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NBA Insider Mentions New Candidate For Charlotte Hornets Job

There has been a bevy of rumors since the Charlotte Hornets announced a few days ago that Steve Clifford would step down as head coach and move into the front office at the end of the season. However, earlier today, Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe threw out the most interesting name of all the candidates: South Carolina Women’s head coach Dawn Staley.

“Staley has won two national championships with a chance for a third Sunday afternoon in Cleveland,” Washburn wrote. “There’s no reason why the Hornets shouldn’t pursue Staley unless you consider her gender a detriment. It won’t be. The NBA is closing in on hiring its first female head coach.”

NBA Insider Mentions New Candidate For Charlotte Hornets Job

As a college coach, Staley has accomplished almost everything she can on the collegiate level. The 53-year-old has led South Carolina to two national titles and is on the verge of making history this year if the Gamecocks can claim their third crown on Sunday.

South Carolina (37-0) will face the Iowa Hawkeyes tomorrow afternoon in Cleveland to become the 10th undefeated champion in women’s college basketball history and the first since 2015-16. Heading into the NCAA title game, the Gamecocks have lost just three games over the last three seasons and nine in the past five.

In 16 seasons at South Carolina, Staley has won 80.6% of the games, leading the Gamecocks to eight SEC regular-season and conference crowns. In addition to the two national titles, Staley has made 12 NCAA tournament appearances and reached the Final Four six times. The three-time National Coach of the Year has a 611-186 record in 24 collegiate seasons.

But it is not just her collegiate success that makes Staley an intriguing NBA candidate, if she elects to pursue that route. Staley is not only a former pro, which gives her a lot of cache among NBA players, who made six WNBA all-star games, but she is also a Hall of Famer who was selected to the WNBA’s 10-year and 15-year anniversary teams.

Staley has also coached pros, albeit on the women’s side, with Team USA. As head coach, she led the Americans to four gold medals, including the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Former NBA player and current Detroit Pistons assistant Jerome Allen is a fan of Staley, telling Washburn that she deserves an NBA shot.

“Any team in the NBA with an opening should consider her for the position. Putting gender aside, she’s a coach. She’s a teacher. Her entire disposition is about service. She’s other people-centered. She’s an inspirer and she engulfs anything that an organization, pro or college, would want as a person leading a program.

“The hardest thing required of coaches, she already has. And that’s the ability to lead and inspire whether it would be young women or grown men, just people. It’s obviously playing out in real time in front of our eyes.”

What Are The Hornets Looking For In The Next Coach?

Charlotte has been one of the worst franchises in the NBA over the last twenty seasons. The Hornets have made three playoff appearances since re-joining the league in 2004-05, and their 43 victories in 2021-22 are their most over the past eight years. The Hornets are 19-58 this season, eight fewer than a season ago, tying San Antonio for the third-worst record in the Association.

So, what are the Hornets looking for in their next coach?

“A lively energy to come in with a level of excitement to teach these guys,” executive vice president Jeff Peterson said earlier this past week. “As Cliff was saying, it’s a different generation, so the ability to teach them and help them retain information is important. (Also) player development. We are still relatively in this youthful phase and at the same time I feel like everyone can be better. I don’t care how old you are or how many years of service you have in this league, you can always find a way to be better.”

Charlotte has been permitted to talk to four NBA assistants: Charles Lee (Boston Celtics), Jordi Fernandez (Sacramento Kings), Kevin Young (Phoenix Suns), and David Adelman (Denver Nuggets).

Will the Hornets look to other names on the interview list? Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports believes that Miami Heat assistant Chris Quinn and Utah Jazz assistant Lamar Skeeter will also receive consideration. Dallas assistant Sean Sweeney and Brooklyn assistant Will Weaver also have been mentioned as possible candidates.

Why Not Dawn Staley?

Maybe she will throw her hat into the proverbial ring.

“I think sometimes people want to say I want to be this or I want to be that, I want to be great, I want to be successful,” Staley said. “And you sometimes skip some steps with how you deal with people and how you deal with success. I’ve been humbled from the first time that I touched the basketball, and I do feel like I have the same desire and the same purity for the game, the same innocence of playing the game and treating the game the right way, that it plays out like unimaginable, like something that’s unimaginable.

“Yes, we can say we want to win national championships, and you want to coach the best players. That’s a saying, but the work that you put in to coaching those players, to winning those national championships, it’s really what it’s truly about, because there are a lot of experiences and memories that you create and that you try to re-create.”

Other Women Coaching In NBA

There have been 15 women assistant coaches in the n NBA, including five currently working in the league. Nancy Lieberman and Becky Hammon were previously considered for full-time coaching gigs, but none came to fruition. Lieberman was the first woman to coach a professional men’s basketball team, the NBA D-League’s Texas Legends (2010–2011).

Besides Lieberman, Hammon was considered a strong candidate for an NBA job. Hammon, who interviewed for the Portland Trail Blazers HC job in 2021 — the job ultimately went to Chauncey Billups — is the only woman to lead an NBA team during the summer league.

Hammon also served as interim head coach for one game with the San Antonio Spurs while she was an assistant under Gregg Popovich. She is currently coaching the two-time reigning  WNBA champions Las Vegas Aces.

Washburn added that Boston was interested in interviewing Staley a few years ago, following Brad Stevens decision to move into his current role with the team, but she chose to stay at South Carolina. The Celtics eventually decided on Ime Udoka.




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