The Hornets workout search now includes an amazing name. And the interest is serious.

Mitch Kupchak has seen everything in the NBA for six decades.

Maybe that’s why it took Charlotte Hornets general manager about a nanosecond to recall another incident similar to the one he experienced last weekend when Kenny Atkinson refused to stay at Golden State for eight days after agreeing to his position with the Hornets. their coach.

“The first thing that comes to mind is that Steve Kerr had to go to New York with Phil Jackson,” Kupchak said Thursday night, “and he seems to have made a good decision, right?” He decided to take up the job at Golden State. So maybe Kenny talked to Steve, I do not know. Maybe he said, ‘Well, that’s going to work out for you, right?’ I do not know.”

Atkinson’s astonishing overthrow forced the Hornets to try to find a solution and they could turn to a familiar face. Steve Clifford is a serious candidate for the vacant position of coach, many NBA sources with direct knowledge told the Charlotte Observer.

According to league sources, Clifford met with owner Michael Jordan and Kupchak this week to discuss the location. Jordan did the same with Mike D’Antoni, who was considered Atkinson’s second.

But Clifford is in tune with the organization, setting a 196-214 record in his five seasons in Charlotte. He led the Hornets to two playoff appearances before leaving in 2018, when a mostly new front office led by Kupchak was hired.

Clifford was replaced by James Borego, who was sacked in April with two years left on his contract after failing to reach the playoffs in the four seasons since taking office. Clifford, 60, left the organization on good terms and that could work in his favor. He served as Orlando coach from 2018-21 and was with the Brooklyn Nets as a coaching advisor last season.

Atkinson’s retreat has led to recent discussions between the Hornets’s brass, led by Jordan.

“Our owner has been in the city since Tuesday,” Kupchak was quoted as saying. “It simply came to our notice then. And we’ve been spending a lot of time together since Tuesday, personally, looking at candidates who were being interviewed, maybe some new candidates, taking care to cover our bases.

“We did not rush this process. We never felt the need to rush it. We wanted to choose the right coach and we thought we did (at Atkinson). That said, we will have a good coach. We will have a good coach “.

Kupchak did not offer a timetable for a decision. The NBA off-season has already begun with the completion of the draft and the free Agency starts in less than a week.

It would be beneficial for the Hornets to have their new coach on board before it starts at 6pm on Thursday. In this way they can contribute to possible roster moves, offering suggestions on how the staff can integrate into their offensive and defensive plans.

With looming decisions about the future of free agents Miles Bridges and Cody Martin, among others, the current situation of the Hornets is far from ideal. But Kupchak stressed that they have an attack plan ready to be carried out soon.

“We know what we want to do with our free agents,” he said. “This is not going to change with a coach. That said, the free dealership starts in six days. Maybe in six days we have a coach. Maybe 10 days. So I would like to have a coach “.

One thing is for sure: Atkinson will not be at the end of their bench.

“Disappointed,” Kupchak said. “I’m disappointed and I still feel it would be a good choice. I have known Kenny for a long time. He is a guy from Long Island, where I come from. So there is the Long Island basketball mafia that really supported him. We are a little different in age, but I have known him for a long time. I think it would be a good choice, but if he does not feel comfortable, I would rather find out now than a year from now. “

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