Rich Cho Press Conference Quotes - 05/04/16

by Quinton Wash

RICH CHO –  HORNETS EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT & GENERAL MANAGER

On the season:

“I’d like to first start off by recognizing Coach [Steve] Clifford and his entire coaching staff and the outstanding job they did this year. We had several new players, tons of injuries and a mid-season trade and that’s not an easy task for any coaching staff. And for them to get our group playing at such a high-level throughout the year is a testament to all the coaches and the work they put in.

Second, I’d like to commend all our players, who showed a ton of resilience throughout the year in the midst of all the injuries we had. One thing I did gather from all the exit interviews is one, they all want to be back, and two, none of them were satisfied that we just made the playoffs and won a few games, which was good to hear. While we were all really disappointed in the way the season ended, I thought overall we had a good season. At 48 wins, we had the largest win increase in the NBA from last year. We had a top-10 offense and a top-10 defense and only five other teams in the league had that distinction. We also changed the way we play offensively. As you know, we played a lot more four-out and shot a lot more threes. Offensively, on a point-per-possession basis, we went from 28th in the league last year to ninth this year. Our point differential went from 23 to nine as far as rank in the league. We shot a lot more threes this year. Last year we were 24th in the league, this year we were fourth as far as our three-point field goal attempts. The portion of threes that we shot was much higher this year, last year we were 24th in the league, this year fourth. And our three-point field goal percent, as you know, we were last in the league last year. That’s something we really emphasized this past offseason and this year we finished at eighth in the league at 36 percent.

We also saw, individually, a lot of improvement in the young guys. Kemba Walker was one of the most improved players in the league. Cody Zeller established himself as a solid starter in this league and Frank Kaminsky improved as the year went along. Nic Batum showed everyone why he is so coveted around the whole league. Marvin Williams had a career year, the first time he shot 40 percent from the three. Jeremy Lin showed why he is such a valuable two-position player and he helped us win a lot of games. Courtney Lee came in after the trade and showed us why we made the trade. He was really valuable for us at both ends of the floor.

Last but not least, I’d like to thank all the fans for all their support during the year. We were 30-11 at Time Warner Cable Arena and they’re a big reason why. I really think the future is bright here. With the playoff experience our guys got this year, we can build upon it and strive for even greater success next year.”

On players returning next year:

“It’s definitely a big emphasis to bring as many of the guys back as possible. As you know, it’s probably unrealistic to think we are going to have all 15 guys back. That’s just not the way that it happens in the NBA historically. But we do want to bring as many guys back as possible.”

On how big a piece Nic Batum is to the team:

“Nic [Batum] is a huge piece. He is our number one offseason priority. He knows that. I told him that in our exit interviews. We love having him here and he did a great job this year. He had a few injuries, but overall he did a great job on both ends of the floor. [He was] also great in the locker room and I think Nic wants to be here as well.”

On finding a balance between brining back players and possibly finding new additions:

“Well, kind of both. We’re not just going to stand back, necessarily. We want to improve the team as well. I think if you look at a lot of the better teams around the league like Golden State, San Antonio [and] Oklahoma City, one thing that’s helped them over the years is continuity and we want to maintain some sense of continuity. At the same time we don’t want to be complacent. We want to improve the team in any way we can as well.”

On if he feels they will be able to re-sign Nic Batum:

“Yeah, I hope so. You never know in free agency, but he is a priority for us and we hope to get something done with him. I hope he is here for many years to come.”

On if it sounds like Nic Batum wants to be back in Charlotte after his exit interview:

“He definitely wants to be here. I think he likes the city. He’s grown to like the city. As you know, he just had a child and his family like it here. He loves the coaching staff. He loves his teammates and I think he likes his GM. He wants to be here, we want him here and he’s a big priority for us.”

On the winning culture the Hornets have created and if players want to come back because of that:

“I think it’s a positive just that guys want to come back. Coach Clifford has really helped build a culture here; a culture of work and also having fun the way we play. I think Charlotte is really an underrated place to play. We’ve had the opportunity to add free agents over the past few years, starting with Al Jefferson. We were able to attract him. The following year, even though the signing didn’t work out, Lance Stephenson signed here. Gordon Hayward signed an offer sheet here when he had some other opportunities. And then last summer we were able to sign Jeremy Lin. So I think Charlotte’s become a nice free-agent destination that players around the league are noticing. A lot of it is, like you said, the culture and it’s a great city, a great place to play.”

On if there’s a particular position or player he’s targeting in free agency:

“I can’t really talk about specific free agents, but part of that will be dictated by what we get in the draft too. It’s going to kind of be a dynamic process. [We’ll] see what we get in the draft, see what the market bears for our free agents and for the other free agents around the league.”

On Michael Kidd-Gilchrist’s injury situation:

“Well, it’s always a concern.  With MKG, I know he’s going to work hard on his rehab. He’s been working hard with the medical staff here.  Both of those plays where he got injured were kind of freak plays.  He’s not going to stop playing hard because that’s who he is.  Hopefully he’ll stay healthy.”

On need for increased physicality and rebounding:

“I would concur with that [need].  It’s something that showed in the playoff series, but it’s something that we’ll address in the offseason.  There are a number of areas that we could improve and a lot of ways to improve through the draft, trades and free agency.  Like last offseason, we’ll improve in a number of ways.”

On difficulty of adding physicality:

“I think physicality is a hard thing to find.  Physicality plus skill is an even harder thing to find.  There are a number of guys around the league that we have our eyes on though.”

On difficulty of re-signing free agents in the prime or late prime of their careers:

“Well it’s going to be tricky because, without getting in to the cap minutiae, Jeremy Lin is a non-Bird free agent so to resign him we’d have to use cap room.  Marvin Williams is an early-Bird free agent.  There’s going to have to be a balance somewhere.  It’s a good thing that all these guys had good years.  It’s a testament to the players, our coaches and the player development program. It’s a good problem to have.”

On trying to set the roster this offseason versus maintaining flexibility for 2017 free-agent class:

“I think any time you make a trade or a free-agent signing you have to think short term and long term.  Those are both things we are going to take in to account for sure.”

On preparation for spike in Salary Cap:

“We are definitely prepared.  I have about 75 different scenarios here of how things could play out.  So we are looking at every possibility and have contingency plans for everything.”

On Patrick Ewing and what he means to the organization and his potential as a head coach in the NBA:

“Patrick, we love having him here on staff. I really hope he gets a chance to be a head coach in this league. He’s a good worker, he’s been with Cliff for a long time, and I think he’ll make a good head coach.  He’s a great mentor for our young guys, as well as our veterans, and he is a good voice in the locker room.  I know he’ll go interview in Sacramento and I know he’ll do well, so hopefully someone will give him a chance.”

On an update on where the organization is in preparation for assembling the Greensboro Swarm:

“We are in the process of compiling a shortlist for our Greensboro head coach job.  We are going to start off by Skyping 10-12 candidates and we’ll bring in about three or four in person [for interviews].  Those Skype interviews will start here in the next couple weeks.”

On hiring a head coach who will run a similar style as the Charlotte Hornets:

“Yeah, we will run the same system down in Greensboro that we run up here.  Ideally, we’ll have someone in place to help start that during summer league.”

On if a similar system and control over the team is the objective of the Greensboro Swarm:

“It’s a huge benefit.  So for example, we sent Aaron Harrison to the D-Leauge and we sent him to Oklahoma City [Blue] first, and then to Eerie [BayHawks].  When he went down there he had to learn totally new terminology and schemes.  If we had our own D-League team, it would’ve been the same sets offensively and defensively and would have made his transition much more seamless.”

On working with Steve Clifford in free agent recruiting:

“I think it’s a group effort.  It happens in a lot of different ways.  Sometimes we meet free agents in person together, sometimes we talk on the phone together or separately, but it’s definitely a group effort.  Coach Clifford does a wonderful job talking to the guys about how he is going to use them.  One thing with Cliff is he’s direct and honest.  I think guys really appreciate that.”

On his goal for improving the roster this offseason beyond just physicality:

“We could probably use a rim protector as well. Part of it depends on what happens in the draft and what the market is for free agents and we’ll go from there.”

On his initial thoughts on the draft:

“I think it’s going to be a good draft, though not as good as some in the past.  We are at [pick] 22 and we think we’ll get a good player there.”

On Cody Zeller’s development and projecting his offseason:

“One thing Cody is going to work on this summer is his shooting, his mid-range game and maybe pulling up beyond the arc also.  Cliff preferred him at the five spot this season, towards the end of the season especially.  We’ll see what happens in free agency and what we get in the draft and we’ll go from there.”

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