NBA rumors: Mike D'Antoni in a strong position to land Hornets head coaching job

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.
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August 9, 2022 | 6:25 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.”