News broke this week that Charlotte Hornets General Manager, Rich Cho, will not have his contract extended. There’s some good news, bad news here. Bad news first, Cho will no longer be 1 of the 30 NBA GM/Presidents that lead an organization. Good news, more time on the Food Blog!!!!
Cho, to put it lightly, is a highly capable and intelligent guy. He was an executive with the Seattle City Thunder for nearly a decade before being named the GM of the Trail Blazers, and subsequently the Bobcat/Hornets. Cho steered the ship from July of 2011, until this week (February 2018), that’s a significant amount of time at the helm. While there were some ups (Steve Clifford, Kemba Walker, 2 Playoff Appearances) and downs (Mike Dunlap, Ben Gordon, 2 1st Round Exits), Cho was seen as a competent manager throughout the league. So what was the final straw? We have a theory, and some evidence to support. Let’s go back a few years to see how it all unfolded.
The Orlando Magic had a successful run with Stan Van Gundy as the head coach. Check the following records from 2007-08 through 2011-12 seasons; 52-30, 59-23, 59-23, 52-30, and 37-29. Playoffs every season. A trip to the Finals! Then, it all went to hell. Otis Smith and Stan Van Gundy were both let go. Orlando hired Rob Hennigan, and the team has struggled ever since.
The Los Angeles Lakers traded for Dwight Howard in the Summer of 2012 to create a super team that included Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and Pau Gasol to go along with D12. That’s 4 Hall of Fame players and they limped into the playoffs only to lose in the 1st Round. Not great. The Lakers didn’t try to re-sign Dwight, and they’ve been in a tailspin ever since. Mitch Kupchak, the GM since 1994, was finally given his walking papers in 2017.
Dwight signed with the Houston Rockets that summer. Here’s where the story changes tune a little bit. The Rockets played well. They made it to the playoffs and had a deep run in Dwight’s 2nd year. With a near identical roster returning for Dwight’s 3rd season, they were poised to challenge for a Conference Championship again. HOWEVER, Kevin McHale was out after 11 games and the team won their last 3 games to get to the ever-coveted .500 mark. Now, what most people don’t know is that Dork Elvis (Daryl Morey) was nearly fired by then-owner Leslie Alexander. Face of the Franchise, James Harden, was not happy with the roster and the locker room. Morey saved his job by letting Dwight walk. That’s our story, and we’re sticking with it.
Fast forward a month or so and Dwight signs with his hometown Atlanta Hawks. In the 2014-15 season, the Hawks made it to the Eastern Conference Finals in the first time since, ever (yes, we know…they switched to the Eastern Conference from the Western Division after the 1969-70 season…beat it, nerd). The 2015-16 season, Atlanta regressed a step and lost in the Conference Semi Finals. Enter Dwight, to bolster the frontcourt, and they take ANOTHER step back. Not only that, but General Manager Wes Wilcox resigned in May of 2017! Travis Schlenk steps in and immediately sends Dwight to Charlotte for Marco Belinelli (recently bought out), Miles Plumlee and the 2nd Round pick that turned into Tyler Dorsey. Yes, you read all of that correctly.
In 2012, Dwight was the main piece of 12+picks, 4-team deal that had NBA Champions switching jerseys. Draft night, 2017…essentially nothing. Schlenk knew the deal. Let’s hope he breaks the curse and the Hawks aren’t in the cellar for the next 10 seasons.
So, here we are. February of 2018. Dwight has crossed paths with a few teams, head coaches and executives. What’s the common theme? They’ve all burned to the ground, except the Rockets…who were the only team with a healthy Hall of Famer ready to go.
So, we say, tread lightly, future Charlotte Hornets GM. You know what needs to be done. Start figuring out where you can send him before you get the job. As that would be the first question in the interview if we were MJ.