NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The New Orleans Hornets conducted the first two interviews of their coaching search Tuesday, meeting with former Dallas coach Avery Johnson and current Mavericks assistant Dwane Casey.
General manager Jeff Bower and team president Hugh Weber traveled to Texas along with owner Gary Chouest to meet with Johnson and Casey, club spokesman Harold Kaufman confirmed.
Johnson, who interviewed with Philadelphia on Monday, coached the Mavs for three-plus seasons ending in 2008 after a first-round playoff loss to the Hornets. Johnson guided Dallas to an NBA finals appearance in 2006 and a club-record 67 regular-season wins the following season.
A native of New Orleans who played college ball at Southern in Baton Rouge, Johnson had a 16-year NBA playing career before getting into coaching.
Casey was the Minnesota Timberwolves' head coach from June 2005 to January 2007. He was both a player and assistant for Kentucky and he also has a dozen years of experience as an NBA assistant dating to 1994 when he joined Seattle's coaching staff.
Kaufman said the Hornets expect to conduct more interviews but added that he could not say when or with whom at this time.
The Hornets are reportedly interested in speaking with several former NBA head coaches as well as current assistants. That list now includes former head coaches Mike Fratello, Doug Collins and Jeff Van Gundy, as well as Boston assistant Tom Thibodeau, Portland assistant Monty Williams, San Antonio assistant Mike Budenholzer and Utah assistant Ty Corbin.
The new coach will take over a club that went 37-45 and missed the playoffs last season. However, the club does have a pair of stars in Chris Paul and David West, as well as emerging young players in Darren Collison and Marcus Thornton.
Meanwhile, Chouest's purchase of the club from George Shinn is expected to provide a much-needed infusion of spending power to the front office as the coaching search continues and free agency approaches.