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Hornets general manager Mitch Kupchak steps down, will serve in advisory role in Charlotte

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — The Charlotte Hornets will begin a search for a new president of basketball operations after longtime NBA executive Mitch Kupchak stepped down on Monday.

The 69-year-old Kupchak, who has served as the team’s president of basketball operations and general manager since 2018, will transition into an advisory role once the new hire joins the organization.

Kupchak’s contact was set to expire after the season. He was originally hired by Michael Jordan, who sold the team to Rick Schnall and Gabe Plotkin last year.

“Mitch’s success as an NBA executive speaks for itself and we thank Mitch for all his work during his six years leading our basketball operations,” Hornets co-chairmen Schnall and Plotkin said in a joint statement. “His professionalism, integrity and commitment have been a major benefit to our franchise."

The Hornets had high expectations coming into the season. But they’re just 11-41 and headed toward an eighth straight season without securing a spot in the postseason.

Kupchak was a 10-time NBA champion as a player and executive with the Los Angeles Lakers but never could find that success in Charlotte. The Hornets are 176-259 since Kupchak took over, with only one winning season and never reaching the postseason.

Kupchak's departure from the main leadership role also creates questions about the future of head coach Steve Clifford, who is 38-96 in two seasons in his second stint with a team that's struggled with injuries.

Kupchak spent 17 years as the Lakers' lead basketball executive (2000-2017) where he won four NBA titles and six Western Conference championships. He played 10 seasons in the NBA with the Washington Bullets and Lakers.

“After signing my extension two years ago, the plan has always been for me to move to an advisory role after this season when my contract ends in June,” Kupchak said. “Now feels like the appropriate time to begin the search for the next leader of our basketball operations."

Kupchak completed three major trades before the deadline with the team, dealing P.J. Washington, Terry Rozier and Gordon Hayward as it looks toward rebuilding with a younger roster.

The Hornets host the Indiana Pacers on Monday night.

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Steve Reed, The Associated Press