Hornets

The Kupchak Era Has Killed the Hornets’ Buzz

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“Lack of action is why an unwanted situation persists.”

-Steven Redhead

A couple of weeks ago, I was taking notes for an article about this strange new feeling of hope around the Charlotte Hornets.

Things were going better than I can ever remember, at least in my time of being a fan of this team. The vibes were buzzing (pun intended), and the offense was flowing despite extended key losses in Terry Rozier and Gordon Hayward. The defense was as good as it’s ever going to be with LaMelo Ball as your point-of-attack defender. Miles Bridges was back and astonishingly appeared to pick up where he left off 19 months ago.

The Hornets had a bright young star showing us regular flashes of his superstar potential, scoring from all 3 levels. Oh, and he locked up two of the greatest scoring guards of all time (Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving) in his possessions against them.

And, my word, LaMelo looked like a legitimate MVP candidate.

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With LaMelo going down for weeks if not months, on a typical team, of course losing your best player would hurt. The difference is when everyone else is playing to the standard the Hornets are playing at right now, you could expect them to coast, without giving up too much of the ground gained by their superstar.

But it’s different for the Hornets. Our backup point guard, the most important position in all of basketball, is Theo Maledon.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a massive fan of what Theo brings to the table, and he belongs on an NBA roster. But not as the Hornets’ starting point guard. This brings up the seemingly age-old discussion for Hornets fans. The constant inaction, laziness and incompetency of the front office.

Time and again, we have been let down — even had seasons destroyed — by injuries. Injuries that typically wouldn’t have a major effect on other teams’ seasons. So why does it affect this franchise more than any others? Because of the reactive attitude this front office has. It’s a disease.

Time and again, we wait for things to happen for us — or more often to us — rather than take the prerogative, show some initiative and get things done. There were several solid backup points guards on the table this past offseason for a mid-level exception or less: D’Angelo Russell, Gabe Vincent, Dennis Schroder, Jevon Carter, Ayo Dosunmu, Reggie Jackson, Russell Westbrook. Just to name a few.

In 3 years, this is the totality of the roster moves the Hornets have made:

  • 10/11/23: Cut Kai Jones.
  • 2/9/23: Traded Mason Plumlee and Jalen McDaniels for Reggie Jackson (who was immediately cut), and Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk. Oh, and of course the all-important second-round picks in 2027 and 2028. Five years from now. For an elite backup center, and an elite 3&D wing.
    • These happen to be two of the most in-demand luxuries in the NBA right now. But we couldn’t get more than a couple of seconds and cap relief. Because the Hornets reportedly didn’t pick up the phone until deadline day. By that point, anyone willing to give up anything of value for those positions had already gotten their guy.
  • 3/2/22: Signed Isaiah Thomas to a 10-day contract.
  • 2/10/22: Traded Ish Smith, Vernon Carey Jr., and a second-round pick for Montrezl Harrell, who left that very next offseason, despite being the Hornets’ only ‘real’ center.

Yet, here we are again: evaluating talent for a draft eight months away. If this team is serious about competing, relinquishing the title of being a ‘poverty franchise’, and freeing ourselves from being the but of every joke, then the front office’s attitude needs to flip from reactive to proactive. We all saw this coming.

If this new ownership is serious about turning this into a championship team, and not just using this as an investment, it’s time to let go of just about everybody in this front office.

They had their chance, and they did nothing with it.

About Nic Thomas

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