The Charlotte Hornets have made significant progress in contract talks with Mitch Kupchak to become president of basketball operations and general manager, and a formal agreement is expected to be reached soon, league sources told ESPN.
Kupchak, who won four championships as the Los Angeles Lakers general manager, has been the focus of owner Michael Jordan's search process to replace ex-GM Rich Cho, whose contract wasn't renewed.
Kupchak will keep assistant general manager Buzz Peterson in a front-office role, and Kupchak ultimately will add his own personnel changes to the team's management and scouting structure, league sources said.
Jordan and Kupchak have had a long relationship built around their ties to the University of North Carolina and late Tar Heels coach Dean Smith.
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 for 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 became the Lakers' GM in 2000, and he engineered the Pau Gasol trade in 2008 that partnered Gasol with Kobe Bryant and led to consecutive NBA titles in 2009 and 2010. 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 ex-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.
Houston's Gersson Rosas and Philadelphia's Marc Eversley also interviewed for the Charlotte job, but Kupchak was the clear front-runner from the beginning of the process.