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.