People around the NBA have speculated for years about the possibility of Hornets president of basketball operations Mitch Kupchak leaving the organization or transitioning into more of an advisory role, but those whispers have intensified this year, according to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report. As Fischer explains, Kupchak’s current contract with Charlotte is believed to expire at the end of this season.
It’s unclear at this point what Kupchak’s future holds, but Fischer says two names have frequently been cited as potential candidates for the top job in the Hornets’ front office if a change occurs. One is current assistant general manager Buzz Peterson, who was roommates with team owner Michael Jordan at UNC. The other is Bulls GM Marc Eversley, who interviewed for the job in 2018 before the Hornets hired Kupchak.
Here’s more on the Hornets:
- “Word has circulated” among rival front offices that Hornets forward Gordon Hayward may be interested in a change of scenery this offseason, Fischer reports. However, a source close to Hayward told Bleacher Report that the veteran is primarily focused on recovering from the foot injury that appears likely to end his season.
- Some league executives think that Hayward could be involved in a trade for Russell Westbrook, allowing the Hornets to increase their 2023 cap flexibility, according to Fischer. However, it would be a challenge for the Hornets and Lakers to work out a deal that appeals to both sides and includes both of those highly-paid former All-Stars. Using Hayward to try to acquire a center is another option Charlotte could explore, Fischer adds.
- It’s unclear whether the Pacers will seriously consider Myles Turner – long considered a top trade target for the Hornets – this offseason, but league personnel expect Charlotte to be in the market for a rim protector like Turner. “They don’t defend,” one team scout said to Fischer. “You gotta find a defensive identity.”
- Fischer’s sources believe the Hornets would match any offer sheet for RFA-to-be Miles Bridges. With that in mind, it remains to be seen if teams will be dissuaded from going after Bridges or if there could be a club willing to submit a maximum-salary offer to force Charlotte to match it. A four-year max deal for Bridges from a rival suitor projects to be worth about $128MM.
- Even if the Hornets don’t make the playoffs via the play-in tournament, Fischer’s sources inside and outside of the franchise believe head coach James Borrego is a good bet to stick around. “It would make no sense to fire him,” an assistant general manager told Bleacher Report. “I know the NBA is a results-oriented business, but if you believe in him to be your coach, if you believe in him growing alongside LaMelo (Ball) and Bridges, you’ve taken a step forward each of the last two seasons, you just extended him. Why would not making the playoffs with a young roster suddenly change that?”