While former Los Angeles Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak is prominent in chatter about the Charlotte Hornets’ front office opening, he won’t be the only candidate. Another established name with interest is Detroit Pistons general manager Jeff Bower.
Bower is No. 2 in the Pistons’ front office, working for Stan Van Gundy, who runs the basketball operation as coach and team president. According to a source familiar with the situation, Bower and Van Gundy are both under contract with the Pistons through the end of this season. That same source said Bower, 56, would definitely be interested in the Hornets’ opening. Bower worked in Charlotte previously, in the original Hornets’ front office.
With Cho out, assistant general manager Buzz Peterson will run the front office on an interim basis. Curtis Polk, who has overseen most of Jordan’s investments for nearly three decades, said Peterson probably won’t be considered as the team searches for the next general manager.
Polk said the goal is for the Hornets – 24-33 at the All-Star break – to have a new GM by the end of the season, which would be mid-April assuming the franchise does not qualify for the playoffs. Polk said he anticipates four to six candidates receiving interviews. Polk said some attractive candidates might not be available to interview until the franchises they currently work for have completed their seasons.
Asked specifically about former Los Angeles Lakers executive and North Carolina player Mitch Kupchak, who has been tied for the possible opening for weeks, Polk said, “That’s a good name. We don’t know specifically what his level of interest would be.”
After declining to offer general manager Rich Cho a new contract, Charlotte Hornets owner Michael Jordan is planning to target former Los Angeles Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak for a high-ranking role in the organization, league sources told ESPN. Jordan is planning to continue grooming assistant GM Buzz Peterson as a foundation of Charlotte's front office, and Kupchak is a primary target to partner with Peterson, league sources told ESPN.
“I want to thank Rich for all of his hard work with the Charlotte Hornets organization through the years and wish him and his family the best in the future,” said Hornets Chairman Michael Jordan. “Rich worked tirelessly on behalf of our team and instituted a number of management tools that have benefited our organization. We are deeply committed to our fans and to the city of Charlotte to provide a consistent winner on the court. The search will now begin for our next head of basketball operations who will help us achieve that goal.”
The Charlotte Hornets are unlikely to bring back general manager Rich Cho on a new contract next season, league sources told ESPN. Hornets owner Michael Jordan is expected to pursue former Los Angeles Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak to partner in the front office with assistant GM Buzz Peterson, essentially replacing Cho, league sources said.
The Hornets have had no contact with Kupchak on a possible position, league sources said. Kupchak won two NBA titles as Lakers GM before he was swept out in 2017 upon the arrival of Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka. Jordan has long had an affinity for surrounding himself with fellow Tar Heels, and his plan includes Peterson remaining one of the key -- if not the key -- decision-maker in basketball matters. Charlotte could be pursuing Kupchak to further groom Peterson to take over full control of basketball operations, but the specifics of a role has not even been discussed with Kupchak, league sources said.
Chris Mannix: Hornets will not extend Rich Cho, per team. As @The Vertical reported earlier this month, Mitch Kupchak is a favorite among high ranking team officials to take over.
Cho is in the final year of his contract and there have been rumblings that former Los Angeles Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak is a favorite among high-ranking team officials to take over next summer. If Hornets owner Michael Jordan is resolved to replace Cho, he may not sign off on dealing Charlotte’s most appealing asset.
The Hornets continue to field calls on Kemba Walker, but no Walker deal gets done unless a team absorbs one of the handful of bad contracts on Charlotte’s roster, sources said. Another variable at play: The future of GM Rich Cho. Cho is in the final year of his contract and there have been rumblings that former Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak is a favorite among high-ranking team officials to take over next summer. If Hornets owner Michael Jordan is resolved to replace Cho, he may not sign off on dealing Charlotte’s most appealing asset.
When Fred Whitfield is not standing in his usual spot in the tunnel of the Spectrum Center at Charlotte Hornets games, Hall of Famer Michael Jordan probably figures that his close friend and business confidant is making an impression somewhere off the court. Whitfield is Hornets Sports & Entertainment’s chief operating officer, president and minority owner and oversees all business operations. The North Carolina native represented the organization’s efforts to secure the 2017 NBA All-Star Game and re-secure the game in 2019 after the controversial House Bill 2 (HB2) was repealed last year. His efforts have quietly played a major role in keeping the Hornets in Charlotte and sports entertainment afloat in the Spectrum Center.
Whitfield has the respect of NBA commissioner Adam Silver and team executives throughout the league, and Jordan is glad to have the NBA’s lone African-American COO as part of his team professionally and personally. “I’ve known him for over 35 years, and we have been through a lot together,” said Jordan, the Hornets’ owner and chairman. “We worked together when he worked with my agent, at Nike when we launched the Jordan Brand and he worked with me in the front office of the Wizards. We know and trust each other well, and that allows us to work cohesively with the same goals. I am thankful to have him as the team president and as my friend.”
Whitfield worked behind the scenes to push to repeal HB2 with the Hornets’ business and goodwill in mind. Whitfield’s work didn’t go unnoticed, as the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce named him the 2017 Economic Growth Champion of the Year. Whitfield told The Undefeated that if HB2 hadn’t been repealed, the Hornets might have been forced to move from North Carolina for financial reasons and because of a potential lack of sports and entertainment events at the Spectrum Center. Silver has said that although the repeal of HB2 “did not go far enough, we believe the recent legislation eliminates the most egregious aspects of the prior law.” Silver said he is also confident that the Hornets will “set equality principles to ensure that every All-Star event will proceed with open access and anti-discrimination policies.” Silver saluted Whitfield for playing a big role in getting the NBA All-Star Game back in Charlotte.
Peter Vecsey: “Harrison’s the kind of guy who will remember that forever,” said someone who knows him extremely well. “He still holds a grudge against the teams that didn’t draft him.” Especially the Charlotte Hornets! Michael Jordan’s team opted for Kentucky’s Michael Kidd-Gilchrist at No. 2 over Barnes, who played in state at the University of North Carolina.
The team also made the following announcements regarding basketball operations personnel: Rick Higgins has been promoted to coaching assistant/video coordinator, Cam Twiss has been promoted to General Manager of the team’s G League affiliate the Greensboro Swarm, David Kaplan has been promoted to manager of basketball analytics, Adam Filippi has transitioned to collegiate scouting and Jakub Kudlacek has been hired as an international scout.
Malik Monk: “I’m playing for the greatest player who ever played basketball,” Monk said Tuesday of Hornets owner and Hall of Famer Michael Jordan. “I can call and ask him questions, and I have (new teammates) Kemba (Walker) and Dwight (Howard), too.”
Rick Bonnell: Per ESPN cap expert @Bobby Marks, the @Charlotte Hornets are now $1.79 million below the NBA's luxury-tax line after Julyan Stone signing. (MORE)...
Charlotte Hornets General Manager Rich Cho announced today that the team has named Buzz Peterson Assistant General Manager. “Throughout his tenure with our organization, Buzz has been an integral part of all aspects of our basketball operations department, with a focus on scouting and player evaluation,” Cho said. “He brings a wide breadth of basketball knowledge to the position, having been involved in the game at various levels for close to three decades. I’m excited to be working more closely with Buzz in his new role and look forward to his continued contributions to our basketball team.”
Marc Stein: The Indiana Pacers have received permission to interview Hornets exec Chad Buchanan for a spot in their front office, league sources say.
The Charlotte Hornets have picked up the option for next season on general manager Rich Cho's contract, according to league sources. Sources told ESPN.com that the Hornets recently activated the 2017-18 in Cho's existing deal.
December 3, 2020 | 8:53 am EST Update
HoopsHype spoke with one general manager, three executives, and an NBA scout for their reactions to the blockbuster trade and what it means for the players and their new teams. “It’s a wash,” one Eastern Conference executive told HoopsHype. “Both teams needed to make a trade. Washington has to give up a pick because Wall has a bigger injury history and hasn’t played in two years. The contracts were the same. Russ should be really good in the East. Scotty (Brooks) should know how to use him. Washington will be better than they were since Russ is actually playing and Wall hasn’t been. I think Washington is for sure a playoff team.”
“The trade seemed inevitable,” another Eastern Conference executive told HoopsHype. “Two players at similar stages of their careers and both having demanded a change of scenery. Brooks gets a force of nature with whom he is well versed. Houston gets a much needed first-round pick as they inch toward a rebuild.”
After playing against Harden in pick-up games and showing some explosion, one scout believes his fit next to Harden in the backcourt should be a good transition. “I think it was time for a fresh start for both,” an NBA scout told HoopsHype. “I like Russell going to Washington and giving them an opportunity to keep Brad happy. Scott Brooks knows how to use him, and he’ll be the lead guard. Houston getting Wall and playing him with Harden seems similar to the fit with Russell. Obviously, there’s a real unknown about how good he’ll be back from injury. I think Washington got the better of the trade but let’s see what Wall’s status is.”
December 3, 2020 | 8:00 am EST Update
All-NBA forward Anthony Davis is finalizing a five-year, $190 million maximum contract to stay with the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers, Klutch Sports CEO and founder Rich Paul told ESPN. The deal includes an early termination option prior to the fifth year of the deal in 2024-25, Paul said.
Davis, a free agent, is expected to sign the contract as soon as Thursday. He considered several short- and long-term contract scenarios before accepting a full five-year, maximum offer, sources said. At 27 years old, Davis is the co-star of the Lakers with LeBron James — and the centerpiece of the franchise’s long-term future. Davis’ arrival in a trade with New Orleans to join James elevated the Lakers out of six straight seasons in the draft lottery and hurtled them toward an eventual 2019-20 NBA championship.
December 3, 2020 | 6:23 am EST Update
Adrian Wojnarowski: Russell Westbrook wanted to be in Washington, reunited with Scott Brooks, play with Brad Beal and John Wall wanted to play with James Harden, wanted to go to Houston. And finally they got that deal done.
Leonsis had also come to believe that Wall was, often if not always, “too cool for school,” in his thinking. And, the shirtless video of Wall at a party this summer, flashing gang signs, was the last straw. (Again, as I wrote two weeks ago: Leonsis was a thousand percent right in being furious with his 30-year-old face of the franchise for doing such a dumb thing.) This was not a decision that could be made by GM Tommy Sheppard, or his equivalent in Houston, Rafael Stone. “At the end of the day, this is a Ted call,” one source said.