Buzz Peterson

Eastern Notes: Hunter, Reddish, Jackson, Strus, Hornets Front Office

With De’Andre Hunter sidelined a minimum of eight weeks after undergoing wrist surgery, the Hawks will naturally rely more on Kevin Huerter and Cam Reddish at the wing spot, according to Chris Kirschner of The Athletic. Coach Nate McMillan will likely shorten his rotation with Hunter out.

Kirschner also notes both Hunter and Reddish are eligible for rookie scale extensions before the start of next season and it will be challenging to keep both due to luxury tax bill concerns. The Hawks should consider flipping some of their young talent for an established second star, Kirschner adds.

We have more from the Eastern Conference:

  • Pacers rookie big man Isaiah Jackson was assigned to the G League Fort Wayne Mad Ants to continue rehabbing a knee injury, according to James Boyd of the Indianapolis Star. Jackson hyperextended his left knee against Toronto on October 27. “He’s doing better,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “He’s going to … start doing some live practice stuff with the Mad Ants, and we’ll see. He may join us later in the week, but we’ll have to see.”
  • Heat reserve Max Strus missed five games due to a sprained left knee and has shown signs of rust since returning, Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald writes. He shot 3 of 10 from 3-point range and committed three turnovers in his first two games back. “I need to get conditioned,” Strus said. “I haven’t been able to run a lot. So I need to get my wind back. Things are just a little fast. So I just got to find my rhythm again. That will come with just playing, so I’ll be back in no time.”
  • The Hornets have made three front office promotions. Buzz Peterson was named senior VP of basketball operations and assistant GM, Larry Jordan was elevated to VP of player personnel and David Duquette was named an assistant GM, according to a team press release. All three have been with the organization for 10 or more years.

Southeast Notes: Wizards, Vogel, Peterson, Morris, Ross

Selfish play has put the Wizards in a tailspin, coach Scott Brooks told Candace Buckner of the Washington Post and other media members. Washington lost to the lottery-bound Hawks on Friday and have fallen to the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference standings. “Not passing the ball to one another. Simple as that,” Brooks said. “Nobody wanted to share the basketball (Friday). When you do that you end up taking bad shots. When you take bad shots, you end up missing. Simple game.” The Wizards have also ranked last in defensive field goal percentage since February 28th, Buckner points out.

In other developments around the Southeast Division:

  • The Magic were devastated by injuries this season but that excuse may not be enough for coach Frank Vogel to retain his job, according to Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel. Vogel has not received a public vote of confidence since the All-Star break and team president Jeff Weltman wouldn’t comment last month on his coach’s job security, Robbins continues. Team CEO Alex Martins was also evasive this weekend when asked Vogel’s status, saying only  “We don’t deal with those issues until the season’s over,” Robbins adds.
  • Buzz Peterson, the Hornets interim GM, is expected to maintain a significant role in the front office under new president and GM Mitch Kupchak, Chris Mannix of Yahoo Sports tweets. Peterson had served as the interim GM after Rich Cho was fired. Kupchak was officially hired on Sunday.
  • Wizards forward Markieff Morris was fined $15,000 by the league for “inappropriate comments” toward an official Friday night, according to an ESPN report. Morris made the comments when he was ejected during the first quarter against the Hawks.
  • Magic swingman Terrence Ross returned to action on Sunday night at Toronto after a lengthy absence, Robbins tweets. The former Raptor had not played since November 29th due to a knee injury and a subsequent bone bruise.

Hornets Expand Search For New GM

The Hornets are expanding their search for a new GM even though former Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak remains a leading candidate, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reports.

The Hornets are looking to replace Rich Cho after announcing last month they wouldn’t extend his contract.

The club has received permission to interview Sixers VP of Player Personnel Marc Eversley, Rockets Executive VP of Basketball Operations Gersson Rosas and Heat assistant GM Adam Simon, league sources told Wojnarowski.

However, Kupchak’s longstanding relationship with owner Michael Jordan could still tip the scales in his favor, Wojnarowski adds. The Lakers replaced Kupchak with Magic Johnson last season.

Assistant GM Buzz Peterson is currently running the day-to-day operations for the Hornets and is expected to remain with the organization once a new GM is hired. Charlotte hopes to fill the position by the end of the regular season, Wojnarowski adds.

Latest On Hornets’ Front Office Changes

The Hornets issued a press release today confirming that general manager Rich Cho won’t have his contract extended beyond this season. The club will begin its search for a new GM immediately, according to that announcement.

Speaking to Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer, Hornets vice chairman Curtis Polk said that Cho asked the team over the weekend if he could expect an extension on his current contract. Once Polk and controlling owner Michael Jordan decided that wouldn’t happen, the club “made a clean break” from Cho.

That means, as Bonnell writes, that assistant GM Buzz Peterson will run Charlotte’s front office on an interim basis. However, Polk indicated that Peterson likely won’t be considered for the permanent GM job, as he expects that person to come from outside the organization.

Here’s more from Bonnell and Polk:

  • According to Polk, the Hornets’ goal is to have a new GM in place by the end of the season. He expects about four to six candidates to receive interviews, though he acknowledged that some potential targets may not be available until their teams finish their respective seasons. “We’d like it to be as soon as possible, but we don’t want to handicap our choices,” Polk said.
  • Asked specifically about Mitch Kupchak, who is rumored to be Charlotte’s top target, Polk said that the former Lakers GM is “a good name,” but cautioned that he’s not sure what Kupchak’s level of interest in the position would be.
  • Polk said that networking skills and an ability to adapt to the changing times are two important traits for the next Hornets GM. “We need a strong leader who is well respected in the organization and within the industry,” Polk said. “Someone who can build on the tools Rich (provided): Analytics and also be a great evaluator (of talent). … The way basketball has evolved, we have to be careful about (someone who is) too set in their ways. We need to experiment in some regards, (not be saddled with) how basketball was eight years ago or 10 years ago.”

Hornets Won’t Retain Rich Cho, Begin Search For New GM

10:44am: The Hornets have officially confirmed they won’t extend Cho’s contract, announcing in a press release that they’ll begin searching for a new GM immediately.

“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,” controlling owner Michael Jordan said in a statement. “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.”

9:57am: The Hornets are expected to shake up their front office after the 2017/18 season, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, who reports that general manager Rich Cho is unlikely to receive a new contract from the team.

Per Wojnarowski, former Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak is expected to be the top target for Charlotte. The Hornets figure to pursue Kupchak in the hopes of partnering him in their front office with assistant general manager Buzz Peterson.

Cho, formerly the general manager of the Trail Blazers, was hired by the Hornets in June 2011. His tenure in Charlotte got off to a good start, as he made Kemba Walker his first draft pick with his new team later that month. However, the Hornets’ draft results since then have been mixed, at best, and the club has failed to become a contender.

In Cho’s seven seasons, the Hornets have an overall regular season record of 212-321 (.398). The team has made the postseason twice during that stretch, but was eliminated in the first round each time. Currently, Charlotte’s cap is overrun with expensive role players — Dwight Howard, Nicolas Batum, Marvin Williams, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, and Cody Zeller are earning nearly $85MM combined this season, and all have guaranteed salaries beyond this year. The Hornets reportedly considered moving Walker this season as a means of clearing one or two of those contracts from their books.

With Cho’s tenure as Hornets GM potentially nearing an end, Kupchak’s name has come up more than once as a potential replacement. Gery Woelfel of The Racine Journal Times wrote several weeks ago that the ex-Lakers GM is likely to be hired by an Eastern Conference team this summer, and Chris Mannix of Yahoo Sports later linked Kupchak specifically to the Hornets.

Kupchak, who headed up for the Lakers’ basketball operations department for the better part of two decades, saw his tenure come to an end last year when the franchise replaced him and Jim Buss with Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka. Although the Lakers won multiple titles under Kupchak, his personnel decisions drew heavy criticism in recent years — the massive contracts handed out to Luol Deng and Timofey Mozgov in 2016 were among his most significant missteps.