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Hornets 'Leaning' Toward Candidates with Head Coaching Experience

A decision isn't expected to be made within the next week.

Charlotte Hornets GM Mitch Kupchak has casted a wide net of candidates to consider for the team's head coaching vacancy over the last month and it appears he is getting closer to making a decision. 

Obviously with the 2022 NBA Draft set to take place toward the end of next month, the goal is to have a coach already in place so that he, too, can be a part of the process.

"Right now, we're pretty far into the process. We've probably interviewed close to eight to ten candidates and most of them have been in-person," Kupchak said on Thursday. "There has been maybe one Zoom interview, but most of them have been in-person and because of the playoffs, sometimes Buzz and I have to fly to other cities or where we've had to wait until there's a lull in the playoffs. It's dragged out a little bit, but we're pretty close to narrowing the group. I can't give a timeline, certainly you'd like to have a coach in place by the draft. I would hope that it would be much sooner. I can't imagine it would be within the next week or so, but somewhere around two weeks - and certainly, hopefully before the draft."

Mike D'Antoni, Sean Sweeney, Darvin Ham, Terry Stotts, Kenny Atkinson, David Vanterpool, and Charles Lee have all interviewed with then Hornets thus far. D'Antoni, Ham, and Atkinson have interviewed twice. 

This is a healthy mixture of veteran head coaches and assistants who are looking to land their first head coaching gig. Considering how the pool of candidates is nearly split down the middle in terms of prior experience, I asked Kupchak if being an established head coach holds more weight in this search or not. 

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"It's a factor. I'm not going to say we're going to select a head coach with experience, but I think you'd probably lean that way, right? If you're looking to make that next step and you don't want to waste a year or two, then you say, hey, it might be a good idea to go with somebody that's proven. I can say that, I don't know if it's 60/40, 55/45, whatever, we would be leaning that way. But we've seen this year with a couple of assistants in Boston and New Orleans that hey, you can get a young assistant that can make a difference. We are considering and are interviewing assistant coaches as well."

From everything I've heard in addition to Kupchak's response, it seems as if Mike D'Antoni and Kenny Atkinson are the two leading the race. I'm not sure if bringing in D'Antoni, a coach with a similar philosophy to that of James Borrego makes sense, but it would fit what this group already does well. D'Antoni has been a head coach in the Association for quite some time and has had a large amount of success, mainly during his days with the Phoenix Suns. 

The one assistant to keep an eye out for is Darvin Ham. If they were to go with a first-time head coach, he is likely to be that guy. 

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