Adrian Wojnarowski: Mitch Kupchak has agreed to a deal …

Adrian Wojnarowski: Mitch Kupchak has agreed to a deal to become President and General Manager of the Charlotte Hornets, league sources told ESPN. The Hornets will hold a news conference early this week to introduce Kupchak.

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Kupchak will keep assistant GM Buzz Peterson in a front office role, and ultimately add own personnel changes to the management and scouting structure, league sources said. Jordan and Kupchak have had a longstanding relationship built around their ties to the University of North Carolina and late coach Dean Smith.
The Charlotte Hornets have made significant progress in contract talks with Mitch Kupchak to become president of basketball operations and general manager, and a formal agreement is expected to be reached soon, league sources told ESPN. Kupchak, who won two championships as the Los Angeles Lakers general manager, has been the focus of owner Michael Jordan's search process to replace ex-GM Rich Cho, whose contract wasn't renewed.
Kupchak will keep assistant GM Buzz Peterson in a front office role, and ultimately add his own personnel changes to the management and scouting structure, league sources said. Jordan and Kupchak have had a long relationship built around their ties to the University of North Carolina and late coach Dean Smith.
Kupchak has been offered the Hornets’ general manager’s job, and a source close to the situation said Monday it’s pretty much down to paperwork getting him on board. Kupchak is 63 and, like Hornets owner Michael Jordan, played at North Carolina. He would replace Rich Cho, who was informed in February the team would not sign him to a new contract.
Kupchak worked in the Los Angeles Lakers’ front office from the mid-1980s until he was fired as that team’s general manager in February of 2017. From the little I’ve been around him, and more importantly from the conversations I’ve had with some of his peers, he is liked and respected by agents, players and other general managers. You hear words such as “sensible,” “practical” and “collaborative.”

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Marc STEIN: I can only account for my own reporting on the subject. And everyone I've spoken to with knowledge of what's happening with the Hornets' vacancy insists that Kupchak, after he spent more than three decades in the Lakers' front office, remains at the top of the Charlotte owner Michael Jordan's wish list. According to the latest information, Rosas is the most serious candidate of the others interviewed by the Hornets to date. But word is that Jordan has yet to be convinced to move away from his preference to hire his fellow North Carolina alumnus Kupchak.
Marc STEIN: The status of Charlotte Coach Steve Clifford was not addressed above in our preview of potential coaching changes this offseason, but it seems safe to assume that every aspect of Charlotte's basketball operations will be under the microscope once the Hornets have their replacement for Rich Cho after a highly disappointing season in which they were expected to make a much more credible playoff push.
Hornets Sports & Entertainment (HSE) announced today the promotions of Fred Whitfield to President & Vice Chairman, Pete Guelli to Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer and James Jordan to Executive Vice President & Chief Administrative Officer. “I’m extremely proud of the strides that we have made as a business under the guidance of our leadership team,” said Hornets Managing Partner Curtis Polk. “Our entire staff has worked very hard to improve every aspect of our business operations from both the team and arena standpoint. The commitment from our fans and partners since our rebrand to the Hornets has been second to none and we are very excited about our organization’s future.”
The Charlotte Hornets have started securing permission to interview candidates for the franchise's vacant general manager's job, league sources told ESPN. Former Los Angeles Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak remains a frontrunner to ultimately receive an offer to replace Rich Cho, but the Hornets are engaging in a wider search process and plan to start an initial round of conversations with candidates as soon as this week, league sources said.
Assistant GM Buzz Peterson is running the day-to-day operations for the Hornets now, and is expected to continue with the organization once a new GM is hired. Charlotte is hopeful to have a GM in place sometime by end of the regular season in mid-April, league sources said.
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.
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 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.”
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.”
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.
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January 26, 2021 | 8:02 pm EST Update
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