Not a lot of people would give up Los Angeles for the city of Charlotte. Look at every free agent ever. The goal is to be a Laker, not a Hornet. Enter Mitch Kupchak, who realized property tax is a thing and that the best food in the country –not up for debate– is in the Carolina’s. What Charlotte isn’t the best at, and hell neither are the Lakers as of late, is managing their money and players properly.
It’s not too far fetched to suggest that Charlotte is in the worst position in the league — as far as their financials relate to the amount of talent that’s actually on the team. A lot of big money tied into a lot of poor players, creating a team that’s just good enough to beat the bad teams (most of the time) but just bad enough to lose to the good teams (most of the time). Ultimately ending up sitting on the outside of the playoffs looking in while simultaneously wishing they had better odds to win the lottery. Please pick a side.
Due to the mishaps of the past, it’s hard to judge Kupchak based on this season alone. However, I’m satisfied with what he was actually able to do with what he was given. Let’s rewind back to Summer 2018. Kupchak’s first act of business was to clean slate and bring in his own staff. While former head coach, Steve Clifford, who is currently in the middle of a playoff series with the Toronto Raptors and did have the Orlando Magic on top of the Southeastern division this season. I think most Hornets fan and even Clifford can agree that it was time to part ways with the former staff. The team had pretty much been maxed out with what it could do under Clifford and it was time for change.
Enter Borrego and staff. Not the sexiest head coaching hire of the offseason, but I personally think Borrego has done a decent job in his full debut as a head coach, again, considering what he has been given. While Charlotte did just miss out on the playoffs –on literally the final day of the season– the Hornets were competitive all season long and actually improved their record from the previous season by three games. Take that for what it’s worth.
Everyone knew there weren’t going to be many offseason acquisitions in the Summer of 2018, we’re poor, it would be foolish to expect otherwise. But somehow, thanks to a little French persuasion we were able to bring in veteran guard and and a potential Hall of Famer one day in Tony Parker, who proved to be a valuable piece on the team for most of the season.
I’ll say that the draft was a success for now. Miles Bridges is looking like he will have a solid future in the NBA and Devonte Graham has the makings of a decent backup point guard. Now, Kupchak did trad Shai Gilgeous-Alexander for Bridges, and he currently has his Clippers mixed up in a playoff series against Golden St., and the big question later on will be if we should have passed on Michael Porter Jr. like we did. The jury will have to wait.
For many fans the biggest disappointment from Kupchak came at the trade deadline. The Hornets name was being thrown into numerous rumors and it was made clear that we were not moving Kemba Walker. So it was assumed somebody would be coming to help Walker and push us into the playoffs. As we all know, nothing happened. Again, I don’t mean to let Kupchak off the hook for not being able to get things done this past season, but realistically, I just don’t know what you expect to happen here.
The deal for Marc Gasol was all but done but there was some disagreement that prevented it from happen. Rumors have it that Memphis wanted the 2019 pick to have no protections or that they wanted Malik Monk who was playing good basketball at that moment in time. Gasol is a good player don’t get me wrong, but I’m glad we didn’t budge for the package that was being offered. I’m unconvinced the addition of Gasol would have truly upgraded us all that much. Maybe we sneak into the playoffs, but we would probably just be in the same position that Orlando is in right now. Down 3-1.
This seems like a pass or fail scenario to me. He would have not passed had he failed in the draft, and signed someone far less useful than Parker. Standing strong at the trade deadline was also a positive to me, I’m sure MJ was breathing down his neck to do something ridiculous like trading for Harrison Barnes.
This offseason will be a big one for Kupchak. Can he move off of these bad contracts? Will he make a move for another star in hopes of retaining Walker? Will he even re-sign Walker? Either way, half of the fan base will be upset.
Final Grade: C+ But like a 79.4 that your professor wont round up.