Mitch Kupchak named new Hornets president and general manager

Mitch Kupchak has been named president and general manager of the Charlotte Hornets, the team announced Sunday.

Kupchak, who won four championships as the Los Angeles Lakers GM, has been the clear focus of owner Michael Jordan's search process to replace ex-GM Rich Cho, whose contract wasn't renewed.

"I'm excited to join the Hornets organization, and I want to thank Michael for this opportunity," Kupchak said in a statement. "I am well aware of the passion for basketball in Charlotte and throughout the entire state of North Carolinaā€ˇ, and I am confident that we can build the Hornets into a successful team that our great fans can be proud of."

Kupchak will keep assistant GM Buzz Peterson in a front-office role and ultimately add personnel changes to the management and scouting structure, league sources said.

Jordan and Kupchak have a longstanding relationship built around their ties to the University of North Carolina and late coach Dean Smith, for whom both played for.

"In every role and in every stop during his tenure in the NBA, Mitch Kupchak has brought the highest levels of success to his teams. He's a proven winner," Jordan said in a statement. "Having won championships as both a player and an executive, we have confidence that Mitch is the right person to lead our basketball operations, build a winning culture and bring sustained success to our organization, for our fans and for the city of Charlotte."

Kupchak inherits a capped-out roster that will miss the playoffs for a second consecutive year. Charlotte has a projected payroll of $119 million for the 2018-19 season with every player under contract except Michael Carter-Williams and Treveon Graham.

Charlotte's coach, Steve Clifford, has one year left on his contract. Kupchak has a relationship with Clifford from the coach's time on Mike D'Antoni's staff with the Lakers.

Kupchak won four championships as GM (2000, 2001, 2009 and 2010), including the second two titles after he made a franchise-changing trade with Memphis for Pau Gasol.

Kupchak agreed to a three-way deal with New Orleans and Houston that would've landed All-Star Chris Paul with the Lakers in 2011, but that deal was vetoed by former commissioner David Stern.

Kupchak was dismissed as GM in 2017, clearing the way for Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka to take over the Lakers basketball operations.

Kupchak played nine NBA seasons in Washington and Los Angeles, winning three titles as a player.

Houston's Gersson Rosas and Philadelphia's Marc Eversley also interviewed for the Charlotte job, but Kupchak was a clear early front-runner in the process.