Mavs assistant Casey rumored for openings

Is a third suitor emerging to hire away Dallas Mavericks assistant coach Dwane Casey?

Already widely mentioned as a top candidate for the coaching openings with the Los Angeles Clippers and Philadelphia 76ers, Casey is also a potential target for the New Orleans Hornets, who announced Tuesday that Jeff Bower is reverting to his GM-only duties and heading the search for a new coach.

Ex-Mavericks coach Avery Johnson, meanwhile, is regarded as one of the favorites to land the Hornets’ job. In his second season as an ESPN analyst, Johnson still has one year remaining on his Mavs contract, worth $4 million next season.

From ESPN.com’s news story on the Bower move:

ESPN.com reported April 9 that the Hornets, with Chouest in a much stronger financial position than Shinn, plans to court top-tier coaching candidates, such as ESPN analysts Johnson and Jeff Van Gundy.

Johnson is a New Orleans native whose interest in coaching the Hornets has been anticipated for some time. Van Gundy's willingness to leave television for a return to coaching is not clear, but he and Bower are longtime friends.

It's believed that the Hornets will also look at top assistant coaches such as Dallas' Dwane Casey, Boston's Tom Thibodeau and Portland's Monty Williams. Casey has already emerged as a leading candidate for the Los Angeles Clippers' opening and is likewise expected to draw interest from the Philadelphia 76ers, who interviewed Casey last year before hiring Eddie Jordan. The Clippers, Sixers, Hornets and New Jersey Nets have the league's only four coaching openings at present.