Charlotte Hornets

Hornets GM Rich Cho: Team could trade up, trade down or trade out of NBA draft

Rich Cho talks about the NBA draft

Rich Cho, Charlotte Hornets executive vice president and general manager, talked about the team's pre-draft workouts and what they might do in the upcoming draft.
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Rich Cho, Charlotte Hornets executive vice president and general manager, talked about the team's pre-draft workouts and what they might do in the upcoming draft.

Charlotte Hornets general manager Rich Cho on Friday prepared fans for anything and everything in the upcoming NBA draft.

“We’re looking at a lot of different options: moving up, moving back, moving out of the draft altogether,” Cho said of what might happen Thursday night.

The Hornets pick 22nd overall in the first round and don’t have a second-round pick. The five workouts the Hornets have held (a sixth is planned for Sunday) have been about preparing for the draft and for the Hornets’ new NBA Development League franchise, the Greensboro Swarm.

Most of those participating in the Hornets’ workouts aren’t projected in the first round. Cho said it’s increasingly difficult to get prospects to audition if you have a pick in the bottom 10 of the first round.

“According to the agents there are about 35 guys who will be picked before No. 22. We know there are going to be only 21,” Cho said.

While that might be aggravating, it’s not worrisome, Cho said.

“At this point of the season we’ve already done our work, scouted a ton of games. We’ve done all the background work, the intel,” Cho said. “So we’ll be ready for the draft no matter who comes in for workouts and who doesn’t.”

Asked for an overview of this draft class, Cho said there are plenty of good wing players and some quality big men. The relative weakness is at point guard.

Cho said need probably won’t be a factor in who the Hornets draft because so much of the current roster is heading into free agency this summer.

“With eight free agents, I don’t know what’s going to happen, so we’re just trying to get more depth,” Cho said. “(Need) is a hard question to answer because we have so many free agents and don’t know how it’s going to play out.”

In that sense, the start of free agency July 1 is probably more important than this draft can be. Cho reiterated what he said shortly after the season , that re-signing small forward Nic Batum tops the list of priorities.

“We hope to meet with him as soon as free agency starts,” Cho said. “Our goal is to get something done with him.”

In addition to Batum, four other players who were in the Hornets’ rotation become unrestricted free agents – Marvin Williams, Jeremy Lin, Courtney Lee and Al Jefferson. Cho declined to rank those players in terms of priority.

The Greensboro Swarm will be one of three new expansion teams in the development league next season. Cho had hoped to hire the Swarm’s coach in time for that person to be in Orlando for Hornets summer league games in early July.

Cho offered the job to former NBA center Sean Rooks, but Rooks unexpectedly died shortly after interviewing with the Hornets.

“We had offered the job to Sean Rooks, who tragically passed away,” Cho said. “We’ve now regrouped, we have another set of interviews coming up the week after the draft. We’ll go from there.”

Bonnell: 704-358-5129; @rick_bonnell

NBA Draft

When/where: 7 p.m. Thursday, Barclays Center, Brooklyn, N.Y.

TV: ESPN

Top 5 selections: 1. Philadelphia, 2. L.A. Lakers, 3. Boston, 4. Phoenix, 5. Minnesota

Hornets selection: No. 22 (first round). Charlotte does not have a second-round pick.

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