Mike D'Antoni

Darvin Ham “Serious Candidate” For Hornets’ Coaching Job; Terry Stotts To Interview

Bucks assistant Darvin Ham will get a second interview with the Hornets for their head coaching vacancy and has become a serious candidate for the position, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Former Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts will also interview this week, sources tell Charania (Twitter link).

Ham, 48, has been an assistant in Milwaukee since 2018 and coached under Mike Budeholzer in Atlanta as well. He is a perennial candidate for open head coaching jobs and interviewed for the Kings’ position that ultimately went to Mike Brown.

Stotts, 64, spent 10 years in Portland before he and the organization reached a mutual agreement to part ways after the end of last season. He ranks second on the Blazers’ all-time wins list with 402.

A recent Substack report by Marc Stein indicates that Mike D’Antoni, currently serving as a coaching advisor with the Pelicans, is in “a strong position” to be Charlotte’s next head coach. Even though defensive lapses were one factor that led to James Borrego‘s dismissal, the front office is seeking a veteran head coach and is intrigued by what LaMelo Ball could do as the focal point of D’Antoni’s offense.

Stein notes that D’Antoni has a strong relationship with Hornets president of basketball operations Mitch Kupchak, who previously hired him with the Lakers. Steve Bulpett of Heavy.com also identified D’Antoni as the frontrunner for the job last week.

Charlotte has cast a wide net in its search for Borrego’s replacement, with former Lakers coach Frank Vogel the most recent big name to interview. The team has also reportedly talked to Kenny AtkinsonSean SweeneyCharles Lee, and David Vanterpool.

You can follow all the latest coaching rumors in our head coaching search tracker.

Bulpett’s Latest: D’Antoni, Hornets, Hayward, Kings, Irving

The Hornets‘ head coaching search is still in progress, but three league sources who spoke to Steve Bulpett of Heavy.com said they believe Mike D’Antoni is the frontrunner to land the job.

“I don’t think it’s a done deal or anything, but I know they like the idea of what he can do with LaMelo (Ball) and their running game,” a source told Bulpett. “If D’Antoni can get those guys on his wavelength, that’s going to be an even more fun team to watch.”

D’Antoni has coached a total of 1,199 regular season games for five different teams. If he were to be hired by the Hornets, he would be the second-oldest NBA head coach of all-time, behind only Gregg Popovich. D’Antoni turned 71 on Sunday.

Here’s more from Bulpett:

  • According to Bulpett, chatter around the NBA indicates that the Hornets would like to get off Gordon Hayward‘s contract, which has two years and $61.6MM left on it. “I know Gordon’s situation has been super frustrating,” one executive said to Heavy.com. “He’s such an important player when he’s healthy. He’s talented and he plays the right way. But him staying healthy is a big if.”
  • While Kyrie Irving faced plenty of criticism for his end-of-season comments about “managing the franchise” along with Kevin Durant, GM Sean Marks, and team owner Joe Tsai. However, a source close to the situation suggests Irving was merely stating a fact. “When Kyrie signed as a free agent, he basically said, ‘I’ll come and I’ll bring Kevin Durant,'” that source told Bulpett. “And in return, the Nets agreed that he could have a say in the roster decisions. … With Kyrie, they talked this out beforehand. He wanted a situation like LeBron (James) has — or like he thinks LeBron has.”
  • Bulpett has heard that Kings owner Vivek Ranadive, who has had an outsized voice in some basketball decisions in the past, chose to listen to his basketball operations executives in the head coaching search, which led to Sacramento hiring Mike Brown. In addition to general manager Monte McNair, assistant GM Wes Wilcox was involved in that coaching decision, Bulpett notes.

Hornets Rumors: Jordan, Kupchak, Head Coach Candidates

The decision to fire former Hornets head coach James Borrego apparently came from owner Michael Jordan, not president of basketball operations Mitch Kupchak, according to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report. This contradicts a report last month that Kupchak was the driving force behind the move.

Sources tell Fischer that Jordan was unhappy with Charlotte’s poor defense, which fell from 16th in 2020/21 to 22nd this season. The Hornets also gave up 144 points to Indiana in last season’s play-in tournament and then 132 to Atlanta this season, both blowout losses.

The Hornets are in the early stages of their search to fill the coaching vacancy, Fischer writes. Kupchak has been mulling over candidates and is acting as though he’ll remain in charge of the team’s basketball operations even though his contract expires after the season, sources tell Fischer.

The team has discussed finding someone to eventually succeed Kupchak for years, but the Hornets want him to remain in place for at least the short term, assuming the two sides can work out their difference of opinion regarding salary, which sounds like a formality.

Prior to Adrian Wojnarowski’s report that the Hornets will interview Mike D’Antoni, Kenny Atkinson, Darvin Ham and Sean Sweeney for their head coaching job, Fischer explored some possible candidates, including D’Antoni and Atkinson.

Like the Kings, the Hornets are also searching for someone with previous head coaching experience. League sources tell Fischer that former Rockets head coach D’Antoni, Warriors assistants Mike Brown and Atkinson, and Vanderbilt head coach Jerry Stackhouse are potential candidates for the opening. Brown holds previous head coaching experience with the Cavaliers and Lakers and is a finalist for Sacramento’s job, while Atkinson was Brooklyn’s lead coach from 2016-20.

Fischer notes that D’Antoni has frequently been linked to the Sixers since Daryl Morey became president of basketball operations, but the team has consistently maintained that head coach Doc Rivers and the front office are aligned on their shared vision of the future. Rivers still is still owed an additional $24MM over three years following this season, so even if Morey did want to fire him, that would be a bitter pill for Philadelphia’s ownership to swallow, Fischer observes.

Echoing a report from Marc Stein, Fischer says one more name to keep an eye on for the Hornets is Jazz coach Quin Snyder, who still has one year remaining on his contract with Utah. Synder previously worked under Kupchak’s front office as a Lakers assistant and has ties to North Carolina — he played for Duke in college and was an assistant coach there prior to becoming Missouri’s head coach.

Snyder has repeatedly been linked to the Lakers‘ opening, but several sources tell Fischer that L.A. doesn’t appeal to Utah’s head coach.

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.

Stein’s Latest: Kings, M. Jackson, Russell, Brunson, Hornets

Mike D’Antoni‘s inability to advance to the second round of head coaching interviews with the Kings suggests that the team is making it a priority to upgrade its defense, according to Marc Stein, who observes in his latest Substack article that Sacramento ranked 27th in defensive efficiency this season after placing 30th in 2020/21.

According to Stein, former Golden State coach and current ABC/ESPN broadcaster Mark Jacksonreportedly one of three finalists along with Steve Clifford and Mike Brown – impressed Kings owner Vivek Ranadive, and appears to have a legitimate shot of returning to an NBA bench. All three of Sacramento’s finalists are known for their “fondness for defense,” says Stein.

If Jackson isn’t hired by the Kings, he’s expected to be a candidate for the Lakers‘ job, though he may not be high on their wish list, Stein writes, adding that L.A. is expected to take its time with its head coaching search and likely won’t move as quickly as Sacramento’s has.

Here’s more from Stein:

  • A number of rival teams expect the Timberwolves to attempt to trade guard D’Angelo Russell this offseason, according to Stein. Russell, who is good friends with Karl-Anthony Towns, will be on an expiring $31.4MM contract in 2022/23 after struggling in Minnesota’s playoff series vs. Memphis.
  • Mavericks team officials are expressing plenty of confidence behind the scenes that the team will be able to work out a new deal with free agent point guard Jalen Brunson this summer, says Stein. New York, Detroit, and Indiana have frequently been cited as potential suitors for Brunson.
  • If Quin Snyder decides to leave the Jazz this spring, the Hornets would have interest in him for their head coaching position, league sources tell Stein. Charlotte is in the market for a replacement for James Borrego.

Jackson, Brown, Clifford Are Finalists For Kings’ Coaching Job

5:36pm: Jackson, Brown and Clifford are the three finalists for the job and will all have in-person meetings with the Kings’ front office, tweets James Ham of ESPN 1320.

The other four candidates — Mike D’AntoniCeltics assistant Will Hardy and Bucks assistants Darvin Ham and Charles Lee — are no longer under consideration.


4:19pm: ABC/ESPN announcer Mark Jackson is a finalist to become the next head coach of the Kings, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic, who adds that general manager Monte McNair has started notifying the candidates who will receive in-person interviews.

Warriors assistant Mike Brown and Nets consultant Steve Clifford are finalists as well, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

Jackson, who is among the candidates that LeBron James reportedly wants the Lakers to consider, hasn’t coached since the 2013/14 season and is currently employed as an ABC/ESPN broadcaster. He compiled a 121-109 record in three seasons with the Warriors and reached the playoffs twice.

Brown has been an assistant on Steve Kerr‘s staff since the 2016/17 season. He has a 347-216 record as a head coach with the Cavaliers and Lakers and was named Coach of the Year in 2009.

Clifford spent three years as head coach of the Magic before he and the team decided to part ways last summer. He also served five seasons as head coach in Charlotte and has a career record of 292-345.

Kings To Interview Mike D’Antoni, Mark Jackson, Others

The Kings will interview former NBA head coaches Mike D’Antoni and Mark Jackson for their open head coaching position, sources tell Shams Charania and Sam Amick of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Sacramento has also received permission to interview former coaches Mike Brown and Steve Clifford, as well as Celtics assistant Will Hardy and Bucks assistants Darvin Ham and Charles Lee, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link).

Of the former head coaches, D’Antoni currently serves as an advisor to Pelicans head coach Willie Green, Jackson is an ABC/ESPN broadcaster, Brown is an assistant with the Warriors, and Clifford is a consultant for the Nets.

The Kings have done their homework on a wide range of candidates and narrowed their list down to a smaller group, according to Charania and Amick, though the above list of candidates isn’t necessarily complete, tweets Sean Cunningham of ABC10 in Sacramento.

The Kings will begin conducting virtual interviews with candidates next week, according to James Ham of ESPN 1320, who tweets that in-person meetings will take place after that first round of Zoom interviews.

Sacramento is in the market for a new head coach after firing Luke Walton near the start of the 2021/22 season and then opting not to retain his interim replacement, Alvin Gentry, last week.

When word first broke that the Kings weren’t bringing back Gentry, Wojnarowski said they would consider candidates who have previously turned lottery teams into playoff clubs. D’Antoni (Phoenix), Jackson (Golden State), Brown (Cleveland), and Clifford (Charlotte and Orlando) all technically fit that bill.

Ham, Lee, and Hardy don’t have head coaching experience, but have all interviewed for head coaching positions in recent years. Ham and Lee reportedly received consideration from multiple teams in 2021, while Hardy was in the mix for multiple jobs in 2020.

D’Antoni, Stotts Among Kings’ Coaching Targets?

There appears to be a growing expectation that the Kings won’t name Alvin Gentry as their full-time head coach, Marc Stein reports at Substack. Gentry was named interim head coach when the franchise fired Luke Walton back in November.

Sacramento is believed to be seeking a veteran coach, according to Stein, who says that Terry Stotts, Mike D’Antoni, Mike Brown and Steve Clifford have been mentioned in league coaching circles as potential targets. Stotts and D’Antoni are coaching free agents, while Brown (Warriors assistant) and Clifford (Nets coaching consultant) currently work for teams.

The Kings will miss the playoffs for the 16th straight time this season, the longest streak in NBA history. The team has seen seven head coaches in the last decade: Keith Smart, Michael Malone, Tyrone Corbin, George Karl, Dave Joerger, Walton and Gentry.

Stotts, D’Antoni, Brown and Clifford all hold experience as former head coaches. Stein notes that D’Antoni has a strong relationship with Kings general manager Monte McNair, as both were together in Houston from 2016-20. Stotts is also expected to receive interest on the coaching market this summer.

Stein’s Latest: Rivers, Dragic, Harris, R. Lopez, Dinwiddie, Bertans

The Sixers have confidence in coach Doc Rivers to lead the team to a title now that James Harden has been paired up with Joel Embiid, a source tells Marc Stein (Substack link). Philadelphia hasn’t won an NBA championship in 39 years and Rivers has a recent history of playoff disappointments, but team officials believe he can oversee the new partnership.

Shortly after the trade with the Nets was completed, Stein heard rumors that the Sixers might be considering Mike D’Antoni, who coached Harden for four years in Houston. D’Antoni is currently serving as a coaching advisor to the Pelicans after spending last season with Harden as an assistant in Brooklyn.

However, Stein’s source insists that Rivers’ job is safe, saying he gained admiration from ownership and the front office with the way he guided the team through the distractions caused by Ben Simmons‘ absence.

Stein offers more inside information from around the league:

  • Goran Dragic met with the Nets on Friday as he considers his next team following a buyout with the Spurs. Coach Steve Nash served as a mentor when Dragic entered the NBA with the Suns and has been the team’s lead recruiter for the free agent guard. Along with Brooklyn, Stein cites the Bucks, Bulls, Warriors and Clippers as the top suitors for Dragic. He’s been “really open-minded” to the offers from each team, a source tells Stein.
  • Magic veterans Gary Harris and Robin Lopez haven’t pushed for buyouts so far, according to Stein’s sources, who add that Harris may want to stay in Orlando in hopes of re-signing during the offseason. There was talk that Lopez might join his brother in Milwaukee after a buyout, Stein states, but the recent additions of Greg Monroe and Serge Ibaka may have quelled the Bucks‘ interest (though Monroe’s most recent 10-day contract has expired). Golden State may need another center for the playoffs, and Stein sees Lopez as a potential “home run” for the Warriors if he becomes available.
  • Small guarantees for Spencer Dinwiddie and Davis Bertans in the final year of their contracts motivated the Mavericks to acquire them in last week’s trade for Kristaps Porzingis. Dinwiddie has just a $10MM guarantee on his $18.9MM salary for 2023/24, while Bertans carries a $5MM guarantee on his $16MM salary for 2024/25. Dallas is hoping those limited guarantees will make both contracts easier to trade.

Western Notes: Ariza, Nunn, Nuggets, D’Antoni

Lakers forward Trevor Ariza participated in a live action scrimmage for the first time since ankle surgery, ESPN’s Dave McMenamin tweets. Coach Frank Vogel indicated Ariza is not experiencing pain but is still strengthening the ankle, so there’s no timetable for his return. Ariza signed a veteran’s minimum contract during the offseason and was expected to be a prominent contributor but he has yet to make his season debut.

We have more from the Western Conference:

  • Lakers backup guard Kendrick Nunn (right knee bone bruise) isn’t expected to make his season debut this month, McMenamin adds in another tweet. Nunn signed a two-year free-agent deal in August. He averaged 14.6 points, 2.6 assists and 29.5 minutes in 56 games with the Heat last season.
  • The addition of Davon Reed under the hardship exception pushed the Nuggets a little bit closer to the luxury tax line, John Hollinger of The Athletic notes. Reed’s contract adds another $100K to the cap, nudging them just $1.2MM below the tax line. That doesn’t include $1.7MM in unlikely incentives for Jeff Green, JaMychal Green and Will Barton. However, the tax concerns make it unlikely the franchise will utilize disabled player exceptions for Michael Porter Jr. and PJ Dozier.
  • Mike D’Antoni, currently an advisor to first-year Pelicans coach Willie Green, still has some interest in being a head coach, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle reports. D’Antoni, who lives in Texas, attended his first Pelicans game this season in Houston on Sunday. He was an assistant to the Nets’ Steve Nash last season.