Charlotte Hornets: Five Head Coaching Candidates

Oct 29, 2021; Miami, Florida, USA; A detailed view of the logos on the short of Charlotte Hornets guard LaMelo Ball (2) during the first half against the Miami Heat at FTX Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 29, 2021; Miami, Florida, USA; A detailed view of the logos on the short of Charlotte Hornets guard LaMelo Ball (2) during the first half against the Miami Heat at FTX Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports /

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported on Saturday afternoon that Golden State Warriors assistant coach Kenny Atkinson will no longer become the head coach of the Charlotte Hornets. The news comes at an inopportune time, as the NBA draft is just five days away. After an extensive coaching search in the aftermath of the firing of previous coach James Borrego, the Hornets are left to pick up the pieces and move forward with a new candidate. With that in mind, here are a few names that could be on the radar in the days to come.

Mike D’Antoni

Mike D’Antoni was a finalist for the job before the Hornets decided to hire Kenny Atkinson. While there is some question about whether he would accept the job after being the second option, D’Antoni should be intrigued at the possibility of working with a young point guard of LaMelo Ball’s caliber. While D’Antoni would represent a philosophical shift away from what Atkinson would have brought to the table, the intrigue that he could bring to Charlotte may be enough to entice Michael Jordan and Mitch Kupchak.

Terry Stotts 

Terry Stotts was another finalist in the initial coaching search and has a proven track record of success in the NBA. He was an assistant under Rick Carlisle with the Dallas Mavericks and won a championship with the team in 2011. He then guided the Portland Trail Blazers to eight consecutive playoff appearances, including a conference finals berth in 2019. Stotts currently ranks second on the Trail Blazers all-time coaching wins list behind only Jack Ramsay. Charlotte can also look to Stotts’ track record of success with guards; Damian Lillard was selected to six All-Star teams and six All-NBA teams under Stotts, while C.J. McCollum won the Most Improved Player award in 2016 and would have likely been named to the All-Star team in 2021 if not for an injury.

Quin Snyder

Quin Snyder represents more of a long-shot candidate, as it is expected that he will be taking the upcoming season to step away from coaching before entering the market again next year. However, the Hornets should absolutely initiate conversation with Snyder regardless of the perception surrounding his immediate intentions. Snyder’s resume includes six consecutive playoff berths while at the helm of the Utah Jazz, as he found success in a small market by emphasizing team defense. After taking over a team that had finished 29th in defensive rating in 2014, Snyder made the Jazz a top-ten defense in six of his eight seasons, including a league-best defensive rating in 2018. Snyder has connections to the region, as he played collegiately at Duke and later served as an assistant coach at Duke under Mike Krzyzewski. Snyder currently ranks second on the Jazz all-time coaching wins list behind only Jerry Sloan.

Mark Jackson

Mark Jackson is a bit of a wild card in this situation. While he has been out of coaching since 2014, he had a major part to play in building the foundation of the current Golden State Warriors. Jackson inherited a Warriors team that had made the playoffs only once in the previous 17 seasons and was able to guide them to consecutive playoff berths in 2013 and 2014.

According to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report, LaMelo Ball expressed his support for Mark Jackson during the preliminary stages of Charlotte’s initial coaching search.

The Hornets are certainly disgruntled with the way the Kenny Atkinson saga has unfolded, while Mark Jackson has had to watch his former team go on to win four championships in eight years after his departure. The two parties could decide to join forces to rectify the perceived wrongdoings committed against them by the Golden State Warriors.

Dawn Staley

Dawn Staley would certainly make for a noteworthy hire, as she would represent the NBA’s first ever female head coach in the 76-year history of the league. Staley’s coaching credentials speak volumes; she is a two-time NCAA national champion, an Olympic gold medalist, and a two-time recipient of the Naismith Coach of the Year award. Staley’s playing career is equally impressive, as she is a two-time recipient of the Naismith College Player of the Year award, a six-time WNBA All-Star, and is a member of both the Basketball Hall of Fame and the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame. Staley’s connections to the Charlotte area run deep, as she played for the Charlotte Sting from 1999-2005 and led the team to the championship round of the playoffs in 2001.