Hornets mailbag: What’s up with the coaching search? Will any games be broadcast over air?

Nearly a month into the offseason, nothing has really changed for the Charlotte Hornets.

They still need a coach and don’t know yet where they’ll be picking in next month’s NBA Draft, though that’s going to be settled soon. As usual, there are plenty of questions surrounding the franchise.

In the latest mailbag, we answer reader queries about the coaching search, vision of co-owners Rick Schnall and Gabe Plotkin, LaMelo Ball possibly wearing ankle braces next season, Bally Sports Southeast and more.

Rick Schnall and Gabe Plotkin

Darian asks on X, formerly known as Twitter: Are there any rumblings about the Hornets approach going into next season? Going for the playoffs or just trying to get better and do further internal evaluations?

They really don’t have a choice. With the NBA’s longest postseason drought at eight years and counting, paired with the arena renovations being championed by the organization, the Hornets have to go for it. They don’t have the luxury of trying to sit back and methodically build this thing.

While they have to be strategic in their attempt to push toward a sustained winning direction, attempting to speed up the process could have damaging ramifications and won’t do anything to help their bottom line anytime soon. There has to be a balance and they have to light their fire as soon as possible — again, with theproper perspective. That’s the direction they appear to be headed this summer.

Akin to the trade deadline when they were open for business for once, it doesn’t have the feel of status quo.

Hornets coach search

Malaysia Batton asks on X: When are the Hornets going to hire their next new head coach? Is it next week? Is it the week after that? Before the draft lottery? Like when?

Ha, that’s like asking, ‘What are this week’s Powerball numbers? And while you’re at it, go ahead and give me the Mega Millions ones, too.’ More than a few executives around the league thought this process would have been wrapped up by now. But Hornets vice president of basketball operations Jeff Peterson is staying true to his word, and the Hornets are conducting a very methodical search.

Externally, it was widely assumed by many that the Hornets would have a coach in place by Sunday’s NBA Draft lottery in Chicago. Of course, not many had JJ Redick getting interviewed, either. Although the chatter still pegs Boston assistant Charles Lee as the guy, there’s no specific known timetable for the Hornets to name Steve Clifford’s successor.

Soon, though, curiosity seekers are going to set up cameras for a constant live shot of Spectrum Center to see when white smoke billows out of the top of the building. It’s understandable for people to be anxious and eager for the Hornets to check off the first major item on the team’s offseason checklist.

But they have to get this hire right and as much it might bother those on the outside, there’s no reason to rush into anything just so they’ll have someone in position by a certain date. But let’s be honest: the sooner the better. Because not only would it give the new coach time to build up his staff, it’s not fair to those in limbo ie: leftover assistant coaches and other personnel since it lessens their ability to latch on someplace else quickly.

Bally Sports Southeast

Mark Barger asks on X: What’s the Hornets’ telecast situation for next season? Still locked into Bally/Diamond Sports or could local broadcast stations re-enter the picture as they have for some other major league franchises?

That’s a great question and there’s not a definitive answer at this point because it’s unclear how Diamond Sports roping Amazon in as a minority investor is going to pan out. At last check, those things were still being sorted, but there’s rumblings there may be a deal with Amazon Prime video could spur a launch in October.

You’d have to think it’s extremely wise for the Hornets to, at worst, follow a similar path of the Dallas Mavericks. Like the Hornets, Dallas’ games were mostly broadcast on Bally Sports this past season, but that changed during the last few months when the Mavericks began airing some of the games via the local ABC affiliate.

Same goes for the Phoenix Suns. A huge chunk of their games were shown in the local Phoenix marketover-the-air, taking it back almost to the old days of the 1980s early ‘90s before teams began selling their broadcast rights to cable entities, making it harder for households without premium television service to view action in the comfort of their own home.

It’s a big boy business and TV is king, as evidenced by the reported $2.5 billion per year NBC is offering to become a broadcast partner of the NBA again. That said, the Hornets should do right by the customer in this instance and give them a few games over-the-air — when all you need is a TV and digital antenna — as a good faith gesture for enduring the hard times.

Rebuilding Hornets’ brand

Samuel Fleming asks on X: If you’re part of the new ownership group, how do you go about rebuilding the Hornets’ brand throughout the state of North Carolina in addition to winning?

From this vantage point one of the ways is aforementioned. Start by allowing some of the fans who have been clamoring for a resolution to the issues associated with watching Hornet games on television. The Hornets’ TV play-by-play/analyst tandem of Eric Collins and Dell Curry is one of the best in the NBA.

And giving fans in other parts of the state a chance to watch — maybe one game per week or month over-the-air would go a long way in bringing some goodwill. It would provide a service for fans who may not otherwise have chance to watch the Hornets.

If it brings in a few hundred additions to the base, it’s all worth it. Hey, you have to start somewhere, right? That, along with continuing to listen fans, is the first step to righting the ship.

NBA Draft

@KellRichar on X asks: Should the Hornets go for need or best player available in the draft?

Drafting with only positional need in mind can be dangerous. And it certainly will be in this draft, given how weak most pundits believe the draft class is. The Hornets, no matter where they’re picking, need to pluck the top player off the draft board regardless of where that player lines up on the court.

They don’t have the luxury of being picky and trying to reach to fill a roster void with youthful inexperience. It’s going to be a while before they can even consider that mentality.

So, all together now: best player available. There should be no debate.

LaMelo Ball

Ben asks on X: Is there frustration with LaMelo being so petty about ankle braces? If you’re making millions, why not just wear the brace?

Not so much frustration about wearing the braces, but just an overall sense of disappointment the ankle injuries keep cropping up. Others who The Observer has spoken to about ankle braces in general have voiced displeasure about the feeling and restrictions of the footwear as well. So, it’s not just LaMelo.

Discomfort is one of the major drawbacks and it’s going to be on LaMelo and the Hornets’ collection of physicians and performance staff to find the right custom fit if everyone deems that’s the most effective method to protect the 22-year-old’s ankles. There has to be a solid understanding from both sides to do whatever is possible to ensure Ball reaches his goal of playing 75-plus games in 2024-25.

The alternative — another season filled with him in street clothes — won’t cut it.