Hornets searching for new president with Mitch Kupchak moving to adviser role

The Charlotte Hornets will begin its search for a new president of basketball operations, the team announced Monday. General manager and president Mitch Kupchak will move to an adviser role within the organization once the new hire is found, the Hornets said.

Charlotte’s front-office change comes less than a week after the NBA trade deadline when the team dealt Gordon Hayward and P.J. Washington. With new ownership in place, the Hornets already traded away Terry Rozier this season and are preparing to retool its roster around LaMelo Ball this summer.

In August, new owners Rick Schnall and Gabe Plotkin purchased a majority interest in the team from Michael Jordan for $3 billion. The Hornets unveiled plans last month for a $275 million arena renovation and the building of a new practice facility.

The Hornets are 11-41 and 13th in the Eastern Conference while struggling with injuries this season.

Ball is among the players drafted by Kupchak during the executive’s six-year tenure as Charlotte’s president of basketball operations. Kupchak joined the Hornets in 2018 after working in the Los Angeles Lakers front office for 30 years, including 17 as general manager.

Kupchak also played with the Lakers during his 10-year playing career, which began in Washington as a member of the Bullets.

ESPN was first to report news of Kupchak’s role change.

Why is Kupchak transitioning to a new role?

It was inevitable that Charlotte would make a change in the front office once Jordan sold to a group led by Schnall and Plotkin. This had been one of the worst-kept secrets in the league, with the only question being why the Hornets waited this long and allowed the Kupchak regime to conduct all their trade deadline business.

Mired at 11-41 this season, Charlotte had been one of the league’s least successful teams over the last two decades, with just three playoff appearances since returning as an expansion team in 2004. The current team has been hampered by injuries but also made several glaring mistakes, with the Hayward contract and the 2020 draft standing out. A reluctance to spend under Jordan has also been a persistent issue, a key reason this year’s squad has such an overmatched bench. — John Hollinger, NBA senior writer

Hornets president candidates

League sources have mentioned Philadelphia 76ers general manager Elton Brand, Chicago Bulls general manager Marc Eversley and New Orleans Pelicans general manager Trajan Langdon as the three leading candidates for the top position with the Hornets.

In addition to upgrading the roster and, most likely, hiring a new coach, the new exec will likely be tasked with overhauling and modernizing the team’s threadbare internal infrastructure, notably on the scouting and player health fronts. — Hollinger

Required reading

(Photo: Jim Dedmon / USA Today)

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