Brilliance. Just sheer brilliance.
In a stunning and surprising move, the Bobcats announced early Tuesday (around 1 a.m.) that the team had hired Rich Cho, the former Portland Trail Blazer general manager and Seattle SuperSonics/Oklahoma City Thunder assistant GM, as the new Charlotte Bobcats GM. To make room for the move, Rod Higgins was promoted from GM to President of Basketball Operations.
I haven't talked to a single person who isn't excited about this move, or anyone that thinks it isn't a good decision by the organization.
Prior to this move, the Bobcats were very traditional in their operations. Rod Higgins is a self-described "basketball guy," as is Michael Jordan, he says.
Rich Cho, on the other hand, is not.
Cho, a former Boeing engineer, has a law degree and is drastically different from the modus operandi we've seen in the past from the team. He's heavy on analytics, advanced stats and all that jazz -- but don't let that make you think he completely ignores everything else. Cho is quite smart and knows what he's doing, especially financially.
Stick with me through the jump.
Cho said today at his press conference that his main basketball philosophy, outside of building a team through the draft, free agency and trades, was "acquiring assets," to put it simplistically. And his track record has shown this. As an assistant GM with the Sonics/Thunder, Cho has proven his ability to help craft a rebuilding process by acquiring assets in the best interest of the team's future. He furthered this by drafting extremely well, picking Kevin Durant, Jeff Green, Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka, among many others. In Portland, he found himself in a much different situation, taking over the reins of a fringe playoff team with injury problems. He solidified the roster with the underrated free agency signing of Wesley Matthews and got the toughness the team needed in former Bobcats Gerald Wallace at the trade deadline.
But just because Cho can be a wizard on the phone with other teams, don't expect any overnight drastic improvements to the roster. Cho said as much, too, when he iterated with this:
It's not going to happen overnight. [...] It's going to be a process. The good thing is we do have some flexibility, cap-wise, coming up in the next few years; got some good young players in D.J. Augustin, D.J. White, Gerald Henderson and Tyrus [Thomas]. And we got three picks in the top 39 this year. So, we've got some flexibility and assets and we're look to capitalize on those.
One of the more interesting things Rich talked about at the presser was the comparison of this Bobcats team to the later Sonics team that traded Ray Allen. Like them, the Bobcats wanted to create sustained success, so they traded their star to get out of the rut of being a middle-of-the-road team. Further, Cho described being a middle-of-the-road team as "one of the worst things you can do in this league."
As far as the decision-making process, it'll still be very much a collaboration of minds before any conclusion is reached on any topic, as Rod emphatically said. The hierarchy will be as is, with Cho reporting to Rod and Rod reporting to MJ, all the while taking Paul Silas and the coaching staff's opinions into consideration.
And I think that's what's most exciting about this move. Rich Cho filled a hole that the Bobcats haven't filled in a long time. Higgins has always been an effective GM with trades and occasionally finding diamonds in the rough with draft picks, but his main weakness has always been the cap. Cho complements Higgins and Jordan's traditional basketball mindsets and brings his own special stylings to the table. He is a wizard with the cap and should be able to get the organization in the right position to get back on path for success in the future.
SOURCE: Charlotte Bobcats Rich Cho and Rod Higgins Press Conference transcript - 06/14/2011
Other articles of interest:
New Bobcats GM isn't aiming for 'middle of the road' | Rick Bonnell / Charlotte Observer
Bobcats brass believes Cho provides missing link - Mike Cranston / AP
Various reactions from around the 'Net:
Rick Bonnell - just read this
Zach Lowe (of Sports Illustrated) - "Never hurts to have a guy like Rich Cho in your front office, particularly around an owner like MJ. Smart hire."
Chris Mannix (of Sports Illustrated) - "Brilliant. Cho is a master cap guy. Big addition. Kudos to MJ, Higgins."
David Aldridge (of NBA.com and TNT) - "Very good hire in Charlotte, naming Rich Cho as GM to work with Rod Higgins, MJ, etc. Always a plus to have different perspectives in group."
Dr. E (of Bobcats Baseline) - "Love the Cho hiring for Bobcats, shows Jordan is growing as owner, looking outside his comfort zone for help."