Michael Jordan has done a poor job since joining the Charlotte staff. There are no arguments about it. He’s the best NBA player of all time, but he’s shown time and time again that he lacks the ability to evaluate talent and be an NBA executive. Here is a year by year breakdown of Jordan’s job at trying to turn Charlotte into a contender.
In 2006, Michael Jordan bought a minority stake in the Charlotte Bobcats, and took full control over basketball operations with the job title of “Managing Member of Basketball Operations.” His next move was drafting Adam Morrison with the 3rd overall pick. While not the strongest draft, he passed up on players such as Brandon Roy and Rudy Gay. The Bobcats made a small improvement on their previous season winning 7 more games, but the end result was still a futile 33-49 season. While Adam Morrison was already looking like a bust the Bobcats did improve, and now MJ gets to start the next season off on a step forward and an 8th overall draft pick.
Season Grade: D
He drafted Brandan Wright out of North Carolina and immediately traded him to Golden State for Jason Richardson and Jermareo Davidson. He then fired Bernie Bickerstaff and hired Dallas Maverick assistant Sam Vincet to be the head coach. Halfway through the season he traded Primoz Brezec and Walter Herrmann for Nazr Mohammed. The Bobcats did get a better scorer with Richardson, and Mohammed added some support on the boards, but the end result was more of the same. The Bobcats finished 32-50 and Jordan had enough of Sam Vincent and fired him after only one season.
Season Grade: D-
Jordan decided this year he wanted to really turn things around. This was the year Jordan really wanted to show his true ineptitude at evaluating talent. He wanted to bring in a coach that knew how to win. He got Larry Brown. After a successful run in Detroit and a not so successful year in New York, Larry Brown was here to turn the Bobcats into winners. He didn’t. Jordan took DJ Augustine with the 9th pick, right before Brook Lopez was taken the pick after. He decided he had enough of having a productive scorer in Jason Richardson, and 14 games into the season he shipped him off to Pheonix for Raja Bell and Boris Diaw. Then decided he wanted to just flat out waste money and traded Matt Carroll and Ryan Hollins to Dallas for DeSagana Diop and pick up his 5 year, 6 million a year contract. Diop never showed promise and rode the bottom of the bench for the next five years. Jordan’s decision making on this move was borderline traitorous to this struggling Charlotte franchise. A team that at the start of season actually had some promising pieces. Gerald Wallace was one of the best defensive players in the league and a borderline all-star. Raymond Felton was a competent starter and Emeka Okafor was averaging a double-double. Jordan wasn’t done though, he traded Adam Morrison and Shannon Brown for Vladamir Radmanovic, because why not improve just enough to fall out of the top 10 picks. This spot is called NBA purgatory and as you’ll see time and time again Jordan’s Hornets thrive in this area. The Bobcats finished 35-47 in what was starting to look like a complete disaster for the Michael Jordan era. Little did they know Jordan was just getting started.
Season Grade: F
With the 12th overall pick Jordan selected Gerald Henderson only a few picks before all-star guards Jrue Holiday and Jeff Teague. To Jordan’s credit Henderson turned into a competent scorer, so it wasn’t the worst pick possible. Jordan decided he wanted to make one big move before the season started and traded Emeka Okafor for Tyson Chandler. Which was a strange move due to the fact they just gave Okafor a six-year deal worth 72 million. Why not just sign someone else with that money if you’re just going to trade him for a defensive specialist? Early in the season Jordan made, in what will be a rare occurrence, a good trade. He dumped Radmanovic and Raja Bell to the Warriors for Stephen Jackson. This move was actually helpful for the Bobcats and Jackson added a much-needed source of offensive production to compliment first time all-star Gerald Wallace. Deciding that the Bobcats would become a defensive specialized team, Jordan traded Acie Law, Ronald Murray, and a 2014 1st round pick for rim protector Tyrus Thomas. In hindsight that first round pick turned into Jusuf Nurkic, but who cares about a silly thing like the future when you can limp into the playoffs in a weak Eastern Conference. Which they did on a 44-38 season. Earning themselves a 7-seed and a 4-0 sweep by Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic. With the huge step forward, and now being a playoff team, things are finally looking up for Jordan and the Bobcats.
Season Grade: C
Jordan decided he wanted this team to be his, so he bought the team and became the majority owner. Now with full control over everything Jordan can finally create a champion. Charlotte didn’t have a first-round pick this draft due to trading it in 2008 for the 20th from Denver. Which turned into Alexis Ajinca who averaged five minutes a game and was eventually traded to Dallas. That didn’t matter to Jordan though. Jordan decided to strengthen his playoff team with some veterans. He signed Shaun Livingston, and his former Wizards teammate Kwame Brown. Jordan was now hitting his stride when it came to incompetence. The only thing left to do was trade their best player, which he did. Jordan decided Gerald Wallace, the face of the franchise, wasn’t worth keeping around anymore so he traded him for Dante Cunningham, Sean Marks, Joel Pryzbilla, a 2011 and a 2014 first round pick. All this after deciding Larry Brown wasn’t good enough with a 9-19 start, and fired the entire coaching staff. Paul Silas took over and after finishing the season 34-48. Jordan decided to let the team he’s created just play basketball and they did anything but.
Season Grade: F
Jordan drafted Kemba Walker with the 9th pick in what would become the best move in franchise history. Knowing Jordan though, it’s one step forward one head first dive backwards when he decided to draft Tobias Harris with the 19th pick and immediately trade him along with Stephen Jackson in a three-way trade that would net the Bobcats Corey Maggette and Bismack Biyombo. Classic Jordan wheeling and dealing. In what could be considered the worst season in NBA history the Bobcats went 7-59. They won seven games, and ended the season on a 23-game losing streak. Paul Silas was fired at the end of the season. All was not lost though they did trade Corey Maggette for Ben Gordon and a first round pick, so that’s something mediocre at least.
Season Grade: Worst Season in NBA History Award. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.
After winning only seven games you’d think Jordan could at least leverage that into some valuable talent for the future in the upcoming draft. Well this is Michael Jordan we’re talking about and with players like Bradley Beal, Andre Drummond, and Damian Lillard on the board it’d be tough to miss with the second overall pick. That’s why Jordan took the future good, but not great at anything Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. He signed Denver assistant coach Mike Dunlap has head coach, and with Kemba Walker coming into his own this season things were turning around. It had to; you can’t get much worse than seven wins. Jordan signed Ramon Sessions, but other than that had a pretty quiet year in what would end in a 21-61 season. Mike Dunlap was fired, and for those keeping count that’s five different head coaches in seven years.
Season Grade: F
Jordan hired Steve Clifford and went into the 2013 draft with the 4th overall pick. In what would start a pattern of Jordan drafting underachieving Big 10 big men Jordan took Cody Zeller, passing up on future MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo. Jordan decided he wanted a playoff team again, and signed Al Jefferson. On the backs of emerging star Kemba Walker and Al Jefferson playing one of the best seasons of his career the Bobcats actually made the playoffs again finishing with a 43-39 record. This was a small victory because it only awarded them a 4-0 stomping by the Miami Lebron’s. Things were looking up though, Steve Clifford was showing he’s more than a competent coach, and Kemba Walker was becoming a true leader. Jordan’s team was finally looking like they had something.
Season Grade: C+
With a name change, going from the Bobcats to the Hornets, Jordan’s Charlotte team was finally in a position to become a competitive team, and finally eclipse the 50-win mark. Although, this is NBA executive Michael Jordan we’re talking about, and with progress comes immediate regression. Another top 10 pick another underachieving big man out of the Big 10. Jordan took Noah Vonleh at the 9th pick and decided to sign Lance Stephenson and Marvin Williams to multiyear deals. After going 33-49 Jordan actually made a decent move and traded Gerald Henderson and Noah Vonleh for Nicolas Batum. At this point Jordan has stagnated the Hornets into NBA purgatory, but with pieces like Walker, Batum, Williams, Jefferson, and Zeller, they had more than enough talent to be competitive in the weak East Conference. With a good draft pick, and a solid free agent signing they’re future could finally start looking bright.
Season Grade: D+
That good draft pick turned into Frank Kaminski, Jordan’s third underachieving Big 10 big man in a row. Missing out on the opportunity to have a backcourt of Kemba Walker and Devin Booker. That free agent signing turned into Jeremy Lin and Tyler Hansbrough. Jordan traded for Courtney Lee late in the season which did help with scoring. On the backs of now all-star Kemba Walker and a supporting staff of high scoring wings the Hornets made the playoffs securing a six seed. They took the Lebronless Heat to seven games, but they didn’t have enough star power to compete with Dwyane Wade and Hassan Whiteside. Now finally the Hornets are improving and carried it over into two seasons. Michael Jordan has finally seemed to figure things out and created a team with the pieces to become a future champion. Like I said earlier though with Jordan it’s one step forward, and one deep dive into the bottomless abyss.
Season Grade: B-
Jordan could smell blood in the water. He just knew all he had to do was use his superior basketball intellect, add a few more pieces, and the Hornets would make that jump to contender. He signed Roy Hibbert and Briant Roberts, and traded their first-round pick Malachi Richardson for three-point specialist Marco Belinelli. Jordan wasn’t done making questionable decisions. He decided it would be smart to sign 28-year-old Nicolas Batum to a 5 year, 120 million contract. On top of that he signed Cody Zeller to a 4 year 56 million extension because giant white guys are Jordan’s jam. It was obvious these were the players Jordan wanted to win with, and he wasn’t going to let anyone else have them. After a disappointing 36-46 season Jordan needed to make one big move to turn things back around. He thought it’d be a good idea to give up Miles Plumlee and Marco Belinelli for Dwight Howard, because when your team needs to turn things around you bring in Dwight Howard.
Season Grade: F
As this point the Hornets salary consists on 23m going to Dwight Howard, 22m going to a declining Nicolas Batum, 13m going to an aging Marvin Williams, 12m to Jordan’s big dawg Cody Zeller, 7m to Jeremy Lamb because why not, and 12m going to their only consistent player and legitimate star Kemba Walker. Why not throw 13m to a struggling Michael Kidd-Gilchrist just for shits and gigs? Jordan has successful built a team, just not a successful one. With the 11th pick Jordan takes Malik Monk two picks ahead of emerging star Donovan Mitchell. The Hornets got themselves a young shooter to help space the floor, so what do they do? They play Michael Carter-Williams and Jeremy Lamb instead. In what would turn into a familiar 36-46 season, Jordan decided Steve Clifford wasn’t the right guy to lead his team and fires him.
Season Grade: D-
This is it. The final year of Kemba Walker. The one truly good decision Jordan has made as an executive in Charlotte. This is the season they need to compete in order to convince their star that Charlotte is the place he can win a championship. Jordan hires former Kings assistant James Borrego to be the new head coach in what will hopefully be the guy that can win with the team Jordan has built. With the 11th pick they draft Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and immediately trade him for Miles Bridges. Ok not a bad move Miles Bridges has some real potential and his athletic ability can complement this Hornets team well. They dump that Dwight Howard contract to the Nets for Hamiduo Diallo and Timofey Mozgoz, and then trade Diallo and Mozgov for three second round picks. Clearing up space and giving themselves some attempts at adding pieces in the future. They also got Bismack Biyombo with those trades. A 17mil a year Bismack Biyombo. At this point it seems Jordan has a personal vendetta towards Charlotte. He also signed Tony Parker which while not a bad signing is incredibly questionable on Tony Parker’s part. Why be a veteran on a struggling team instead of joining an actual contender? In what has become a trend with the Hornets they decided to give Miles Bridges and Malik Monk limited minutes while routinely playing Jeremy Lamb and a rapidly declining Marvin Williams. In what seemed like a horrifying nightmare of a going away party for Kemba Walker the Hornets played just good enough to not get a top 10 pick, but just bad enough to not make the playoffs with a 39-43 record. They only did as good as they did because Kemba played at a truly elite level and showed he should be reaching much higher heights than Jordan’s Hornets can achieve. In what has become a minor victory for Jordan he did not offer Kemba the supermax and let him walk to an actual contender in the Boston Celtics.
Season Grade: D-
In 13 years as an executive for the Charlotte Hornets, Michael Jordan has done nothing, but waste talent and throw money around seemingly at random. Charlotte has been a team stuck in basketball purgatory, and now on the verge of a rebuild they will hopefully be able to turn things around. Unfortunately, with Jordan at the helm things don’t look bright for this franchise. Michael Jordan may be the greatest basketball of all time but he is a garbage NBA executive.