After an offseason rife with contradictions and puzzling decisions, the quotes from Borrego and Kupchak offer some solace that the team has a long term plan and isn’t going to make any haphazard move for short term gains. From Mitch Kupchak:
I’ve got to step back and look at where we’ve been and where we’re going. Chart out a course that gives us the best chance to build something that is sustainable for more than a year or two.
In Kupchak’s mind, that path was made more clear without Kemba Walker on a heavy contract. The team couldn’t justify paying him all that money to scrap and claw for a short playoff cameo, and they certainly couldn’t justify paying the luxury tax in that scenario.
Kupchak answered the criticisms of those suggesting the Hornets should’ve traded their star player if they didn’t intend to re-sign him. His explanation was that the team thought they had good odds of re-signing Walker back at the trade deadline, and none of the trade offers presented to them were worth enough to make them reconsider.
Elsewhere, James Borrego emphasized the need to develop the youth through playing time next season. PJ Washington is going to play a lot, and his play on the court will determine if that’s for the Hornets or for the Swarm. It may not lead to a lot of wins, but the youth movement will be in full effect next season.
That youth movement won’t lend itself to winning many games, and Kupchak knows that. That’s relieving, as there’s been an uneasy feeling among Hornets faithful that the organization will rush to throw together a semi-competitive albeit unsustainable roster. That won’t be the plan.
“Free-agent signings, for us, are not something we need to concentrate on going forward. We’re not going to get the ‘Big Fish.’ ” Kupchak said. “We have to create a culture where those kinds of players would want to come here. And, quite frankly, we’re not there yet.
“By and large, we’re talking about building something through the draft and savvy trades. Hopefully make good decisions and not get in a spot where we’re capped-out or have no youth and too many players who might be good enough to get you into the playoffs, but not advance,” Kupchak said.
“I can’t say, ‘We’re going to be in the playoffs next year or the year after.’ I don’t know ... I do know what’s under our control. And that’s our focus going forward.”
Check out Rick Bonnell’s piece on the Charlotte Observer for more quotes and information from the interviews.