Charlotte Hornets: Coaching search down to two names

NBA Mike D'Antoni (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
NBA Mike D'Antoni (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

After the firing of James Borrego, the Charlotte Hornets are still looking for a head coach. After another year in the play-in tournament, the team looks to take the next step in building around their young core.

According to Adrian Wojnarowski, the Hornets’ front office has narrowed the search down to two candidates: Mike D’Antoni and Kenny Atkinson. D’Antoni was most recently an assistant for Brooklyn last season, while Atkinson is currently on the Warriors’ staff.

Golden State has already lost one of their assistants in this head coach cycle with Mike Brown being hired by Sacramento. Atkinson has been coveted by many since his successful tenure with the Nets, unexpectedly leading them to the playoffs in the 2018-2019 season before resigning just before the bubble.

Atkinson was impressive in developing the young talent in Brooklyn, including the likes of D’Angelo Russell, Caris LeVert, Jarrett Allen, and Joe Harris. Once Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant signed with the team the following season, there seemed to be a disconnect between the duo and the coaching staff, leading to them getting their head coach of choice in the building (Steve Nash).

He’s continued to be a candidate for multiple jobs as one of the most qualified assistants in the NBA. He undoubtedly deserves another chance after a relatively successful first tenure and could bring new energy to the Charlotte Hornets. LaMelo Ball, Miles Bridges, and Terry Rozier are three great pieces for a core of a contending team, but Atkinson would be great at getting everyone to buy in and play with intensity on the defensive end.

The Hornets were in the bottom 10 in terms of defensive rating this season, employing few above-average defenders in the entire roster. They’ll likely need to sign a defensive anchor at center to help sure up some of their deficiencies on the perimeter.

On the other end, the Hornets can completely buy into the offensive side of the ball by hiring Mike D’Antoni. One of the most experienced coaches of all time, D’Antoni made a name for himself with Phoenix in the mid-2000s, and late Houston, helping James Harden win an MVP.

It would be intriguing to see what LaMelo Ball looks like in a D’Antoni system, as he’ll likely see a drastic uptick in all statistical categories. Instead of trying to improve the defensive side of the ball, the Charlotte Hornets could employ P.J. Washington at center and play a five-out, quick-paced offense. With this offensive personnel, there’s no reason why the Hornets shouldn’t score 120 a game under D’Antoni.

Ultimately, each candidate will have to get the stamp of approval from Michael Jordan.

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It will be interesting to see what the greatest player of all time values more – buying fully into the offense (with an extremely high upside) or trying to become a more balanced, consistent team with Kenny Atkinson.