Here’s how you know things are getting serious between the Charlotte Hornets and potential coach Kenny Atkinson: Michael Jordan will be in the room for the next interview.
Atkinson has jumped to the front of the line and will have a third interview with the Hornets, and this time Jordan will take part, reports Shams Charania and Sam Amick of The Athletic.
Golden State Warriors assistant Kenny Atkinson has emerged as a front-runner for the Charlotte Hornets’ head-coaching job, sources tell The Athletic, and will meet next week with team officials — including owner Michael Jordan — in the next step of his candidacy. It will mark the third meeting between the Hornets and Atkinson, and the first involving Jordan, sources said.
Atkinson is still a little busy with his day job, coaching the Warriors in the NBA Finals as part of Steve Kerr’s staff, but he could make a detour to Charlotte for an interview (or the principles could come to Boston and meet him). This report says Mike D’Antoni and Terry Stotts are still in the mix should things not work out the Hornets’ first choice.
Atkinson was one of the finalists for the Lakers head coaching job, which went to Darvin Ham. He was previously the head coach of the Brooklyn Nets, where his player development of guys like Jarrett Allen, Spencer Dinwiddie, Caris LeVert and others helped turn the Nets into a team that Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving wanted to join.
Atkinson working with LaMelo Ball, Miles Bridges, and P.J. Washington has the potential to help the Hornets jump from a play-in team to one that can make a real playoff run. Charlotte has the hard part of building an elite team with Ball as a cornerstone star, but developing and filling out the rest of the roster to take the next step with him will require a coach and front office on the same page.