NBA rumors: Lakers interviewing Kenny Atkinson for head coaching position

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D'Antoni is expected to receive consideration for the Hornets' opening. Kupchak hired him in 2012 to helm Los Angeles, and Charlotte is said to value previous head coaching experience in its search, similar to the process in Sacramento. D'Antoni's uncanny ability to maximize playmaking point guards would seem to form a natural marriage with the Hornets' future, featuring second-year All-Star Ball.
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.
The Hornets need a coach who has proven they can win in the playoffs and can win with a talented roster. They also need someone who can have enough success to keep Ball in Charlotte and end the narrative of “He’s bolting for L.A. as soon as his rookie deal is up.” Frank Vogel fits that description. The recently fired Lakers coach won the NBA championship with Los Angeles in the pandemic-shortened 2019-20 season in the Disney bubble and led an injury-plagued team to last year’s playoffs. He’s made the playoffs in seven of his 11 seasons as a head coach, twice taking the Pacers to the Eastern Conference Finals. How Vogel handles relationships with some of his players has come into question recently, with Snoop Dog going so far as to blame him for the way Russell Westbrook’s year ended in L.A., but he has shown he can win.
“We’re extremely pleased with the job that Coach Borrego and his staff have done in their three years in Charlotte,” Kupchak said. “Coach and his staff have built a strong player development program and it has resulted in the continued improvement of our young players. He has implemented an exciting style that our team likes playing and our Hornets fans enjoy watching. Coach has built strong relationships with our players, has demonstrated a great knowledge of the game and has provided tremendous leadership for our group. We’re thrilled to have signed him to an extension and look forward to the future with him leading our team as we continue to grow and improve.”
“I’m thrilled with reaching an extension to remain as the head coach of the Charlotte Hornets,” said Borrego. “I want to thank Michael Jordan, Mitch Kupchak and Buzz Peterson for their continued confidence in me and I want to thank my coaching staff for all of their hard work. I’m truly excited about our future and the direction that we are headed. I’m proud to coach a group of dedicated, hardworking and talented players that are committed to both improving and winning. The City of Charlotte and our Hornets fans have embraced my family and I and we are so happy to continue to make this our home. I cannot wait for the start of training camp and the upcoming season.”
Asked about the Popovich to New York rumors, where former Spurs executive and current Brooklyn Nets GM Sean Marks could be seeking his services, Buford said the Spurs are “under the assumption” Popovich is returning. The coach is also scheduled to coach the USA basketball men’s national team in next summer’s rescheduled Olympic games in Tokyo. “I don’t know if he’s told Brian any differently,” Buford said. “Pop’s shown nothing other than how we’re going to build our team for next year.”
The Brooklyn Nets will begin their head coaching search at the end of their season to find the person they want to lead a championship contender around Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, sources have told The Athletic.
Nets owner Joe Tsai wants a full-scale head coaching process to identify the best partner for team ownership, the front office, coaching staff and players, sources say. Current head coach Jacque Vaughn is the incumbent and will be a significant candidate to retain the job he currently holds. Nets GM Sean Marks will work closely with ownership and his front office on the task of finding the proper leader for the position with Brooklyn as a leading title threat for the 2020-21 season.
Though the Nets’ goal in 2020-21 is to compete for a championship, two NBA sources insist Vaughn has a decent chance at returning to the helm after taking over for the fired Kenny Atkinson, now a candidate to coach the Knicks. Vaughn did not have “interim’’ formally placed in his title like the Knicks’ Mike Miller did.
One league source says the motivation for Marks to keep Vaughn is that the GM can have input with him. The two go back to their San Antonio days when Marks was an executive there and Vaughn was an assistant coach from 2010-12.
The Charlotte Hornets have reached agreement on a four-year contract to hire San Antonio Spurs assistant James Borrego as head coach, league sources told ESPN on Thursday. The Hornets will hold a team option on the fourth year of the contract, league sources said.
Borrego has already begun working to build his coaching staff with the Hornets, after beginning work on finalizing the contract Tuesday, league sources said. He is believed to the first full-time Hispanic-American NBA head coach. Kaleb Canales, who is of Mexican-American descent, served as interim coach of the Portland Trail Blazers for the final 23 games of the 2011-12 season.
Fifteen years removed from working his way into the NBA as an assistant video coordinator, James Borrego is now officially one of 30 head coaches at the top level of basketball. The Charlotte Hornets and Borrego finalized contract terms Thursday, after Borrego, 40, interviewed with team owner Michael Jordan over the weekend, a team source confirmed. Working for new general manager Mitch Kupchak, Borrego, 40, replaces Steve Clifford, who was fired last month after five seasons on the job.
Like Clifford, Borrego worked his way up from the bottom rung of the NBA, without the advantage of having played in the league. A former college player at the University of San Diego, Borrego got his first opportunity with the San Antonio Spurs breaking down game footage. He sufficiently impressed his bosses to be promoted to an assistant coach, serving in two separate stints with future Hall of Famer Gregg Popovich.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Spurs assistant James Borrego will interview for Milwaukee job next week, league sources tell ESPN. Borrego is one of two frontrunners for Charlotte job, sources said. So, Bucks will interview four Spurs: Borrego, Ettore Messina, Becky Hammon and front office's Monty Williams.
Boston Celtics assistant Jay Larranaga has emerged as a strong candidate to be the next Charlotte Hornets coach, the Observer has learned. While the Hornets haven’t made a final choice, Larranaga, 43, is under strong consideration, a source familiar with the process confirmed.
Larranaga is the top assistant to Celtics coach Brad Stevens. The Celtics have taken a 2-0 lead over the Philadelphia 76ers in a second-round playoff series. He is the son of Miami Hurricanes coach Jim Larranaga. He was actually born in Charlotte in 1975. Larranaga had a long playing career in Europe before going into coaching in 2008. He worked in the NBA’s Developmental League, coaching the Erie Bay Hawks, before being hired by the Celtics in 2012.
Ex-NBA head coach Jim Cleamons had an informal phone conversation with Bucks general manager Jon Horst this morning in regards to their head coach opening, a source said. 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.
The Bulls have granted permission to the Hornets to interview associate head coach Jim Boylen for Charlotte’s head coaching vacancy, sources said. Boylen, who has been Fred Hoiberg’s top assistant coach since 2015, has head coaching experience in college at Utah and also directed the Bulls to a victory over the Wizards on Easter Sunday when Hoiberg fell ill.
David Fizdale, a frontrunner from the start of this process, has reportedly "gained serious traction" to becoming the next Knicks coach. A source confirmed that language reported by Yahoo! but also emphasized a deal with Fizdale was not finalized. As of Wednesday evening, other candidates had not been informed they were out of the race, according to multiple sources. Fizdale also interviewed - or was reportedly scheduled to interview -- for the jobs in Charlotte, Phoenix and Orlando.
Orazio Cauchi: Ettore Messina had a four hour long meeting with the @Charlotte Hornets yesterday, according to @Gazzetta_it . The meeting was positive but no final decision was taken. Hornets have still to interview other candidates but Messina is definitely in consideration for the job. #NBA
Adrian Wojnarowski: San Antonio assistant Ime Udoka will interview for the Charlotte Hornets coaching vacancy later this week, league sources tell ESPN. Udoka joins Spurs assistant Ettore Messina and David Fizdale among candidates scheduled to meet Charlotte this week.
The Charlotte Hornets will act quickly to interview San Antonio Spurs assistant Ettore Messina for their head-coaching opening, as soon as the Spurs season is complete. A source familiar the situation said Messina will interview as early as the middle of next week, if the Spurs are eliminated by the Golden State Warriors by then. Ettore coached the Spurs in Thursday’s loss to the Warriors, as head coach Gregg Popovich mourned the death of his wife, Erin.
The Charlotte Hornets will act quickly to interview San Antonio Spurs assistant Ettore Messina for their head-coaching opening, as soon as the Spurs season is complete. A source familiar the situation said Messina will interview as early as the middle of next week, if the Spurs are eliminated by the Golden State Warriors by then.
Messina, 58, was a highly successful International coach (four European championships) in Italy, Spain and Russia before joining Popovich’s staff in 2016. He has a previous connection to new Hornets general manager Mitch Kupchak, from when Messina served as a consultant to Kupchak’s previous team, the Los Angeles Lakers, in 2012.
Sources have indicated Orlando is hotter on Stackhouse’s trail, and he reportedly has an interview there shortly. Charlotte has expressed interest, too. Knicks GM Scott Perry was in the Pistons’ front office, overlapping for two seasons when Stackhouse played in Detroit.
Adrian Wojnarowski: The Charlotte Hornets have received permission to interview San Antonio Spurs assistant Ettore Messina for head coach opening, league sources tell ESPN. GM Mitch Kupchak and Messina worked together with Lakers, when Messina was part of Mike Brown’s coaching staff.
Chris Mannix: An early favorite among Hornets officials: David Fizdale. But Fizdale--who is highly regarded despite how things ended in Memphis--could have better options.
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Since these bench decorum issues generally have been resolved after the league intervenes, technical fouls have not been used a deterrent, and the league does not plan to start issuing techs during the conference finals. However, the topic will be discussed in the offseason, and the league will explore ways to address bench decorum during games in real time, a person with knowledge of the situation told USA TODAY Sports.
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