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Report: Thibodeau a finalist for Hornets job

05.21.10 at 5:44 pm ET

According to a report by Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowksi, Celtics assistant Tom Thibodeau is a finalist for the head coaching vacancy with the New Orleans Hornets. Avery Johnson was thought to be the leading contender for the job, but he made noise about having control over personnel as well and New Orleans has reportedly no interest in that proposition.

Wojnarowski identifies Portland assistant Monty Williams as the other leading candidate, but leaves open the possibility of other assistants or former coaches such as Mike Fratello and Lawrence Frank emerging.

The Hornets job has obvious benefits; namely coaching Chris Paul, and for a defensive-minded coach like Thibodeau, the possibility of bringing out Emeka Okafor’s game. But it also has drawbacks.

The team is currently in the process of being sold from George Shinn to Gary Chouest and the Hornets have failed to make much of an impact the Crescent City since moving from Charlotte. Additionally, they are also backloaded with bad contracts for players like Morris Peterson, Peja Stojakovic and James Posey. They do have some talent in Paul, David West and young players like Darren Collison and Marcus Thornton.

Thibodeau has been in the running for head jobs in the past, but he may never be hotter than right now as his defense has knocked out Dwyane Wade and LeBron James and is halfway toward eliminating Dwight Howard. That’s three of the five players on the All-NBA team and his work has not gone unrecognized.

“He’€™s terrific,” Doc Rivers said during the Cleveland series. “He’€™s the best defensive coach, I think, in the league. I don’€™t know if there’€™s a better one and our guys buy into it. I think that’€™s very important. If they don’€™t buy into what you’€™re doing, it’€™s not going to work. We have a group of guys who are willing to buy in to what we want them to do to what Thibs wants them to do, and that’€™s why it works.”

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