Mitch Kupchak built an up-and-coming Charlotte Hornets team that is competing in a play-in game tonight against Atlanta. He drafted LaMelo Ball, Miles Bridges, and P.J. Washington. He brought in veterans like Terry Rozier and Kelly Oubre Jr. (and Gordon Hayward, not everything was a home run).
After four years at the helm in Charlotte and with his contract ending, buzz is growing that Kupchak, 67, could step away, reports Jake Fischer at Bleacher Report.
The uncertainty surrounding Kupchak has sparked the latest round of whispers in and around Charlotte that this may be Kupchak’s final year helming the Hornets’ front office. But to be fair, word of Kupchak’s potential departure—or a transition to more of an advisory role—has echoed among league personnel for each of the past few seasons. Still, there would seem to be more credence to the rumors this summer without an extension in place.
Who might replace Kupchak if he leaves? The smart money is on someone with University of North Carolina ties — as it is throughout the Hornets since Michael Jordan became owner — but Fischer lays out a couple of options.
There have been plenty of rumored potential replacements over the years, but the two most commonly discussed names are Buzz Peterson, Jordan’s college roommate at UNC and the Hornets’ assistant general manager since 2014, and Chicago Bulls general manager Marc Eversley, who began his career at Nike, the parent company of the Jordan Brand. Eversley interviewed for the general manager position in 2018, but the role went to Kupchak instead.
A new GM could shift the ground under coach James Borego a little, but he has a contract extension and has done a good job with a young roster that had injuries to key players. He’s not going anywhere short term, but long term he’s working for a GM that didn’t pick him.
Kupchak may sign a new contract and stay on for a few more years, but this is something to watch as we head into the offseason.