Hornets To Interview D’Antoni, Atkinson, Ham, Sweeney

The Hornets have begun the initial interview process for their head coaching vacancy, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter), who states that the team’s initial list includes former Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni, current Warriors assistant and former Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson, Bucks lead assistant Darvin Ham, and Mavericks assistant Sean Sweeney.

As Wojnarowski observes (Twitter link), D’Antoni worked with Hornets president of basketball operations and general manager Mitch Kupchak while the two were with the Lakers, and they “had a good working relationship.” D’Antoni holds 16 seasons worth of head coaching experience with Denver, Phoenix, New York, Los Angeles and Houston, compiling a regular season record of 672-527.

The 70-year-old interviewed for the Kings’ head coaching job, but isn’t a finalist. D’Antoni is renowned for his offensive acumen and helped get the best from a couple of elite offensive players in Steve Nash and James Harden. Clearly, Charlotte thinks he might help with LaMelo Ball‘s development.

Atkinson was an assistant with the Knicks and Hawks prior to becoming Brooklyn’s head coach from 2016-20, where he compiled a 118-190 record. Those numbers are a bit deceiving, because he inherited a young, flawed roster that he helped lead to the playoffs in his third year at the helm. He has been an assistant with the Clippers and the Warriors the past two seasons.

Ham has been very busy recently. In addition to serving as Mike Budenholzer‘s top assistant with the Bucks as they try to defend their title, Ham has also interviewed for the lead coaching jobs in Sacramento and Los Angeles. Ham has been an NBA assistant for 11 years; he started with the Lakers for a couple seasons prior to working under Budenholzer in Atlanta and now Milwaukee.

Sweeney is in his ninth season as an assistant coach, having spent time with Brooklyn, Milwaukee, Detroit and now Dallas. He has worked under Mavs head coach Jason Kidd with the Nets, Bucks and Mavs.

Sweeney has been credited with leading the team’s defensive turnaround — after ranking 21st in defensive rating last season, Dallas was seventh this season. The Mavs went 3-1 with Sweeney serving as acting head coach when Kidd was in the health and safety protocols back in January.

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