NBA rumors: Kenny Atkinson emerges as frontrunner for Hornets job

Golden State Warriors assistant Kenny Atkinson has emerged as a front-runner for the Charlotte Hornets’ head-coaching job, sources tell The Athletic, and will meet next week with team officials — including owner Michael Jordan — in the next step of his candidacy.

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Two-time Coach of the Year Mike D’Antoni and former Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts are among the other finalists in the Hornets’ coaching search that started in late April when the team fired James Borrego. Neither D’Antoni nor Stotts has so far advanced to the Jordan stage of the process, sources said, but that possibility remains.
As team representatives from throughout the NBA prepare to head to Chicago for the annual tradition of a week's worth of predraft activities starting Monday, there is ongoing buzz in league coaching circles that Mike D'Antoni is in a strong position to land the Charlotte Hornets' head coaching job. Defensive issues were said to be a key element of James Borrego's unexpected downfall after four solid seasons, but Charlotte is nonetheless said to want a veteran coach who can forge a strong connection with All-Star guard LaMelo Ball, who would presumably thrive in an offense D'Antoni surely tailors around him completely. Another factor in D'Antoni's favor despite his reputed aversion to defensive matters: Hornets president of basketball operations Mitch Kupchak already hired D'Antoni once with the Lakers.
Other candidates known to have interviewed for the Hornets' post include Warriors assistant coach Kenny Atkinson, Bucks assistant Darvin Ham and Mavericks assistant Sean Sweeney.
The Hornets, league sources say, would have interest in Snyder if he indeed parts ways with the Jazz following Utah's third first-round exit in the past four seasons. Very little, beyond that, has seeped out yet about Charlotte's search. Snyder is expected to meet with Utah-based reporters as early as this week for his annual end-of-season news conference after Jazz general manager Justin Zanik said Friday that there is “no other partner” he would rather have.
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August 9, 2022 | 5:47 pm EDT Update
According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, the meeting took place this past Saturday, and Kevin Durant indicated that he could stay with Brooklyn if general manager Sean Marks and coach Steve Nash were no longer there. Understandably, peers of Marks and Nash were not happy. “I get that players have more power these days, but I think it’s a little too far if he’s out here trying to get Steve fired,” said one coach, who was quickly reminded of Magic Johnson’s fingerprints on Paul Westhead’s firing back in November of 1981 and other power plays, some of which may well have been justified.
The head of basketball ops from another club was similarly displeased. “Livid,” he said. “Livid. He and Kyrie (Irving) basically told Sean they were coming (as free agents in 2019), and Sean did pretty much everything they wanted after that. Signing DeAndre Jordan for four years? That’s something Kyrie and KD wanted. Getting James Harden? Then getting a guy who should be a perfect complement to them (Ben Simmons) when Harden wanted out? Sean did all that.”
However, when asked if he would welcome Durant to his own club should he be attainable at a fair price, the exec paused and laughed. “Well … ” he said. “OK, you got me there. But, see, that’s the part of this that will always be hard for some people to grasp. I’m talking about the fans who just see the players as employees. These guys are not interchangeable parts. You can’t just plug in someone else to do what KD does.”
August 9, 2022 | 3:12 pm EDT Update
Billed as “the most fun fun sports doc of all time”, the as-yet-untitled feature will be a three-man weave combining basketball, hip-hop, the Bay Area and late-’80s/early-’90s nostalgia. Mason Gordon will produce for MSM, with RTG Features acting as the studio. 2022 Emmy nominees Coodie & Chike (Jeen-yuhs: A Kanye Trilogy) developed the film in partnership with RTG and will serve as executive producers.