How serious is JJ Redick’s candidacy to be Hornets’ next coach? ‘Wouldn’t be surprised’

The teasing signaled this is indeed real.

When the third member of ESPN’s top NBA broadcast team got ribbed by his former Dallas teammate Luka Dončić and Mavericks assistant coach God Shammgod before Game 3 of the Western Conference quarterfinals between the Mavericks and LA Clippers, the moment sparked even more intrigue.

Charlotte Hornets?” Dončić said with a smile before Shammgod repeated the inquiry for effect. “Hornets?”

JJ Redick, subject of the barb from Dončić’s and Shammgod, could only smile. But it’s no laughing matter. The 15-year NBA veteran and all-time leading scorer at Duke is a serious candidate to be Steve Clifford’s successor as the Hornets head coach even though he has no prior coaching experience.

COLUMN: Charlotte deserves shot at the NBA playoff spotlight. It’s time the Hornets deliver.

Redick also recently launched a podcast with Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James centering around discussions about basketball and other things while enjoying fine wine, which is why a Hornets’ chat that seemed to peg Boston’s Charles Lee as the early frontrunner raises some eyebrows.

ESPN analyst JJ Redick, alongside NBA broadcasting colleague Doris Burke. / ESPN Images
ESPN analyst JJ Redick, alongside NBA broadcasting colleague Doris Burke. / ESPN Images

As far as experience, that nod obviously goes to Lee. He’s been a part of multiple staffs and is knowledgeable about the ins and outs of compiling a roster of coaches, and what it takes to foster tangible growth — a necessity for a franchise that’s constantly in the lottery and is constructed to build itself up from within.

That should technically give Lee the inside track and upper hand at the Hornets’ gig. And there’s a good chance he’d be a perfect fit organizationally given his familiarity with Hornets vice president of basketball operations Jeff Peterson.

But it’s hard to ignore the bubbling excitement from some Hornets’ fans sparked by Redick’s candidacy. He’d definitely be an outside-the-box hire and the Hornets would be chasing an unknown. But bringing Redick in as the new coach would inject life into the organization and the possible move is already being met with positive vibes.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if they hired him,” one league executive told The Observer. “I think JJ would do a great job. (He’s) really smart.”

Redick’s biggest question marks outside of his lack of experience revolves around his ability to motivate, develop talent and connect with the current generation of players like star guard LaMelo Ball. Still, it could very well be a risk worth taking.

Now an ESPN analyst, then-Dallas Mavericks guard JJ Redick speaks with Luka Doncic (right) during a 2021 game.
Now an ESPN analyst, then-Dallas Mavericks guard JJ Redick speaks with Luka Doncic (right) during a 2021 game.

Although the Hornets are far from a ready-made squad seeking to reach the next level, hiring Redick would be akin to Golden State plucking Marv Albert”s then-partner Steve Kerr out of the TNT broadcast booth in 2014. Kerr was immersed as a talking head and had zero coaching experience, but that didn’t deter the Warriors or New York Knicks from pursuing Kerr.

Kerr rewarded Golden State decision- makers by leading the Warriors to four NBA titles in his nine seasons. Redick wouldn’t be saddled with those kinds of expectations — not with the Hornets possessing the league’s longest playoff drought that’s reached eight years and counting.

Just punching a postseason ticket in more than one season, which only two Hornets coaches — Clifford and Paul Silas — did during their tenure since the turn of the century, is an accomplishment all by itself.

Baby steps are required before the Hornets can — eventually? — climb the NBA ladder. Remember, the franchise has never advanced past the postseason’s second round in its 36 years of existence and its just one of the many reasons the national spotlight on Charlotte has been sporadic at best.

Sum it all up and the direction the Hornets should go in becomes more apparent. Let’s face it: they need something to provide hope and excitement to not only their fan base, but also make them relevant nationally again.

Redick roaming the sidelines for the Hornets would certainly be a start.