After the Charlotte Hornets parted ways with head coach Steve Clifford, team owner Michael Jordan has several options for a new replacement.
According to Marc Spears, the Hornets are reportedly considering Jim Cleamons. The 68-year-old was teammates with new Hornets general manager Mitch Kupchak during his final season in the NBA (via ESPN):
“Cleamons, who was an assistant coach when Michael Jordan starred with the Chicago Bulls, is also getting interest for head coach openings with Jordan’s Charlotte Hornets and Chicago State. Cleamons, 68, won an NBA championship as a player with the Lakers and nine as an assistant coach with the Bulls and Lakers.”
Spears added that Cleamons also had an informal conversation with Milwaukee Bucks general manager Jon Horst about their head coaching vacancy as well.
It wouldn’t be surprising if he got a call from the Orlando Magic, who also have an opening, considering their executive Jon Hammond hired him when they were with Milwaukee.
Cleamons, currently in the collegiate ranks, most recently worked in the NBA for the New York Knicks as an assistant coach. He was also an assistant with the Bucks before as well as with the Los Angeles Lakers. When he was with the Lakers, Kupchak was their general manager.
Not only has he coached overseas in China and for several college programs but he also has previous experience with the Hornets organization (2002-04) when they were in New Orleans.
He won an NBA championship as a player in 1972 and was also a part of nine different title teams as a coach. But the biggest concern about him is that he has not been a head coach in the league since his tenure with the Dallas Mavericks in the late 1990s and as a head coach, his record was subpar.
If he is not hired as a head coach this offseason, he has ties around the league that could help him find an opening as an assistant. During his playing career with the Lakers, he was teammates with Miami Heat owner Pat Riley as well as Los Angeles Clippers executive Jerry West.
Cleamons has also coached Chicago Bulls general manager John Paxson as well as Toni Kukoc, who is a special advisor for the organization. He later coached alongside Paxson in Chicago as well.
The Golden State Warriors could be in the market for an assistant coach if Jarron Collins is hired elsewhere this offseason and Cleamons worked with Steve Kerr on the Bulls.
Other players he has coached who have coaching experience include Jason Kidd, Sam Cassell, Kevin Ollie, Derek Fisher, Tyronn Lue, Brian Shaw, Ime Udoka and Luke Walton. He and Shaw later coached together on the Lakers staff and with Fisher on the Knicks staff.
Udoka is currently an assistant for the San Antonio Spurs but in contention for a few of the head coaching vacancies in the NBA.
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