Charlotte Hornets president of basketball operations Mitch Kupchak is stepping down to become an organizational adviser, clearing the way for the franchise to begin an immediate search for a new head of basketball operations, sources told ESPN on Monday morning.
There’s an expectation that new owners Rick Schnall and Gabe Plotkin will hire a new top basketball executive prior to the end of the regular season, which will allow Kupchak to remain in his day-to-day role until his successor is on board, sources said.
Kupchak, 69, would be completing a remarkably successful career that included 10 championships as a front-office executive and player.
The Hornets’ search is expected to focus on several sitting general managers, including Philadelphia’s Elton Brand, New Orleans’ Trajan Langdon, Cleveland’s Mike Gansey and the LA Clippers‘ Trent Redden, sources said. Brooklyn’s Jeff Peterson, Washington’s Travis Schlenk and Sacramento’s Wes Wilcox are among assistant GMs who will be in consideration, sources said. Peterson, Schlenk and Wilcox worked with the Atlanta Hawks when Schnall was one of the franchise’s minority owners.
Schnall and Plotkin have started spearheading significant change and upgrades in the Hornets’ infrastructure since purchasing a majority interest in the team from Michael Jordan for $3 billion in August.
The Hornets made several roster moves in recent weeks to start gathering draft assets and young players for a rebuild, including two future first-round picks in trades that sent out Terry Rozier and P.J. Washington. Rookie forward Brandon Miller has shown the promise of a future All-Star.
The franchise has also embarked on a $275 million arena renovation and plans for a new $60 million practice facility. The Hornets are 11-41 and have been largely decimated by injuries this season.
Kupchak will be completing his sixth season as Charlotte’s top basketball executive, a run that included the drafting of Miller and 2021 NBA Rookie of the Year and All-Star guard LaMelo Ball.
Before joining the Hornets in 2018, Kupchak had a decorated 30-year run in the Lakers’ front office — including 17 years as GM with four NBA championships and six Western Conference titles. Kupchak won seven titles as an executive, two as a Lakers player and one as a Washington player.