Mitch Kupchak is confident Michael Jordan’s Hornets will become an NBA playoff team again soon Deion Sanders 49ers Jersey
, possibly even next season.
But just how he intends to help Charlotte get there remains unclear – for now.
The Hornets new general manager and president of basketball operations said during his introductory news conference Tuesday this is a job he coveted. But the 63-year-old Kupchak was vague when it came to pressing questions surrounding the futures of the franchise’s top player Kemba Walker, eight-time All-Star center Dwight Howard and coach Steve Clifford – as well as whether the team needs to undergo a complete rebuilding process.
”I’m limited in my knowledge other than what I have seen on TV and learned in the last 48 hours,” said Kupchak, who accepted the job on Sunday. No details have been released about the terms of his contract.
He helped the Los Angeles Lakers win seven NBA titles and has spent 30 years as a front office executive, including 17 as the Lakers’ general manager.
He hopes to build a winner in Charlotte too – with Jordan’s help.
”I don’t know why I wouldn’t seek out his opinion,” said Kupchak, adding that Jordan is arguably the greatest player ever to play the game.
Kupchak said Jordan is still very passionate about not only the NBA game, but the college game as well – and keeps up on the talent.
”I hope that most of the time we are on the same page and there may be a couple of times we are not,” Kupchak said. ”He may look at me and say, `You know Mitch, we don’t see eye-to-eye on this but you do what is best.’ Or he maybe he will look at me and say, `Mitch we don’t see eye-to-eye on this one but this is my decision.’ And that is his right as an owner.”
In Los Angeles, Kupchak inherited a roster from Jerry West where he acknowledged ”the cupboards were full.”
Behind Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal, the Lakers became a dynasty.
Things are little different in Charlotte Anthony Miller Bears Jersey
, which lacks the glitz of a big market like Los Angeles, the talent of a Golden State and the history of franchise like Boston.
Kupchak inherits a team with 10 players under contract next season leaving the Hornets close the luxury tax threshold – making turning over the roster a little difficult.
Charlotte’s most tradable commodity is Walker, who has played in the last two All-Star games and is making just $12 million a year with one season left on his contract before becoming a free agent.
Walker is the franchise’s all-time leading scorer, but he’s also stated that he would prefer to win playoff games rather than go through a rebuilding process.
”I like a player that doesn’t want to be somewhere where they’re going to lose,” Kupchak said. ” … I know he’s had an All-Star year. It’s tough to answer the question with any certainty.”
He said the same goes for the 32-year-old Howard, who rebounded from two lackluster seasons in Houston and Atlanta with a solid campaign this season for the Hornets averaging 16.7 points, 12.4 rebound and 1.6 blocks in 80 games played.
Howard played for Kupchak in Los Angeles when he was GM there, and Kupchak said he didn’t want the big man to leave for Houston as a free agent.
He said he’s watched Howard play recently and likes what he’s seen.
”He is as lively and energetic as I have seen him play in years and years and years,” Kupchak said. ”I know next year is the last year of his deal so there is some uncertainty with some of the players going forward.”
There is also uncertainty surrounding Clifford’s future.
Charlotte has made the playoffs twice in five seasons under Clifford, but has never advanced out of the first round. Clifford missed a large portion of this past season dealing with headaches related to sleep deprivation.
Clifford spent one season with the Lakers and Kupchak felt at that time he had head coaching potential.
But when asked directly about Clifford’s future with the Hornets, Kupchak struck a popular refrain, saying he just got the job two days ago, ”so in all fairness I have not had the time” to assess.
As for whether the Hornets need to rebuild, Kupchak said Derick Brassard Penguins Jersey
, ”I don’t know if that is the right word or not. I think our actions in the next three months might answer that question.”
The toughest moment of Mike Leake’s stellar night was missing a chance for a shutout.
Leake pitched eight sparkling innings, Mitch Haniger drove in three runs and the Seattle Mariners snapped a season-high five-game losing streak with a 7-2 victory over the Boston Red Sox on Saturday.
With closer Edwin Diaz needing some work, Seattle manager Scott Servais had to deliver the bad news to Leake.
”Very tough, very, very hard,” Servais said. ”I told him: `Mike, 99 percent of the time I wouldn’t take you out of this game, but we need to get Eddie out there.”’
Leake (8-4) gave up three singles, struck out five and walked two six days after he allowed five runs and took the loss against the Red Sox at Safeco Field. Diaz gave up two runs in the ninth.
”I wanted it,” Leake said. ”I was ready, but they wanted to give Diaz work, so there’s no fight there.”
His last shutout was on Sept. 30, 2015, for San Francisco against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Nelson Cruz had three hits and scored twice a night after hitting two homers and driving in seven runs for Seattle Blake Martinez Jersey
, which went on its skid after beating Boston two straight at home last weekend.
J.D. Martinez had two singles for Boston after going 4 for 5 with five RBIs when the Red Sox collected a season-high 20 hits in a 14-10 victory Friday.
Eduardo Rodriguez (9-2) gave up five runs, four earned, in four innings, snapping his personal six-game win streak. The Red Sox were 13-1 in his starts this season.
”Today was just the command with the pitches, you know what I mean?” he said.
Red Sox manager Alex Cora said Rodriguez’s lack of command with his cutter was the difference from last weekend when he was solid against the Mariners. He said both of Haniger’s doubles came off the pitch.
”Those two pitches, compared to last week, last week we attack them away, Eduardo did and tonight he tried to go in and it didn’t work,” he said.
Playing on a cool, misty night, the Mariners managed to close out the Red Sox after blowing two five-run leads during their slide, including Friday.
Seattle broke it open with three runs in the fourth. Haniger made it 4-0 with a two-out, two-run double off the Green Monster. He scored from second on Kyle Seager’s infield hit when Rodriguez slipped covering first and turned late for the plate.
Haniger also had an RBI double in the first.
Mariners: SS Jean Segura missed his third straight game with a right forearm infection. ”The swelling has gone down quite a bit,” Servais said. The plan was for him to hit and field to see where he’d be for Sunday afternoon’s game.
Red Sox: Cora said LHP Drew Pomeranz (10-day DL Mitchell Trubisky Jersey
, left biceps tendinitis) felt better after throwing off a mound on Friday. He threw lightly on Saturday and Cora said he ”might do another bullpen” on Monday. … 3B Rafael Devers fouled a ball of his foot and came out after completing his at-bat. ”He’s OK,” Cora said.
Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts and shortstop Xander Bogaerts were both out of the lineup.
Cora said Betts was ”a little bit under the weather. He had no energy.” The All-Star outfielder entered Saturday with a .342 average, second-best in the majors, with 19 homers and 39 RBIs.
Bogaerts left Friday’s game after he sprained his left index finger on a headfirst slide to second.
For the second straight game, both starters had faced the same team in their previous start. Rodriguez earned the win, allowing only two runs in six innings last Sunday in Seattle.
”It does make it a little bit more challenging for the pitcher in my mind,” Servais said before the game.
Cora said: ”You have to make an adjustment just to make an adjustment.”
Mariners: LHP Marco Gonzales (7-4, 3.80 ERA) is slated to start the series finale Sunday. He’s 6-2 with a 2.88 ERA in his last 11 starts.
Red Sox: LHP Chris Sale (6-4, 2.74) is set to start. The ace has allowed one or no runs in nine of 17 starts this season and is 5-1 with a 2.09 ERA in his career against Seattle.