NBA

Michael Jordan’s decision to sell the Hornets leaves some team decisions in flux

Jun 17, 2023, 5:30 PM

FILE: Michael Jordan(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)...

FILE: Michael Jordan(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — The timing of Michael Jordan’s decision to sell his majority ownership stake in the Charlotte Hornets has left the organization in flux, with several looming key personnel decisions.

The Hornets have the No. 2 pick in the NBA draft on Thursday night. They also have some difficult decisions to make in free agency in early July, including whether to re-sign embattled restricted free agent Miles Bridges.

With the NBA’s Board of Governors unlikely to approve the team’s sale to an ownership group led by Gabe Plotkin and Rick Schnall until at least another month or two, the question becomes who will sign off on general manager Mitch Kupchak’s potentially franchise-altering decisions this summer.

Will it be Jordan, a lame duck majority owner? Or will the new ownership have a major input? Jordan will remain on as a minority owner after the sale is approved, so he still has a vested interest in the organization.

Bobby Marks, a front-office insider for ESPN, said the timing of the announcement makes this an unusual situation.

“Whether it’s Mitch or Michael making the decisions, I think you have to keep these guys from the new ownership group in the loop,” Marks said. “… At the end of the day, they don’t technically have a say in anything yet, but I would think they have to be part of the conversation, particularly when it comes to taking on future money.”

On the surface, the No. 2 pick wouldn’t be a complicated one, with the Hornets likely choosing between G League star Scoot Henderson and Alabama’s Brandon Miller.

But Marks said the trade rumors swirling around the New Orleans Pelicans potentially being open to moving former No. 1 overall pick Zion Williamson to secure the second or third pick in the draft complicates things for the Hornets.

Essentially, would a trade that has long-lasting implications sit well with new ownership?

“If they have a chance to move out of the two spot, what happens when you have salary involved that stretches past this year, which means money out of their pockets? I would think you would want to get (the new ownership group’s) blessing before taking on money like that,” Marks said.

ESPN commentator Jeff Van Gundy agrees.

“I would suspect there would be conversations about who they want to draft and sign before anything is finalized,” Van Gundy said.

Both Marks and Van Gundy believe the toughest decision ahead involves whether to re-sign Bridges.

A former first-round pick out of Michigan State, Bridges had a breakout season in 2021-22. He led the team in scoring and rebounding and appeared on the verge of a huge payday last summer before felony domestic violence charges put his career on hold.

The 25-year-old Bridges wound up pleading no contest to the charges and agreed to three years of probation. He missed all of last season.

The NBA ultimately determined Bridges will serve a 10-game suspension once he returns to the league. The league officially suspended him for 30 games, but determined 20 games of the suspension have been served because Bridges already missed all 82 games in 2022-23.

“In terms of the new owners you have to wonder, is that what you want your first signing to be?” Marks said.

Added Van Gundy: “There is more to that (decision) than just basketball.”

Van Gundy believes the Hornets are in good hands in terms of personnel decisions with Kupchak at the helm. He believes both Jordan and the new owners will rely heavily upon the longtime GM’s opinion moving forward during this time of transition.

As a player, Jordan was a six-time NBA Finals MVP with the Chicago Bulls, a 14-time All-Star and a two-time Olympic gold medalist. He’s in the conversation as the greatest basketball player of all time.

But he never approached that level of success as an owner. The Hornets were 423-600 in his 13 years as majority owner and never won a playoff series. Charlotte has failed to reach the playoffs seven straight seasons, the longest drought in the NBA.

Still, Van Gundy said he was surprised when reports first surfaced that Jordan was looking to sell the team.

“He always looked to be a hands-on owner,” Van Gundy said. “I know he has the fishing and the auto racing that he’s involved in, but I still didn’t expect him to get out of the NBA. And yet he looks like he is going to make a tidy profit, so good for him.”

Jordan purchased the team for $275 million in 2010 and will sell it for a reported $3 billion.

“You win with Michael Jordan the player,” Van Gundy added. “Those type of players will make you elite for a long time. You see it with (Nikola) Jokic. It’s hard to get those players, and when you do you are set up for a long period of time. … But the Hornets, they missed on a few high draft picks.”

After finishing 7-59 in the 2011-12 season, the Hornets failed to land the No. 1 pick in the lottery and missed out on star center Anthony Davis. Charlotte chose Michael Kidd-Gilchrist at No. 2, passing on Bradley Beal and Damian Lillard.

The Hornets also selected Cody Zeller fourth overall in 2013 over Giannis Antetokounmpo and Steven Adams, and swung and missed on top-10 picks Frank Kaminsky and Noah Vonleh in 2014 and 2015.

“It’s about the roster, the roster, the roster,” Van Gundy said. “The most important person in every organization is the person who picks the players.”

And the owner that signs off on them.

KSL 5 TV Live

NBA

Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson, talking about the proposed changes that are happening to downt...

Carole Mikita and Michael Houck, KSL TV

‘This plan is ambitious’: Salt Lake County Mayor Wilson talks about the revitalization of Salt Lake City

Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson spoke to KSL TV about all the proposed changes that could hit downtown Salt Lake City.

2 days ago

Rendering of a proposed "revitalization" district surrounding a renovated Delta Center. Salt Lake C...

Carter Williams, KSL.com

Salt Lake’s Delta Center zoning changes meet opposition from Planning Commission

Salt Lake City's planning commission voted to give a negative recommendation on proposed zoning changes tied to Smith Entertainment Group's Delta Center plan.

10 days ago

Image released as part of a drafted plan to reimagine downtown into an "experience zone." (Smith En...

Lindsay Aerts

SEG downtown plans include new hotel, housing, jumbotron and ‘experience’ plaza

Smith Entertainment Group executive Mike Maughan sat down for an interview with KSL's Lindsay Aerts on Monday to discuss the group's plans for downtown's revitalization.

12 days ago

Utah Jazz uniform rebrand for the 2024-25 and 2025-26 seasons. (Photo courtesy: Utah Jazz)...

Ben Anderson, KSL Sports

Jazz rebrand features new uniforms for 24-25, 25-26 seasons

The Utah Jazz have announced their new rebrand featuring four uniforms to be debuted during the 2024-25, and 2025-26 seasons.

17 days ago

FILE: Bill Walton is seen during the Ruffles NBA All-Star Celebrity Game during the 2022 NBA All-St...

Tim Reynolds, AP Basketball Writer

Bill Walton, Hall of Fame player who became a star broadcaster, dies at 71

Bill Walton, who starred for John Wooden’s UCLA Bruins before becoming one of the biggest stars of basketball broadcasting, has died.

26 days ago

Ryan Smith has applied to participate in a proposed revitalization zone that could include a new ar...

Carter Williams, KSL.com and Lindsay Aerts, KSL TV

Smith applies for revitalization partnership as Salt Lake City arena talks heat up

Ryan Smith has applied to participate in a proposed revitalization zone that could include a new arena in downtown Salt Lake City as he reportedly nears a deal to acquire the Arizona Coyotes.

2 months ago

Sponsored Articles

Photo courtesy of Artists of Ballet West...

Ballet West

The rising demand for ballet tickets: why they’re harder to get

Ballet West’s box office is experiencing demand they’ve never seen before, leaving many interested patrons unable to secure tickets they want.

Electrician repairing ceiling fan with lamps indoors...

Lighting Design

Stay cool this summer with ceiling fans

When used correctly, ceiling fans help circulate cool and warm air. They can also help you save on utilities.

Side view at diverse group of children sitting in row at school classroom and using laptops...

PC Laptops

5 internet safety tips for kids

Read these tips about internet safety for kids so that your children can use this tool for learning and discovery in positive ways.

Women hold card for scanning key card to access Photocopier Security system concept...

Les Olson

Why printer security should be top of mind for your business

Connected printers have vulnerable endpoints that are an easy target for cyber thieves. Protect your business with these tips.

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light up your home with these top lighting trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for hassle-free computer repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Michael Jordan’s decision to sell the Hornets leaves some team decisions in flux