The Hornets haven’t made the playoffs since 2016 and haven’t won a postseason series since returning to the NBA in 2004 as the Bobcats. However, as the team goes through another rebuild, general manager Mitch Kupchak says team owner Michael Jordan is “100 percent on board with what we’re doing,” according to Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer.
“We made a decision to take a certain approach for this summer and we knew what that would lead to (losing) this year. There are no surprises,” Kupchak said. “With our plan, it just takes time. You draft a kid who is 19 years old and it’s going to take two or three years for him to help us win. Also, we wanted to slowly dig our way out of some of the contracts we had. That takes a year or two.”
Some of those pricey veteran contracts Kupchak referred to are coming off the books this summer, and the Hornets project to have $28MM+ in cap room, as Bonnell details. As he has said in the past, Kupchak reiterated today that Charlotte doesn’t expect to be in the market for major free agents this offseason, but suggested the club will have several options for how to use that cap space.
“You can (trade for) a player from another team straight into cap room,” Kupchak said. “Or maybe (take on) a player who makes decent money (on an unwanted contract) and you get a draft pick.”
Here’s more on the Hornets:
- Asked about the Hornets’ biggest needs going forward, Kupchak mentioned rim protection, rebounding, and “a wing that can score,” according to Bonnell. However, the Hornets’ GM said the team plans to take the best player available in the draft and figure out the fit.
- The Hornets have until Saturday to add at least one player to get back to the NBA-mandated roster minimum of 14. As Bonnell relays, Kupchak said today that Charlotte will likely go the 10-day contract route, and could call up a G League player from the Greensboro Swarm. The Hornets want to “look for someone we can develop,” Kupchak added.
- Rookies Caleb Martin and Jalen McDaniels will probably stick with the Hornets for the rest of the season rather than being sent to the G League, according to Kupchak (via Bonnell).
- The Hornets have never been a taxpaying team during Michael Jordan‘s tenure as owner, but Kupchak insisted that increasing payroll won’t be an issue once the team is ready to contend. “Even the tax won’t be an issue for him,” Kupchak said, per Rod Boone of The Athletic (Twitter link).
- Devonte’ Graham‘s breakout season has meant that Terry Rozier‘s role isn’t exactly what he was expecting when he signed with the Hornets last summer. But that’s okay with Rozier, as Bonnell writes in a separate Observer article. “If I sit here and complain that, ‘Oh, I should be the point guard!’ or ‘I should always have the ball in my hand!’ nobody really cares,” Rozier said. “(Graham) has put himself on the radar. You can’t take any of that away from him or this team. I just try to adjust.”