It didn’t take new Hornets general manager Mitch Kupchak very long to move on from head coach Steve Clifford, ousting him from the job only a few days into his official tenure running the team. Clifford had been on the sidelines for five seasons, tying him with Allen Bristow for the longest tenure in franchise history.
But it will be back to the drawing board for this team, and there should be a decent field of candidates...
Every team with an opening has an eye on Fizdale, the deposed coach of the Grizzlies, so the Hornets figure to have ample competition. He is considered the ideal guy for a young team in need of development, but the Hornets are more of a team that needs to kick its veterans back into gear.
Silas has been in Charlotte as an assistant for eight years, arriving when his father took over one of the worst teams in league history. He has earned a reputation for his attention to detail and his ability to connect with players.
He is only 45, but he has been kicking around the NBA as a coach and scout for 18 years, and he figures at least to be a candidate here.
Ham has created a nice post-playing career for himself as a top assistant coach, and if you ask around, his name comes up often among front-office types as an assistant who’d make a good head coach. He has some connection to Kupchak, having coached with the Lakers from 2011-13.
One of Michael Jordan’s big mistakes when he was running things in Washington was the trade of Rip Hamilton for Stackhouse, who had one good season, got hurt, then was traded again while Hamilton went on to three All-Star teams. So maybe he wouldn’t want to revisit a Stackhouse reunion.
But Stackhouse has established himself as a coaching name in his two years with the Raptors’ G-League team, and his North Carolina roots earn him some credit.
Blatt is eager to get back into the NBA, and his year-and-a-half with the Cavaliers — 83-40, 14-6 in the playoffs and a trip to the NBA Finals — shows he is worthy of another chance. He’s a very good Xs and Os coach, and if the Hornets believe their problems can be resolved with a new scheme and not a complete rebuild, Blatt makes sense.
Most NBA execs expect that Williams will be back on an NBA bench by the start of next season after spending time in the Spurs’ front office. He led New Orleans to two playoff appearances under some tough circumstances, and went on to coach with the Thunder before leaving the team following the tragic death of his wife in 2016.
Given that the Hornets will have to go backward before they can rebuild, this might not be the ideal situation for him.
The two seasons in Orlando didn’t go as planned, and Vogel needs to get back into a job quickly or run the risk of falling off the coaching carousel altogether. He has credentials as a defense-and-toughness guy, having led the Pacers to two conference finals, and that fits with the Charlotte roster.
Another UNC guy who has expressed some interest in moving from the television set to the sidelines. Smith has a good gig with TNT, and he would need the right job to be lured away from TV. He was a candidate for the job in Houston — where he spent the bulk of his NBA career — in 2016, and going back to Carolina might have some appeal for him.
Shaw was, of course, a role player and an assistant coach with Kupchak’s Lakers, and this could be a job that makes sense for him.
But Shaw’s time with the Lakers didn’t end well — he was thought to be the heir apparent to Phil Jackson in 2011, but the Lakers instead hired Mike Brown. That was more Jim Buss’ doing than Kupchak’s, but it could still make for an awkward fit.
Perhaps Kupchak goes back to Brown, whose tenure with his Lakers was cut short just five games into his second season. Brown has done some resuscitating of his head-coaching credentials as a top assistant with the Warriors, a job that has produced Alvin Gentry and Luke Walton as head coaches.