Rich Cho

Western Notes: Paul, House, Prince, Favors, Suns

Rockets point guard Chris Paul was fined $35K for “aggressively confronting and recklessly making contact with a game official” but was not suspended, according to a league press release relayed by ESPN’s Tim MacMahon.

Paul was ejected with 4.4 seconds left in Game 1 of the Rockets’ conference semifinal series with Golden State on Sunday. He was whistled for his second technical foul when he made contact with referee Josh Tiven while arguing that Warriors guard Klay Thompson committed a loose-ball foul against him. The non-call on Thompson was correct, according to the NBA’s last two minute report, MacMahon notes. Paul said the contact was accidental.

We have more from around the Western Conference:

  • Rockets reserve forward Danuel House harbors no ill will toward the Warriors for cutting him loose during training camp, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle writes. “I was just trying to secure a job, show people my potential. I just needed an opportunity,” House said. “Those guys didn’t see me fit for it. I’m just grateful my hometown team took me in. It’s business. I respect the nature of the business. But of course I want to win.” House had three points and three rebounds in 21 minutes during the series opener. He had his two-way contract converted into a standard deal in mid-March.
  • Grizzlies executive Tayshaun Prince was promoted to “special advisor” to vice president of basketball affairs but his role won’t change much, as Chris Herrington of the Daily Memphian explains. He’ll remain a crucial link from the front office to the players and coaches, though now with more empowerment, Herrington continues. Rich Cho, who was earlier named vice president of basketball strategy, will lead the analytics/research/systems staff while Chris Makris will continue to lead the traditional scouting staff, Herrington adds. Prince will also help evaluate professional, college and G League personnel.
  • Derrick Favors‘ chances of remaining with the Jazz hinge on what happens in the early days of free agency, as Ryan McDonald of the Deseret News explains. Favors’ $16.9MM salary for next season, which could total $18.8MM if he reaches incentives in the contract, becomes guaranteed if he’s on the roster past July 6. If Utah is able to secure a commitment from a free agent power forward, Favors won’t get the guarantee. If it can’t find a suitable replacement by then, the team will likely retain Favors.
  • The Suns are close to hiring Gonzaga assistant coach Riccardo Fois for a major player development role within the organization, Marc Stein of the New York Times tweets. Fois is current the Zags’ coordinator of analytics and video operations.

Grizzlies Notes: Cho, Valanciunas, Anderson, Assistants

After being let go by Charlotte in 2018, former Hornets GM Rich Cho had been consulting work for the Grizzlies, so it made sense that new Memphis executive VP of basketball operations and former Hornets intern Zach Kleiman contacted him right away last week when a permanent, high-level position opened up in the team’s front office.

“Yeah, he reached out to me pretty quickly,” Cho said, per Peter Edmiston of The Athletic. “Zach did a really good job for us in Charlotte as an intern, he’s a really bright guy and he’s passionate about the game. He’s an extremely hard worker. I’ve watched his career progress from afar and I’m really happy the way things have gone for him, especially that he’s getting this opportunity.”

As for his new role in Memphis, Cho said that he’ll be overseeing the team’s analytics department and all of the salary cap administration. He’ll also be advising the rest of the management group on player personnel issues and acquisitions, as Edminston details. Kleiman will be running the show for the Grizzlies, so Cho is ready to do what he can to assist the 30-year-old executive.

“On a 30,000-foot level, I’ll be helping Zach out wherever he needs help, and advising him accordingly,” Cho said. “As the GM, he’s going to have to wear a lot of hats and be involved in everything, and I’m going to try to help him out wherever I can.”

Here’s more on the Grizzlies:

  • Of players who appeared in at least 10 games in March, Jonas Valanciunas has the league’s 16th-highest usage rate, and averaged 10 more minutes per game than he had been playing in Toronto, writes David Cobb of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. As Cobb notes, Valanciunas was very happy with his increased role in Memphis, which could have an impact on his contract decision this summer — the big man has until June 13 to decide whether or not to pick up a $17.62MM player option.
  • As expected, Grizzlies forward Kyle Anderson underwent thoracic outlet decompression surgery on his injured right shoulder on Wednesday, the team announced in a press release. According to the Grizzlies, Anderson is expected to make a full recovery and resume full basketball activities before the club opens camp in the fall.
  • The Grizzlies have now lost a pair of assistant coaches to Vanderbilt. After leaving Memphis to become Vanderbilt’s new head coach, Jerry Stackhouse has brought fellow assistant Adam Mazarei to his staff, the school confirmed today in a press release. Grizzlies assistant Chad Forcier also announced earlier this week that he’s moving on, as J.B. Bickerstaff‘s staff disperses in various directions in advance of a new coach being hired.

Grizzlies Hire Rich Cho, Glen Grunwald

The Grizzlies are adding two former NBA general managers to their front office, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPNRich Cho, a former GM with both the Hornets and Trail Blazers, will now serve as the Grizzlies’ Vice President of Basketball Strategy, while former Knicks and Raptors’ executive Glen Grunwald has been hired as a Senior Advisor. The team officially announced the news earlier this evening.

Woj previously noted that the Grizzlies were still looking for some more experienced basketball executives to work alongside (or perhaps below) Jason Wexler and Zach Kleiman, who were promoted last week to head of basketball operations and VP of basketball operations, respectively.

Accordingly, It’s likely that today’s moves will end the Grizzlies’ front office rebuild that began with the demotion of former head of basketball operations Chris Wallace, given both Cho’s and Grunwald’s basketball acumen.

As noted by Chris Herrington of the Daily Memphian, Cho’s time in Charlotte coincided with Kleiman’s internship with the franchise while he was a law student at Duke University. Interestingly, Kleiman also did a summer internship with the Knicks in 2008 while Grunwald was in New York.

Those two connections, together with Kleiman being quoted in the official release from the team, make it seem likely that he, and not Wexler, may be the executive with whom Cho and Grunweld will primarily work, leaving Wexler to continue dealing with his responsibilities as president of business operations.

Herrington also adds that Grunwald will work remotely from Canada, where he currently (and still will) serves as the President and CEO of Canada Basketball.

Southeast Notes: Hornets, Wade, Simons

If the Hornets are going to turn the fate of their franchise around, they’ll have to improve how they handle lottery picks. Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer writes that only one of their seven different top-11 picks since 2011 has been an All-Star.

Bonnell breaks down ex-general manager Rich Cho‘s underwhelming draft portfolio noting that beyond Walker, only one of the remaining six players they’ve drafted in the top-11 has even gone on to be a consistent starter (Michael Kidd-Gilchrist).

To Cho’s credit, Cody Zeller, Frank Kaminsky and Malik Monk can all be valuable rotation pieces for the foreseeable future but it’s hard to justify the selections of Bismack Biyombo and Noah Vonleh.

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • Pending free agent Dwyane Wade has not decided if he’s going to retire or not. If he returns, Chris Mannix of Yahoo Sports tweets, he’d want to return with the Heat.
  • Not surprisingly, Anfernee Simons was particularly excited to work out for the Magic, the franchise with whom his namesake made his mark. John Denton of the team’s official site writes about the Florida native’s connection to the team and his decision to enter the draft directly out of prep school.
  • It’s official, the Hawks have made Melvin Hunt, Chris Jent, Greg Foster, Marlon Garnett and Matt Hill assistant coaches under new head coach Lloyd Pierce, the team announced on its website.

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.

Hornets Notes: Walker, Graham, Cho, Hernangomez

The Hornets haven’t changed their public stance about trading Kemba Walker, according to Rick Bonnell and Brendan Marks of The Charlotte Observer. In a conference call earlier today, GM Rich Cho emphasized that the team is open to offers but isn’t actively trying to deal its leading scorer.

“We’re not shopping Kemba, but it’s our job to listen,” Cho said. “It would take something really great to move him. We love Kemba. He’s a great player, All-Star caliber. It wouldn’t surprise me if we did do something, and it wouldn’t surprise me if we didn’t do something.”

The Hornets are frequent dealers near the deadline, acquiring Courtney Lee, Josh McRoberts and Mo Williams in recent years. Team owner Michael Jordan recently said he “would not trade (Walker) for anything but an All-Star player,” but financial considerations may affect that stance. Walker has one more season left at the bargain price of $12MM and will likely be seeking a max deal in the summer of 2019.

There’s more news today out of Charlotte:

  • Second-year forward Treveon Graham has been a pleasant surprise this season, but cap concerns may prevent the Hornets from keeping him in free agency, Bonnell writes in a separate story. Graham is making a little more than $1.3MM this year, but Charlotte has to be careful about any spending with more than $116MM in guaranteed money already committed for next season. “If I were a coach, Treveon Graham would be on my team every single time,” said teammate Marvin Williams. “I know [coach Steve Clifford] has a certain level of comfort with him, and we do, too, as players.”
  • Cho may have concerns about his future in Charlotte if the Hornets don’t make the playoffs, Bonnell adds in a mailbag column. Former Lakers GM and North Carolina alum Mitch Kupchak has been floated as a possible replacement, and Bonnell suggests ex-Cavaliers and Hawks GM Danny Ferry and Pistons GM Jeff Bower as well.
  • The Hornets are happy to take a chance on second-year center Willy Hernangomez, who was acquired today in a trade with the Knicks, according to a story on the team’s website. Hernangomez has found playing time hard to come by this season, but Charlotte is encouraged by the numbers he put up as a rookie. “We’re excited to add a player of Willy’s caliber to our team,” Cho said. “He showed last season that he can contribute when given the opportunity and we believe that the added depth he provides will benefit our frontcourt rotation.”

Mannix’s Latest: G. Hill, Hornets, Hawks, Suns

The Cavaliers continue to engage the Kings about a possible George Hill trade, sources tell Chris Mannix of Yahoo Sports. However, the Cavs would like to include both J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert in their package for Hill, and taking on multiple expensive non-expiring contracts doesn’t appeal to Sacramento. Meanwhile, the Kings are quietly looking to get a third team involved in a potential deal, according to Mannix.

Mannix’s latest trade rumor roundup features several more tidbits of interest related to Thursday’s deadline, so we’ll pass along the highlights…

  • The future of GM Rich Cho in Charlotte is uncertain, which may complicate the Hornets‘ deadline plans. According to Mannix, there are rumblings about former Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak being a candidate to join the Hornets’ front office in the offseason. Gery Woelfel of The Racine Journal Times wrote last week that Kupchak is considered likely to be hired by an Eastern Conference team this summer.
  • Some teams with interest in Marcus Smart view the Celtics‘ asking price of a first-round pick as “unrealistic,” says Mannix.
  • The Hawks have made “everyone” available, and while much has been written about the club’s veteran trade candidates, second-year swingman Taurean Prince is another player who has drawn interest, according to Mannix.
  • The Magic have shopped Mario Hezonja “hard” in recent days, per Mannix.
  • According to Mannix, the Suns are willing to move veterans like Tyson Chandler and Jared Dudley. Neither player’s contract is particularly team-friendly though, so it may be tough for Phoenix to find any value.
  • The Clippers say they’re okay with holding onto DeAndre Jordan and Lou Williams through the deadline, but rival clubs are skeptical, says Mannix.

Hornets Notes: Clifford, Cho, Walker

The Hornets will welcome head coach Steve Clifford back to the bench next week, Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer writes. The coach has been out of action with an undisclosed medical condition since early December.

Per Bonnell, The Observer has learned that Clifford has struggled with severe headaches since prior to the season and has been seeking to establish the best course of preventative treatment going forward with doctors.

When Clifford left his post, the Hornets were 8-13. Under the tutelage of associate head coach Stephen Silas, the squad went 7-11.

Clifford is expected to return for practice with the Hornets next Tuesday and make his first return to the sidelines on Wednesday night.

There’s more out of Charlotte tonight: