Dawn Staley

Hornets Notes: Miller, Clifford, Coaching Search, Staley

Brandon Miller vs. Scoot Henderson was the most debated topic heading into the draft last June, but their first on-court meeting didn’t happen until Wednesday, writes Shane Connuck of The Charlotte Observer. The Hornets opted for Miller with the No. 2 pick, even though Henderson was the more heralded prospect. Charlotte’s decision has paid off as Miller has been one of this season’s top rookies — averaging 17.3 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.4 assists in 70 games — while Henderson has taken longer to adjust to the NBA.

“Just to go against each other early in our careers — like, there’s gonna be even more fun in the long run,” Henderson said after the Trail Blazers pulled out a three-point victory at Charlotte. “(Miller) can shoot it really, really well. Off the dribble, catch and shoot. That really stuck out to me.”

Connuck notes that the Hornets hosted both players for individual workouts before making their final decision. They already have a dynamic lead guard in LaMelo Ball, even though he has missed most of the season due to injuries, and were intrigued by Miller’s size and shooting ability.

Miller was equally complimentary of Henderson after their first game.

“He can do a bit of everything, tonight he was knocking down threes,” Miller said. “A big physical guard who can get downhill and finish around the rim and create. I think it’s a good fit for him in Portland because he has pieces around him who can knock down shots. So you know he’s going to have a great career and I look forward to playing against him again.”

There’s more from Charlotte:

  • Miller achieved a shooting feat Friday night that only Stephen Curry has ever matched, per Alex Zietlow of The Charlotte Observer. Miller became just the second player to top 25 points by halftime without missing a shot from the field or the foul line while attempting at least five three-pointers. “You’ve been watching him all year,” coach Steve Clifford said. “He’s a very mature, very poised player. I mean, the things he does, you can’t teach. And it’s interesting watching him: All of the stuff that you want him to do as a team, he’s good at. But then all the things as a coach that you have no say over, he’s good at that too. We function well when he’s out there because the team stuff, he’s great at, and then he’s a talented guy. He’s a great competitor.”
  • Clifford’s decision to accept a front office role is the best move for him and the team, contends Roderick Boone of The Charlotte Observer. Boone points out that the Hornets faced an April 30 deadline to notify Clifford if they were planning to extend his contract. Resolving the issue early gives the organization a head start on hiring Clifford’s replacement.
  • At a press conference this week, executive vice president Jeff Peterson talked about the qualities he’s looking for in the team’s next head coach, Boone adds. “A lively energy to come in with a level of excitement to teach these guys,” Peterson said. “As Cliff was saying, it’s a different generation so the ability to teach them and help them retain information is important. (Also) player development. We are still relatively in this youthful phase and at the same time I feel like everyone can be better. I don’t care how old you are or how many years of service you have in this league, you can always find a way to be better.”  
  • Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe believes the Hornets should consider South Carolina’s Dawn Staley as the NBA’s first female head coach. He states that the Celtics were interested in interviewing Staley during the coaching search that led to the hiring of Ime Udoka.

Billups, Hammon Getting Second Interviews With Blazers

Clippers assistant Chauncey Billups and Spurs assistant Becky Hammon are among the candidates for the Trail Blazers‘ head coaching position who will interview with the team this week for a second time, sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Billups and Hammon first interviewed with the Blazers last week, along with Mike D’Antoni, who also remains in the mix for the Portland job, per Wojnarowski.

According to Shams Charania and Sam Amick of The Athletic, South Carolina coach Dawn Staley and Spurs VP of basketball operations Brent Barry are among the others who have interviewed for the vacancy. It’s unclear whether Staley, and/or Barry will receive second interviews.

Billups has frequently been cited as a frontrunner for the Blazers’ job, so it’s no surprise that he’s among the finalists. He also received an endorsement from point guard Damian Lillard following Terry Stotts‘ exit earlier this month.

The fact that Hammon remains in the running is notable — according to Charania and Amick, it’s the first time that a woman has remained under consideration in the final stages of an NBA head coaching search.

Jeff Van Gundy and Juwan Howard were among the other possible candidates who were mentioned early in the Blazers’ search process, but we haven’t heard anything about them lately. Still, president of basketball operations Neil Olshey stated that Portland’s search would be extensive, with 20-to-25 candidates receiving consideration, so there are likely many names that haven’t been reported yet — it’s possible some of them have advanced to the second stage of the club’s interview process.

Becky Hammon To Interview For Trail Blazers’ Head Coaching Job

Spurs assistant Becky Hammon is among the candidates who will be interviewed for the Trail Blazers‘ head coaching vacancy, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Sources tell Charania that other names on Portland’s list include Clippers assistant Chauncey Billups, Nets assistant Mike D’Antoni, Spurs vice president of basketball operations Brent Barry and South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley.

Either Hammon or Staley would make history by becoming the NBA’s first-ever female head coach. Hammon will also interview for the head coaching job with the Magic, Charania adds.

Hammon, 44, has been on Gregg Popovich’s staff in San Antonio since 2014. She became the first woman to serve as a head coach in the Summer League in 2015 and was the first female on an All-Star Game coaching staff in 2016.

Staley, 51, is a member of both the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame. She has coached the South Carolina women’s team since 2008 and has been coach of the USA national women’s team since 2017.

A report this week identified Billups and D’Antoni as candidates in Portland, with Billups considered to be the front-runner. He is also rumored to be in contention for the Celtics’ coaching vacancy.

After retiring from the NBA, Barry spent several years as a broadcaster before joining the Spurs in a front-office role in 2018. He has no previous coaching experience.