Jeff Peterson

Hornets Notes: Miller, Clifford, Coaching Search, Staley

Brandon Miller vs. Scoot Henderson was the most debated topic heading into the draft last June, but their first on-court meeting didn’t happen until Wednesday, writes Shane Connuck of The Charlotte Observer. The Hornets opted for Miller with the No. 2 pick, even though Henderson was the more heralded prospect. Charlotte’s decision has paid off as Miller has been one of this season’s top rookies — averaging 17.3 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.4 assists in 70 games — while Henderson has taken longer to adjust to the NBA.

“Just to go against each other early in our careers — like, there’s gonna be even more fun in the long run,” Henderson said after the Trail Blazers pulled out a three-point victory at Charlotte. “(Miller) can shoot it really, really well. Off the dribble, catch and shoot. That really stuck out to me.”

Connuck notes that the Hornets hosted both players for individual workouts before making their final decision. They already have a dynamic lead guard in LaMelo Ball, even though he has missed most of the season due to injuries, and were intrigued by Miller’s size and shooting ability.

Miller was equally complimentary of Henderson after their first game.

“He can do a bit of everything, tonight he was knocking down threes,” Miller said. “A big physical guard who can get downhill and finish around the rim and create. I think it’s a good fit for him in Portland because he has pieces around him who can knock down shots. So you know he’s going to have a great career and I look forward to playing against him again.”

There’s more from Charlotte:

  • Miller achieved a shooting feat Friday night that only Stephen Curry has ever matched, per Alex Zietlow of The Charlotte Observer. Miller became just the second player to top 25 points by halftime without missing a shot from the field or the foul line while attempting at least five three-pointers. “You’ve been watching him all year,” coach Steve Clifford said. “He’s a very mature, very poised player. I mean, the things he does, you can’t teach. And it’s interesting watching him: All of the stuff that you want him to do as a team, he’s good at. But then all the things as a coach that you have no say over, he’s good at that too. We function well when he’s out there because the team stuff, he’s great at, and then he’s a talented guy. He’s a great competitor.”
  • Clifford’s decision to accept a front office role is the best move for him and the team, contends Roderick Boone of The Charlotte Observer. Boone points out that the Hornets faced an April 30 deadline to notify Clifford if they were planning to extend his contract. Resolving the issue early gives the organization a head start on hiring Clifford’s replacement.
  • At a press conference this week, executive vice president Jeff Peterson talked about the qualities he’s looking for in the team’s next head coach, Boone adds. “A lively energy to come in with a level of excitement to teach these guys,” Peterson said. “As Cliff was saying, it’s a different generation so the ability to teach them and help them retain information is important. (Also) player development. We are still relatively in this youthful phase and at the same time I feel like everyone can be better. I don’t care how old you are or how many years of service you have in this league, you can always find a way to be better.”  
  • Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe believes the Hornets should consider South Carolina’s Dawn Staley as the NBA’s first female head coach. He states that the Celtics were interested in interviewing Staley during the coaching search that led to the hiring of Ime Udoka.

Southeast Notes: Clifford, Hornets’ Coaching Search, Bogdanovic, Magic

At a press conference this afternoon, Steve Clifford explained his decision to step down as head coach of the Hornets at the end of the season, write Roderick Boone and Shane Connuck of The Charlotte Observer. Clifford admitted that the team’s lack of success over the past two years, much of which can be attributed to a short-handed roster, played a major role. Charlotte is 45-112 since Clifford returned to the team last summer.

“I’ll just get right to it,” the 62-year-old coach told reporters. “There’s a certain energy level that you need to have a chance to coach effectively in this league. For me, the last couple of years with the losing had been a factor in it. But as we have been meeting and discussing things, I’m just not comfortable that I can — that I’m ready right now to — give the players what they need from a head coach in order to play well every night.”

Clifford is expected to move into a front office job, although the details of that position haven’t been finalized. He also coached the team from 2013-18 and has the most wins in franchise history. Executive vice president Jeff Peterson believes he’ll be an important addition to the management team.

“I think Cliff will become that person who (players) can go to and confide in at times,” Peterson said. “He always shoots it straight, regardless of who you are. You may not like it at the moment, but the players respect that. Having that familiar face and voice — still within the organization — is going to be very valuable.”

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • In a separate story, Boone evaluates five prominent candidates as the Hornets begin the search for their next head coach. In addition to Celtics assistant Charles Lee and Heat assistant Chris Quinn, who were mentioned earlier, Boone looks at Nuggets assistant David Adelman, Mavericks assistant Sean Sweeney and Nets assistant Will Weaver.
  • Hawks guard Bogdan Bogdanovic had a heated exchange with coach Quin Snyder late in Monday’s game with Chicago that was audible on the Bulls’ broadcast, but they both dismissed the incident afterward and said their relationship is fine, per Lauren Williams of the Journal-Constitution. “We are doing this almost every other minute or we are verbally fighting all the time, which is normal,” Bogdanovic said. “That means we both care and everyone cares.”
  • The Magic continue to rely on defense as they fight for home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs, notes Jason Beede of The Orlando Sentinel. Orlando posted a 103.1 defensive rating during its just-completed eight-game homestand, which was the best in the league during that time. The Magic limited opponents to 99.4 PPG over those eight games.

Southeast Notes: Wizards, Wright, Peterson, Mosley

Ted Leonsisplan to move the Wizards from Washington, D.C. to Alexandria, Virginia appears to be on life support, according to David Aldridge of The Athletic.

As Aldridge details, Virginia senator Louise Lucas, who is the chair of the state senate’s Finance and Appropriations Committee, removed the proposal to build a new arena and “entertainment district” from the state’s 2024 budget, and that budget was approved on Saturday by Virginia’s General Assembly.

While it’s possible that proposal will be revived and regain momentum as a result of various political maneuvering, Aldridge believes the setback gives Leonsis a chance to return to the bargaining table with D.C. mayor Muriel Bowser to figure out a deal that would keep the Wizards in Washington going forward. Reaching a compromise to keep the Wizards in the nation’s capital would allow everyone to save face, Aldridge contends.

Here’s more from around the Southeast:

  • Heat guard Delon Wright, who signed with Miami last month after being waived by Washington, has been a DNP-CD for five straight games, including a surprising loss to his former team on Sunday. However, he’s not complaining about his role, writes Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. “I’m just trying to stay as ready as I can,” Wright said. “I can’t complain too much because I’m coming into a different situation with a team that just went to the Finals. I’m just trying to fit in. I’m not in a position to be moping around. So I just have to stay ready whenever I’m called upon and do the best I can with whatever role they give me.”
  • Nets guard Dennis Schröder, who knew Jeff Peterson in Atlanta before reuniting with him briefly in Brooklyn, said the Hornets‘ new head of basketball operations is a “great human being” who is honest, straightforward, and holds people accountable, per Roderick Boone of The Charlotte Observer. Peterson is already making a positive impression on Hornets players, Boone adds. “Yeah, he’s engaged,” Miles Bridges said. “He’s coming to every practice, every game. And just to have a GM who cares and shows up all the time means a lot.”
  • Jamahl Mosley‘s new four-year extension with the Magic doesn’t include a team option for the 2027/28 season, a league source tells Josh Robbins of The Athletic. That reporting suggests the deal is fully guaranteed.

Jeff Peterson Hopes To Make Hornets NBA’s “Premier Franchise”

New Hornets executive vice president of basketball operations Jeff Peterson is in the unusual position of taking over a front office in the midst of a regular season. In an interview with Roderick Boone of The Charlotte Observer following today’s introductory press conference, the former Nets executive talked about the advantages of getting a jump on the offseason.

“I think it’s an incredible blessing to have these extra, 20, 21 games, a few weeks left in the season to evaluate,” Peterson said. “And that’s players, roster, the staff — all of it. I’ll look at it as, yeah, maybe it’s a small sample size, but it’s better than nothing. So I’m excited to have this opportunity.”

Peterson is aiming high in his new position, Boone adds, stating several times at the press conference that he wants to turn the Hornets into the NBA’s “premier franchise.” That’s a lofty goal for an organization that hasn’t been to the playoffs since 2017, which is the longest postseason drought in the league. Peterson understands it will take time, but he hopes to make Charlotte a place where the NBA’s best players want to be.

“I think it’s probably a little cliché, but literally it’s one step at a time,” he said. “I’ve seen certain franchises, when you try to skip steps, ultimately you don’t lay that foundation and ultimately it ends up being a failure or a disaster. It doesn’t turn out the way you want it to be. So literally one step at a time.

“We’re going to try to show up every day, be a little bit better, get better in the areas that we need to get better — whether that’s on the court, off the court — being intentional with our details. (Be) process oriented. I can’t give a timeline on it, but hopefully in some years from now we’re in the playoffs and shaving success. But it’s sustainable success.”

Peterson addressed a few more topics in his conversation with Boone, including:

The future of LaMelo Ball, whose last two seasons have been derailed by injuries:

“I’m excited about LaMelo, man. The size, the shooting, the passing, his vision. The way he likes to get others involved. That’s what I like to see in point guards, to control the game. Again, it’s not about him. He also has room to improve, he’s still young. So, we’ve talked a lot about player development, being a staple of the organization and I think all those guys, they’re young and they’ve got a ton of upside.”

The prospects of re-signing Miles Bridges, who will be an unrestricted free agent this summer:

“First and foremost, the guy’s durable. He is so robust. He wants to play every game, which quite frankly, you don’t see that in this NBA anymore. So I’m excited about that, a guy that wants to compete night-in and night-out. But his game is impressive. He can shoot, he can guard multiple positions, he’s unselfish. So, I like Miles.”

Other potential changes in the Hornets’ front office:

“I’m going to evaluate the staff. I do think there’s some really, really talented people in that group. I met them now, but previously before getting here I hadn’t met all of them. So, I’m excited to get to know them. We’ll add to the group. For sure we’ll add to the group. But you’ll hear me say this a million times, ‘I can’t do this job all by myself.’ So, I need a staff that’s excited, that’s passionate, loyal, I can trust that wants to be here and help build.”

Hornets Hire Jeff Peterson As New Head Of Basketball Operations

MARCH 5: The Hornets have officially announced in a press release that Peterson has been hired as the club’s executive vice president of basketball operations. The team confirmed that he’ll be the primary basketball decision-maker in addition to leading the front office’s day-to-day operations.

“We’re excited to have Jeff join the Charlotte Hornets as the new leader of our basketball operations,” co-owners Schnall and Gabe Plotkin said in a statement. “He shares our vision, our values and our goal of becoming the premier franchise in the NBA.

“Jeff is a rising star in our league who is known for his player evaluation, his communication skills and his ability to develop strong relationships. His experience of having worked with multiple organizations and different general managers will be a great benefit to us. We look forward to working with Jeff as we continue to build our team and we want to welcome him to Charlotte.”

FEBRUARY 29: Nets executive Jeff Peterson will become the Hornets‘ new head of basketball operations, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

The report is confirmed by Rod Boone of The Charlotte Observer (Twitter link), who states that rumors regarding Peterson potentially coming to Charlotte began last summer.

Peterson, 35, worked under Hornets co-owner Rick Schnall in Atlanta early in his career, Wojnarowski notes. Schnall was a minority owner with the Hawks when Peterson started as an intern and worked his way up to assistant general manager within f0ur years.

Peterson also established a strong relationship with Charlotte coach Steve Clifford, who served as a coaching consultant for Brooklyn during the 2021/22 season, Wojnarowski adds.

Sources tell Wojnarowski that the Hornets talked to roughly a dozen candidates before deciding on Peterson. He has been with the Nets since 2019, which is when he became an assistant GM under Sean Marks.

Bobby Marks of ESPN (Twitter link) points out that the Hornets already have some assets in place for their rebuilding project as Peterson takes over. LaMelo Ball and Brandon Miller appear to be long-term foundational pieces, and Charlotte will have a high lottery pick in this year’s draft, along with Houston’s second-round selection, which is likely to fall in the top 40.

Eastern Notes: Hornets, Peterson, Clifford, Bridges, Pistons, Murray, Raptors

By all accounts, the Hornets made a strong choice in reportedly deciding on Nets executive Jeff Peterson to run their front office, writes Roderick Boone of The Charlotte Observer.

One source who has spent plenty of time around Peterson called it a “great, great get” for the Hornets, while a high-ranking executive who previously worked with Peterson referred to him as “incredibly intelligent and super genuine,” Boone reports.

Peterson will have many items on his to-do list in the coming weeks and months once he’s officially hired, according to Boone, who points to head coach Steve Clifford‘s future as one major decision awaiting the new head of basketball operations. The Hornets don’t owe Clifford any additional guaranteed money, Boone writes, so if they decide not to retain him beyond the season, they could simply turn down his team option for 2024/25.

Peterson will also face an important free agency decision this summer on Miles Bridges, who has picked up where he left off on the court this season but has been the subject of multiple domestic violence accusations in the past two years. His most recent legal case was dismissed last month. Multiple league sources tell Boone that Charlotte could face competition from the Pistons for the former Michigan State forward.

In the shorter term, Peterson may look to start filling out his new front office. According to Boone, one candidate for a possible assistant general manager role is Matt Tellem, Brooklyn’s director of strategic planning and an assistant GM for the G League’s Long Island Nets. Tellem is considered a salary cap expert, says Boone.

Here’s more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • Although the Pistons envision trade-deadline acquisitions Quentin Grimes and Simone Fontecchio as key pieces of next season’s team, they plan to bring both wings off the bench for now and take a look at five of their recent first-round picks as starters, writes Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press (subscription required). Healthy and back from his three-game suspension, Isaiah Stewart will continue to be part of Detroit’s starting five alongside Cade Cunningham, Jaden Ivey, Ausar Thompson, and Jalen Duren for the foreseeable future, barring injuries. The hope is that Stewart’s defense will make up for the first unit having less spacing, Sankofa explains.
  • Hawks guard Dejounte Murray has locked in a $500K bonus on top of his base salary this season after making his 125th three-pointer of the season on Saturday, tweets ESPN’s Bobby Marks. The bonus had been deemed likely and already counted against Murray’s $18.2MM cap hit because he earning that incentive last season by making 133 threes.
  • Raptors star Scottie Barnes is out indefinitely after fracturing his hand on Friday and may have played his last game of the 2023/24 season. However, Warriors forward Draymond Green believes Barnes is capable of great things next year and beyond, as Michael Grange of relays. “Scottie is an incredible player,” Green said on Friday. “… Me playing the point forward position, I’m not going to sit up here and act like I was the first one to ever do it, but I think I’ve done it a little differently than most. And he’ll take that to another level. … I think Scottie will do way more than I ever did.”
  • Barnes’ injury was unfortunately timed, given that the new-look Raptors were beginning to show some promise, according to Josh Lewenberg of, who explores what the All-Star’s absence means for the team going forward.

Timberwolves’ Lloyd Among Hornets’ Front Office Candidates

Timberwolves executive Matt Lloyd is among the “prime names” to watch as the Hornets seek a new head of basketball operations, Marc Stein reports in his latest article at Substack.

Lloyd is the senior vice president of basketball operations under Tim Connelly in Minnesota. He was one of Connelly’s first hires back in 2022 after having previously served in Orlando’s front office as an assistant general manager, interim GM, and VP of basketball operations. Lloyd also had a lengthy stint in the Bulls’ front office earlier in his career.

A report earlier this month indicated that Hornets president of basketball operations and general manager Mitch Kupchak would be moving into an advisory role with the franchise. While Kupchak continues to serve as the head of basketball operations while the team searches for his replacement, the expectations is that Charlotte will make a hire by the end of the regular season.

Stein also names Pelicans general manager Trajan Langdon and Nets assistant GM Jeff Peterson as “prime” contenders for the Hornets job. Both Langdon and Peterson were identified as candidates in multiple previous reports, with Rod Boone of the Charlotte Observer referring to Langdon as one of the potential frontrunners.

Langdon is the No. 2 executive in New Orleans’ front office under David Griffin and has been connected to other general manager jobs in the past. Langdon withdrew from the Kings’ front office search following some initial interest from Sacramento back in 2020 and interviewed for the Wizards’ top job in 2023.

According to Stein, the Nets are believed to have strong interest in retaining Peterson as a top lieutenant under Sean Marks and may offer him a promotion and/or a raise, which was previously reported. Peterson was in Atlanta’s front office when one of the new Hornets co-owners, Rick Schnall, was part of the Hawks’ ownership group.

Sixers general manager Elton Brand was named as another possible frontrunner for the Hornets’ position, but a report two weeks ago indicated that he would remain in Philadelphia rather than pursuing the top job in Charlotte.

Nets Notes: Vaughn, Ollie, Marks, Bridges, Budenholzer

Speaking on Tuesday to reporters, including ESPN’s Tim Bontemps, Nets general manager Sean Marks said there wasn’t a single event or game that made the team decide to fire head coach Jacque Vaughn. While some Brooklyn players expressed frustration following a December 27 loss in which the team sat several regulars, as well as after last Wednesday’s 50-point blowout loss in Boston, Marks pointed to a general lack of energy and effort when asked for specifics on what went into the decision to dismiss Vaughn.

“It’s about the level of compete,” Marks said. “We’re not going to be the most talented team in the league. I’m not an idiot. I totally understand that. But at the same time, this is a talented group of young men out there. And my expectations, and I think their expectations, should be to hold each other accountable to do the little things. The effort plays, the loose balls, the contested shots and so forth, diving on the floor.

“These are things that should be expected when you’re in a place that we’re at right now, where we’re clawing and grappling for every single thing we can. That’s what I would hope to see over these next 28 games, and that’s probably, to be quite frank, some things I haven’t seen. The level of effort and the level of compete has not always been there.”

New interim head coach Kevin Ollie made that lack of energy and hustle a focus in his first practice with the club on Tuesday, as Bontemps details. Ollie pointed out that the Nets don’t recover enough loose balls or draw enough charges, referring to the team’s poor numbers in those categories as “losing basketball.”

“I got something called EGBs, which is energy generating behaviors, and it’s 17 behaviors of those things. And we went through the list extensively today,” Ollie said on Tuesday. “(They) have nothing to do with talent but everything to do with heart and will. And I think that’s what it comes down to.

“Remember, I played 15 years professionally, 13 years in this league, and never once (had) a coach call a play for me. I had to get it with grit. I had to get it with determination. I had to get it with a mindset that we’re going to get better each and every day. That’s how I coach, that’s what I’m going to demand. I want them to demand that from me, and that’s from day one.”

Here’s more on the Nets:

  • Marks is under contract beyond this season, sources tell Ian Begley of, and the veteran Nets executive has a close relationship with team owner Joe Tsai. Marks told reporters on Tuesday that he has been given no indication Tsai won’t keep him around to run the team’s latest head coaching search this spring. “Joe and I have always been in complete partnership,” Marks said, per Bontemps. “And it doesn’t mean we always agree. I mean, you have to have good discussions and robust discussions, but Joe and I will make this decision, and he has given me no reason to believe that I won’t be able to make that decision.”
  • Still, Marks’ future with the Nets has been a subject of speculation around the NBA, Michael Scotto of HoopsHype said on the HoopsHype podcast with Brian Lewis of The New York Post. According to Scotto, in the event that Marks remains in Brooklyn, one possibility floated in league circles is a scenario in which the Nets promote assistant general manager Jeff Peterson to GM and give him more day-to-day responsibilities while Marks stays above him in the front office hierarchy.
  • Scotto and Lewis discussed many more Nets-related topics in the HoopsHype podcast, including the futures of players like Nic Claxton, Cam Thomas, and Ben Simmons in Brooklyn, Scotto also said there were rumblings that certain players – including Mikal Bridges and former Net Spencer Dinwiddie – weren’t thrilled by the fact that Vaughn’s offensive game plan focused so heavily on Simmons, who hasn’t been healthy for most of his time in Brooklyn.
  • Bridges said on Tuesday that he wants to remain in Brooklyn long-term, per Dan Martin of The New York Post. “I’m here now and want to stay here,” Bridges said. “And I’m going to keep grinding and getting to wherever we’ve got to get to win, and that’s why I’m here for.” The Nets turned away trade inquiries this season on Bridges and their goal is to ultimately acquire a star or two to play alongside him, per Scotto.
  • In a pair of stories for The New York Post, Mike Vaccaro wonders what it will take for the Nets to move on from Marks, while Zach Braziller identifies several potential candidates for Brooklyn’s permanent head coaching job. That list begins with Mike Budenholzer, whose name is “at the tip of everyone’s tongue” in discussing possible candidates, according to Scotto.

Southeast Notes: Hornets, Langdon, Brand, Heat, Capela, Okongwu

With Mitch Kupchak shifting to an advisory role, the Hornets are seeking a lead executive with previous experience, Roderick Boone of the Charlotte Observer reports. Pelicans GM Trajan Langdon and Sixers GM Elton Brand are considered the early frontrunners to replace Kupchak, Boone adds.

Charlotte is likely to hire both a president of basketball operations and a GM, according to Boone, who also lists Bucks assistant GM Milt Newton, Nets assistant GM Jeff Peterson and Knicks assistant GM Frank Zanin as potential candidates for the lead executive job.

Bulls GM Marc Eversley is another name under consideration, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times tweets.

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • The Heat have won four of their last six games, following a seven-game losing streak. A team meeting in late January helped to turn their fortunes, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald writes. Numerous players spoke up, as well as coach Erik Spoelstra. “I don’t think it’s a coincidence,” Heat swingman Duncan Robinson said of the team’s improved play. “If there’s anything I’ve learned during my time in the NBA, it’s that a big part of playing well is not necessarily about Xs and Os, but putting your own whatever sort of things you’re going through aside and just giving into the team. I don’t think it’s a coincidence.”
  • The Hawks’ top two centers are banged up heading into the All-Star break, according to a team press release. Clint Capela is showing progress in his rehab from a left adductor strain but he’ll be listed as out for Wednesday’s game at Charlotte. He’s expected to return to practice following the All-Star break. Onyeka Okongwu left Monday’s game against Chicago late in the fourth quarter with a left big toe injury. Okongwu underwent an MRI on Tuesday and has been diagnosed with a left big toe sprain. He’ll be re-evaluated in seven-to-10 days.
  • In case you missed it, there’s an update on Miles Bridges‘ latest legal situation.

Mitch Kupchak Moving Into Advisory Role With Hornets

Hornets president of basketball operations Mitch Kupchak will leave his post to become an organizational advisor to the franchise, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

The search for a replacement will begin immediately, and new owners Rick Schnall and Gabe Plotkin are expected to hire someone before the end of the regular season, Wojnarowski adds. Sources tell ESPN that Kupchak will continue his current duties until his successor is named.

Wojnarowski hears that several current general managers will be among the targets of the search, including the Sixers’ Elton Brand, the Pelicans’ Trajan Langdon, the Cavaliers’ Mike Gansey and the Clippers’ Trent Redden. Sources tell Woj that some assistant GMs will be considered too, such as the Nets’ Jeff Peterson, the Wizards’ Travis Schlenk and the Kings’ Wes Wilcox, all of whom worked for the Hawks when Schnall was a minority owner in Atlanta.

Roderick Boone of The Charlotte Observer also lists Bucks assistant GM Milt Newton and Knicks assistant GM Frank Zanin as potential candidates.

Schnall and Plotkin began plotting a new course after purchasing a majority interest in the Hornets in August, Wojnarowski states. They are focused on rebuilding around a young roster as the team parted with veterans such as Terry Rozier and P.J. Washington in recent trades. Plans are also in the works for a $275MM arena renovation and a $60MM practice facility.

Kupchak will leave behind a mixed record during his time with the Hornets, Boone observes. He was able to fix the cap situation and make the team competitive after taking over as general manager in 2018, but his signature move — the signing of Gordon Hayward to a four-year, $120MM contract in 2020 despite a history of injuries — didn’t pay off as Kupchak had hoped. Hayward was traded this week to Oklahoma City for a modest return.

Drafting LaMelo Ball and Brandon Miller may leave the Hornets with a brighter future, but Boone notes that Kupchak had his share of draft misses, including in 2021 when Charlotte selected James Bouknight, Kai Jones and Scottie Lewis, who are no longer with the team.