The Charlotte Hornets are in the market for a head coach after firing James Borrego last month. The Hornets suffered a 132-103 loss against the Atlanta Hawks in the play-in tournament, with superstar LaMelo Ball unable to get into a rhythm.
Charlotte is going through a six-season playoff drought, with four seasons under Borrego. The team’s majority stake owner – Michael Jordan – led winning teams during his legendary career, and the current situation in Charlotte is unacceptable to him.
The Athletic's Jake Fischer reported Mike D’Antoni is likely to be considered to fill the position:
“D’Antoni is expected to receive consideration for the Hornets’ opening. (Charlotte genereal manager Mitch) Kupchak hired him in 2012 to helm Los Angeles, and Charlotte is said to value previous head coaching experience in its search, similar to the process in Sacramento.
“D’Antoni’s uncanny ability to maximize playmaking point guards would seem to form a natural marriage with the Hornets’ future, featuring a second-year All-Star Ball.”
D’Antoni has a lengthy coaching resume, leading the Denver Nuggets, Phoenix Suns, New York Knicks, LA Lakers and Houston Rockets. He was an assistant coach with the Brooklyn Nets last season and a coaching advisor with the New Orleans Pelicans this season.
He is an offensive-minded coach who strives with efficient playmakers – making him a good fit to coach a team with Ball at the helm.
One of D'Antoni's best seasons was in 2004-05, when he coached the Phoenix Suns to a 62-20 record, winning the Coach of the Year award. He received the honor again in his first season with the Houston Rockets (2016-17), cementing his name among the league's elite coaches.
The Charlotte Hornets’ efforts to get out of mediocrity
The Charlotte Hornets have shown sparks of brilliance over the past few years, but they've fallen short of a playoff spot for six consecutive seasons. The franchise has not won a playoff series (in three tries) since being rekindled in Charlotte in 2004-05.
Charlotte picked LaMelo Ball in the 2020 draft, giving the franchise renewed hope and a trajectory for upcoming seasons.
However, with talented players drawing interest from multiple championship contending teams, the Hornets could look to expedite the process. Their coaching search is likely to be with the objective of maximizing LaMelo Ball’s skill and creativity – by bringing in an offensive-minded coach.
The Hornets have finished 10th in the last two seasons, despite players like Terry Rozier and Miles Bridges improving their game. Landing Mike D’Antoni can be fruitful in two ways. One is his offensive mindset that can help build strategies for the unit. Two is an opportunity to play under an experienced coach.