Hornets set to hire Nets assistant GM Jeff Peterson as president of basketball operations

Roderick Boone, The Charlotte Observer on

Published in Basketball

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Mitch Kupchak’s replacement has been found.

The Charlotte Hornets have zeroed in on Brooklyn Nets assistant general manager Jeff Peterson and are working toward an agreement to hire him as their next president of basketball operations, league sources confirmed to the Charlotte Observer on Thursday. He’ll be tabbed to replace Kupchak, who’s moving into an advisory role after serving as the team’s president of basketball operations/general manager since 2018.

Peterson’s name has been connected with Charlotte dating back to the summer when word began first surfacing through the NBA’s back channels that Kupchak could be out after the 2023-24 season, especially if the Hornets didn’t turn things around and end the league’s longest playoff drought, which is at eight years and counting.

The 35-year-old rising executive has connections to Hornets co-owner and team governor Rick Schnall thanks to their days together in Atlanta. Schnall was a part-owner before getting a majority stake of the Hornets in August, and Peterson was Atlanta’s assistant GM for three years before leaving to go to New York and join the Nets under GM Sean Marks in 2019.

Peterson had a key role in getting Kyrie Irving and others to come to Brooklyn, assisting in the construction of the Nets. His career as an NBA executive was also shaped by his time playing college basketball at Iowa, Arkansas and Florida State, and helps him communicate with today’s athletes since he’s not far removed from being on the court.

Seth Curry spent a season-plus with the Nets and is familiar with Peterson.

“Young dude,” Curry told the Observer. “From my time in Brooklyn, just a lot of energy. Good dude, works hard obviously, He’s been moving up the ranks for a reason. My time around him was great, getting to know him and seeing his work ethic. If that’s the case (where he’s being hired), they are bringing him in for a reason and I’m looking forward to working with him.”


Even if Curry will technically be Peterson’s elder statesman.

“Yeah, he’s two years older than me,” Curry said with a smile. “It’s good, man. I’m old in the locker room, but that’s young in the front office. So, he’s bringing that energy, that work ethic. In my time in Brooklyn two years ago, he had that same energy, he was driven and really working hard. I think he’s got ties to the North Carolina area, too. So, that’s cool as well.”

Peterson’s impending arrival brings an end to Kupchak’s tenure as the Hornets’ chief decision maker behind now-minority owner Michael Jordan, who hired Kupchak to straighten things up after firing Rich Cho. Kupchak never turned the Hornets into a playoff team, though.

Under Kupchak, the Hornets didn’t make the actual 16-team postseason field, only advancing to the play-in tournament in 2021 and 2022 and getting blown out in the opening round each year.

Now, it’s on Peterson to finally right things and assemble a roster that can snap the fourth-longest playoff drought among America’s top four professional sports leagues.

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