Mitch Kupchak out as Hornets' president of basketball operations

Mitch Kupchak
Mitch Kupchak / Michael Reaves/GettyImages

Before the NBA’s trade deadline, we got a little hidden nugget from John Hollinger of the Athletic, hinting that the new Hornets owners were keen to make changes to the front office. And now just days after the deadline, the first major domino has fallen.

Early Monday morning, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported that Hornets President of Basketball Operations is stepping down to become an organizational advisor. This is likely a somewhat polite way of honoring the legendary Kupchak without firing him, but it was clear that owners, Rick Schnall and Gabe Plotkin want to bring in their own people to run the team and the day-to-day operations of the franchise.

Early indications are the owners would like to hire a new President and GM right away, before the end of the season. But this is obviously not a process they want to rush, and Kupchak is certainly capable of fulfilling the role until the end of the season - or as long as needed.

Why keep Kupchak on at all?

This has been a long time coming, and right up there with Kyle Lowry’s buyout and deal with the Sixers, one of the worst secrets in the NBA. Kupchak has been an excellent NBA executive for a long time, and though his Charlotte tenure wasn’t great, he still has endless experience and acumen. Keeping him on in an advisory role is a good business move.

He can hold the fort capably, and be able to help and collaborate with the new regime, whenever they come in. The trade deadline moves were good, and indicate a positive direction for the franchise going forward, so seemingly Mitch is at least on board.

He should be a good resource to keep, who can help with the coming transition in a number of ways. At 69 years old, he’s already led an amazing career, and taking on a somewhat less intensive role is probably best for all parties involved.

Who will be the next President of Basketball Operations?

The search for Kupchak’s replacement will be a huge story to follow this season and this is one of the biggest decisions the new owners will make in rebuilding the team in their vision.

It’s too early in the process to know which way the owners are leaning, but some names mentioned by Woj as possible replacements include Elton Brand of the Sixers, Trajan Langdon of the Pelicans, Mike Gansey of the Cavaliers, Trent Redden of the Clippers, Jeff Peterson of the Nets, Travis Schlenk of the Hawks, and Wes Wilcox of the Kings.