As the Hornets resume their head coaching search following Kenny Atkinson‘s decision to back out of an agreement with the team, Marc Stein suggests in his latest Substack column that a surprising name may be on Charlotte’s radar.
According to Stein, there’s some “serious mounting buzz” that Steve Clifford, who coached the Hornets from 2013-18, has emerged as a candidate to replace James Borrego. Charlotte is reportedly in the market for a candidate with previous head coaching experience and is certainly familiar with Clifford. He took the club to the postseason in 2014 and 2016 — those are the Hornets’ only playoff appearances since 2010.
Mike D’Antoni, who was said to be meeting with Hornets owner Michael Jordan this week, was a finalist during the initial search appears to still be in contention for the job. There have been conflicting reports on whether Terry Stotts was also a finalist before the team reached a deal with Atkinson — Stein writes that D’Antoni was the “only other known finalist” at that point.
Here’s more from Stein:
- Confirming that the Pistons are expected to pursue Suns RFA center Deandre Ayton, Stein says Ayton would embrace the idea of teaming up with Cade Cunningham in Detroit. Stein adds that Miles Bridges and Collin Sexton are believed to be ahead of Jalen Brunson on the Pistons’ list of other potential free agent targets. Both Bridges and Sexton will be restricted free agents, while Brunson will be unrestricted.
- There’s an increasing belief in coaching circles that Jazz CEO Danny Ainge would like to hire an up-and-coming first-time head coach to replace Quin Snyder, according to Stein, who identifies Celtics assistant Will Hardy and Suns assistant Kevin Young as candidates who have impressed Utah so far.
- After writing on Wednesday that the Sixers would be the favorites to sign P.J. Tucker if the forward leaves the Heat, Stein says today that Philadelphia’s impending pursuit of Tucker has the “strong backing” of star center Joel Embiid.
- In addition to OG Anunoby, the Trail Blazers maintain interest in Thunder swingman Luguentz Dort, says Stein. Portland’s interest in Dort was previously reported. Portland’s No. 7 overall pick could be in play as the team seeks an upgrade on the wing.