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Struggling Charlotte Hornets fire GM Rich Cho

By Steve Reed

AP Sports Writer

The struggling Hornets have shaken up their front office, firing general manager Rich Cho on Tuesday.

“Rich worked tirelessly on behalf of our team and instituted a number of management tools that have benefited our organization,” Hornets owner Michael Jordan said in a release. “We are deeply committed to our fans and to the city of Charlotte to provide a consistent winner on the court. The search will now begin for our next head of basketball operations who will help us achieve that goal.”

Charlotte is 24-33 and on the verge of failing to reach the playoffs for the second straight season.

Jordan’s college teammate Buzz Peterson was hired last year as the team’s assistant general manager is a potential replacement. Former Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak could be another candidate to join Peterson in the front office in some capacity.

Cho was hired as GM in 2011 and assumed day-to-day responsibilities of the basketball operations department in 2014.

“I will always be grateful for my experience with the franchise,” Cho said.

Cho and the Hornets have struggled with building a consistent winner.

He was responsible for drafting All-Star point guard Kemba Walker in 2011, but the team’s inability to get the No. 1 pick in the 2012 draft after a 7-59 season proved to be a backbreaker. Instead of getting perennial All-Star center Anthony Davis, the Hornets settled for Michael Kidd-Gilchrist with the No. 2 pick, a significant dropoff in talent.

Charlotte missed on second-round pick Jeffery Taylor from Sweden in 2012.

They took Cody Zeller, now a backup center, fourth overall in 2013, Noah Vonleh ninth in 2014 and Frank Kaminsky ninth overall in 2015. Cho drafted Malik Monk in the first round last year, but he barely sees any action for Charlotte because of concerns about his defense.

Cho traded this past offseason for center Dwight Howard, who has improved his play and had a decent season for the Hornets. However, the five-year contract given to Nic Batum last year has left the Hornets strapped under the salary cap.

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