As build up to the 2018 NBA Draft intensifies, Mitch Kupchak stated that as of now, it is “unlikely” that the Charlotte Hornets will trade the 11th overall pick. Kupchak answered this and more in a Tuesday morning press conference that gave insight as to what the team might do on Thursday night.
"I think it is unlikely that we would trade our pick right now." -- Kupchak. "I expect we would use our pick in the draft"— Rick Bonnell (@rick_bonnell) June 19, 2018
If we’re reading between the lines, this suggests that any offers for the 11th pick so far weren’t good enough for Kupchak’s liking, if any existed at all. That could certainly change between now and Thursday, but as of now, let’s take Kupchak at his word.
It could also be interpreted, as Rick Bonnell sees it, that Kemba Walker is sticking around:
That sounds -- and, yes, I'm interpreting -- as a message to Kemba not to stress out.— Rick Bonnell (@rick_bonnell) June 19, 2018
And, hey, that makes sense. If Charlotte wanted to trade up, they’d have to package another asset along with the 11th pick, and Walker is undoubtedly the team’s best asset. So contrary to what anonymous NBA ITKs are sharing on Twitter, the team doesn’t appear open to trading Walker. This is further reinforced by Kupchak’s comments on Chris Koeger’s recent podcast that he expects the Hornets to remain “competitive” next season (can’t remain competitive if your best player is traded away).
Kupchak also stated that they will take the best player available with the 11th pick, and that he expects it to be a guard or wing because all the good post players will be gone by that point.
Regarding the 55th pick, Kupchak hinted the team could opt to draft-and-stash an international prospect, adding that many second round picks taken that late don’t make NBA rosters so allowing said international prospect to develop overseas is the preferable option.
But maybe most revealing, and unsurprisingly, was that Kupchak stated he has the final say on draft picks, “with the exception of one person.”
This all but confirms what many of us concluded a long time ago: Michael Jordan has the final say on draft picks. This isn’t exclusive to the Hornets mind you, but given the team’s draft history since Jordan became majority owner, you can understand why this is less than exciting news.
While you think on that, here are few other tidbits from the presser:
- Kupchak said the team needs to add another backcourt player, but said there isn’t a “gaping hole” at the position.
- Kupchak believes Malik Monk and Dwayne Bacon will contribute next season.
- He said that while it’s difficult to evaluate Michael Porter Jr., he has all the medical information on him that he needs if by chance he were to slip.