Kenny Atkinson could become the Hornets‘ next head coach by the end of the upcoming week, a source tells Roderick Boone of The Charlotte Observer, though he cautions that the team still hasn’t reached a final decision. A report on Friday identified Atkinson as the frontrunner for the job, and Boone indicates that momentum for him has been building since last month’s draft combine.
Atkinson has been tied up with his duties as an assistant coach for the Warriors, but with three days between Games 2 and 3 of the NBA Finals, he should have time for a face-to-face meeting with team owner Michael Jordan. Boone notes that an in-person session with Jordan was the last step before James Borrego was hired four years ago.
The Hornets are intrigued by Atkinson’s experience, history of developing young players and emphasis on defense, Boone adds. The Finals could last through June 19, which would limit Atkinson’s input into preparations for the June 23 draft. According to Boone, Borrego’s former assistants are working behind the scenes and are waiting to see if they will be part of the new coach’s staff.
There’s more from Charlotte:
- The Hornets welcomed six players today for a pre-draft workout, according to a tweet from the team. On hand were Tennessee’s Kennedy Chandler, Miami’s Kameron McGusty, Providence’s Justin Minaya, Memphis’ Josh Minott, Marquette’s Darryl Morsell and Arkansas’ JD Notae. On Friday, Charlotte hosted St. Bonaventure’s Jalen Adaway, Milwaukee’s Patrick Baldwin Jr., Michigan’s Moussa Diabate, Villanova’s Collin Gillespie, Texas A&M’s Quenton Jackson and Creighton’s Alex O’Connell (Twitter link).
- Duke’s Trevor Keels talked to Boone about the pre-draft process following a workout with the Hornets on Wednesday. Keels is enjoying the chance to meet with interested teams and compete with players he’s never faced before, but he said the experience can be a grind. “I think guys think the pre-draft process is easy,” he said. “You are working every day, keeping your body right. There is only 58 picks and there are hundreds of guys trying to hear their name called and get an opportunity. So you’ve got to work every day.”
- The Hornets would get $215MM in upgrades to the Spectrum Center along with a new $60MM practice facility in a proposal being considered by the city of Charlotte, per Genna Contino of The Charlotte Observer. The deal would require the team to extend its lease with the city an additional 15 years through 2045.