Charlotte Hornets

Hornets to use 'draft and stash' strategy with 55th overall pick Arnoldas Kulboka

Charlotte Hornets general manager Mitch Kupchak says selling second-round picks might help the accounting department but not the basketball team.
Charlotte Hornets general manager Mitch Kupchak says selling second-round picks might help the accounting department but not the basketball team. AP

In his pre-draft news conference on Wednesday, Charlotte Hornets general manager Mitch Kupchak said it was a distinct possibility that the team could use its late second-round pick on a player in Europe who might stay abroad for another season or more.

On Thursday night, that became a reality, as the Hornets drafted Arnoldas Kulboka, a 6-foot-10 stretch forward from Lithuania, at the No. 55 spot. The team plans to use the "draft-and-stash" strategy with him.

"We had earmarked him as the only player that we thought might be available to take at 55 ..." Kupchak said. "He's 20 years old; he's got one really, really good skill — he can really shoot the ball."

Kulboka spent the majority of his past two seasons with Brose Bamberg, a German club team. He averaged 13.7 points and 3.9 rebounds for Lithuania in the 2017 FIBA U19 World Championship, and then played on loan for Orlandina, an Italian club team, for the 2017-18 season.

Kulboka averaged nine points and four rebounds for Orlandina, shooting 37 percent on 3-pointers and 86 percent on free throws. He also made his debut for the Lithuanian Senior National Team in February's FIBA qualifying window.

The forward also entered the 2017 NBA draft, but withdrew his name before the deadline. Ahead of the 2018 draft, he worked out for a few teams, including the Indiana Pacers and Los Angeles Lakers. At the NBA Global Camp this month, Kulboka scored 15 points on eight shots in a five-on-five scrimmage.

Don't expect to see him in a Hornets jersey in the near future, though.

"He's got a buyout that's manageable, but we've talked to his representative ..." Kupchak said. "At least right now, the plan is to keep him over there and hopefully watch him develop and then, when he's ready, bring him back over here and see how good he is."

Kulboka was the fourth player drafted by the Hornets on Thursday night. The team also drafted Michigan State's Miles Bridges (12th overall), Kansas' Devonte' Graham (34th) and Kentucky's Hamidou Diallo (45th). Diallo was picked by on behalf of the Hornets by the Brooklyn Nets as a part of Wednesday's Dwight Howard trade, and then traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder by the Hornets.

Chapel Fowler: 704-358-5612; @chapelfowler
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