due to the possibility of linking him to young point guard LaMelo Ball, sources said.
D’Antoni will meet with the Hornets, along with several current assistant coaches with whom Charlotte has asked permission to speak, including Golden State’s Kenny Atkinson, Milwaukee’s Darvin Ham and Dallas’ Sean Sweeney, sources said. All three assistants are currently coaching in the playoffs.
Atkinson, 54, inherited a suppressed Nets team and led it to the Eastern Conference playoffs in his third season in 2018-2019. He built a strong reputation in player development as both assistant and head coach.
Ham was a member of Mike Budenholzer’s staff at Milwaukee and Atlanta and has been seriously considered for several head coach positions in recent years, including his current involvement with the Lakers opening.
Sweeney is considered the architect of the Mavericks’ surprise defense this season, having worked with head coach Jason Kidd at both the Nets and Bucks. This is his first interview for a head coach job.
D’Antoni is a two-time NBA Coach of the Year and has a record of 672-527 (.560) in nearly 1,200 games in two decades with Denver, Phoenix, New York, Los Angeles and Houston. He spent the past season as a coaching consultant for Willie Green and the New Orleans Pelicans.
Charlotte fired coach James Borrego, who led the Hornets to consecutive appearances in the play-in tournament and made improvements from more than 10 wins in consecutive seasons on the job.