It's time for Portland to rebuild
Hello darkness my old friend...
The Charlotte Hornets hope they have found their man in former Lakers GM and UNC alumni Mitch Kupchak. Michael Jordan is banking heavily here on Mitch being able to create some championship contending team as Kupchak previously has done in LA. I'm glad Jordan is optimistic, because I certainly am not.
Mitch Kupchak served as Lakers GM for what seems like forever as his tenure started way back in 1986. Kupchak took over full basketball operations in 1994 and the Lakers did win four titles during his tenure. There were some great moves under Kupchak as well such as trading for Gary Payton and Karl Malone in '03, moving Shaq for Lamar Odom, Caron Butler, and picks, and of course stealing Pau Gasol from Memphis. Those were the good days for Laker fans…but Mitch's record is far from perfect. In the years leading up to his departure, there were pretty poor decisions made with Mitch's hands all over them. Let us not forget the treasure trove LA gave away for Dwight Howard and Steve Nash; Laker fans are also still hurting from the massive 5 year $72 million deal Loul Deng got to ride the bench. There's a tendency for him to mortgage the future to “win now” no matter the cost.
Not a whole lot of winning, that's for sure. This season has been a bust and a waste of another year of Kemba Walker. The Hornets payroll is 13th highest in the league and that got them a whopping 35 wins as of this article. Next year the payroll jumps to an eye watering 6th highest in the league and it's also the last year of Kemba's cheap contract. Start smashing the panic button Hornets fans.
The roster this year will largely carry over to next year and that's nothing to brag about. Nic Batum has been wildly inconsistent and isn't cheap; the second best player this year on the squad is an over 30 year old Dwight Howard. Dwight Howard. Let that sink in. Offensively and defensively Charlotte is middle of the pack, though the latter seems to be on the decline. None of this is what you want to hear when you're expected to build a contender.
If it were up to me, I'd have a massive fire sale and rebuild the correct way. Kemba Walker has value, as we saw this season with trade rumors constantly swirling. As for the rest of the roster, it would require a lot of creativity. Dwight Howard may have some value and if I were him, I'd rather be traded for scraps rather than work with Mitch again. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is hard to judge, Michael Carter Williams is a mess, Nic Batum is overpaid, Frank Kaminsky isn't worth much, and Cody Zeller is serviceable.
Yet, this is Mitch Kupchak I'm talking about here. He has never had to rebuild from scratch because LA never needed one. The Lakers had all the fandom needed to attract stars and players, plus the money to laugh at the luxury tax. Charlotte is a whole new monster, they're one of the lowest in average attendance via ESPN and also one of the lowest valuable franchises in the league. Mitch can't even use a line of NBA trophies or stories of success as the Hornets have only made the playoffs three times since 2004. 2004! I fully expect Mitch to double down on this roster, throw away the future picks, and expect to compete in a very top heavy East. For future use, just know that I am sorry Hornets fans. I know all too well what it's like to have a GM who you don't feel can lead the team to the promise land.