Kenny Atkinson is the frontrunner to land the Hornets‘ head coaching job, according to Shams Charania and Sam Amick of The Athletic, who report that the Warriors assistant will soon have another meeting with Hornets team officials. It’ll be Atkinson’s third meeting with Charlotte and the first one with team owner Michael Jordan in attendance, per The Athletic’s duo.
Mike D’Antoni and Terry Stotts are among the other candidates still in play for the Hornets’ head coaching vacancy, though neither of them has been invited to meet with Jordan so far, sources tell The Athletic. It’s possible that could change in the coming days.
Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report stated earlier this week that Atkinson and D’Antoni are among Charlotte’s finalists to replace James Borrego, noting at the time that Atkinson’s candidacy had gained momentum in recent weeks but D’Antoni was still believed to be favored by Jordan. Marc Stein reported today that he continues to hear the Hornets are likely to choose between Atkinson and D’Antoni.
The Hornets believe they’re on the verge of being a playoff team and want a head coach who will help the club take the next step, as well as providing “development and defensive structure” for key players like LaMelo Ball and Miles Bridges, per Charania and Amick.
Hornets president of basketball operations Mitch Kupchak has led the team’s head coaching search after recently signing a two-year contract extension. That deal features a trigger allowing him to transition to a consulting role if and when he wants to do so, sources tell The Athletic.
The Warriors have already lost one key member of Steve Kerr‘s staff this spring, as Mike Brown agreed to become the new head coach in Sacramento. If Atkinson departs for Charlotte, Golden State will be down a pair of top assistants.