Hornets vice chairman and managing partner Curtis Polk is described by Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer as Michael Jordan‘s “eyes in Charlotte” for both the basketball and business side of the franchise. That makes him an important figure in the Hornets’ management hierarchy.
So, with new head of basketball operations Mitch Kupchak not saying much publicly about the club’s ongoing head coaching search, Bonnell went to Polk to get a sense of what the Hornets are looking for in their next coach. Polk also weighed in on a few other topics, so let’s round up a few highlights…
On the most important trait for the Hornets’ coaching hire:
“In today’s NBA, one of the important things, particularly in a market like Charlotte (which can’t live off free agency), is player development: getting those draft picks and developing them.
“It’s an 11-month business. Maybe at some point if you’re out of the playoffs, or after free agency, you have sort of a slow month, but this is 11 months of high-intensity work where you have to pay attention to what your players are doing in the offseason. Make sure they are following a training program so that they don’t come into training camp out of shape or picked up any bad habits. It’s really something that has become a premium: What are the players doing in the offseason?
“That is going to become a very important quality to our coaching hires – that they came from an environment where there was a big premium on player development, and where they’re able to articulate to Mitch what sort of program they plan to put in place with us.”
[RELATED: 2018 NBA Head Coaching Search Tracker]
On whether Kupchak has full autonomy to make personnel decisions:
“Mitch is our guy. Mitch has the authority to make all the decisions relative to basketball. When I say decisions, he’ll go through a process, just like he is right now with the coach. He will bring to ownership the decision he wants to make. But for the most part, I can’t imagine we’ll disagree with the things he recommends, based on the fact that he’s doing quite a bit of homework and we keep abreast of the process.
“I think Michael and I fully want to support his decisions. We might ask him some questions, but for the most part, it’s for him to put together a plan to get us back on track.”
On how close the Hornets are to where they need to be:
“I think a change here or there, maybe looking at how we get balanced offensively and defensively again with our new coaching staff. We won 36 games. There were a lot of close games that we lost. I feel like (by) putting a priority on developing young talent – that’s really key for us in developing a pipeline of players who after a few years can be significant contributors – I think we’ll be fine.”
On whether the Hornets would ever go through a rebuild similar to the Sixers’ “Process”:
“I think there are times when everybody goes through some version of that. That seems to be an extreme example. I can’t think of another one that extreme. In 2011, we went through our own little version of that for two seasons. It’s more of a (matter of) degrees. Right now, Mitch is still getting his arms around everything and we still don’t have a coach in place. I’m hopeful we won’t have to make dramatic changes to get this thing back on track.”