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Sources: Hornets tab Peterson as top executive

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The Charlotte Hornets are planning to hire Brooklyn Nets executive Jeff Peterson as the franchise’s next head of basketball operations, and the sides expect to reach a contractual agreement soon, sources told ESPN on Thursday.

Peterson, 35, is completing a meteoric rise to oversee the Hornets’ front office and become tasked with revitalizing one of the league’s traditionally underperforming franchises. New owners Rick Schnall and Gabe Plotkin chose Peterson to replace Mitch Kupchak, who is moving from general manager into an advisory role with the Hornets.

Charlotte’s ownership is convinced of Peterson’s ability to be a long-term leader for the organization and deliver it the kind of player personnel acumen, relationships and deal-making ability with rival executives, player agents and players necessary to transform the Hornets into a formidable franchise.

Peterson — one of a dozen candidates who sources said had interviews with the Hornets’ ownership — has history with Schnall, who served as a minority owner for the Hawks, where Peterson rose from an intern to an assistant GM within four years. Peterson built a good professional relationship with Hornets coach Steve Clifford during their time with the Nets, where Clifford served as a coaching consultant in the 2021-22 season.

The Hornets started to gather up assets ahead of the February trade deadline, acquiring future first-round draft picks from the Heat and Mavericks.

Peterson joined Nets GM Sean Marks as an assistant GM in 2019 and became a trusted No. 2 on a staff that attracted Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in free agency and traded for James Harden.

He’s the second assistant GM from Marks’ front office to elevate into a GM-level role elsewhere. New Orleans GM Trajan Langdon left for a promotion with the Pelicans in 2019.

Peterson — a native of Springfield, Missouri — played college basketball in the Big Ten, SEC and ACC for Iowa, Arkansas and Florida State.

Schnall and Plotkin have started spearheading significant change and upgrades in the Hornets’ infrastructure since purchasing a majority interest in the team from Michael Jordan for $3 billion in August.

The Hornets made several roster moves ahead of the Feb. 8 trade deadline to start gathering draft assets and young players, including two future first-round picks in trades that sent out Terry Rozier and P.J. Washington. Rookie forward Brandon Miller — the No. 2 pick in last year’s NBA draft — has shown the promise of a future All-Star to go along with All-Star point guard LaMelo Ball.

The franchise has also embarked on a $275 million arena renovation and plans for a new $60 million practice facility. Before joining the Hornets in 2018, Kupchak had a decorated 30-year run in the Lakers‘ front office — including 17 years as GM with four NBA championships and six Western Conference titles. Kupchak won seven titles as an executive, two as a Lakers player and one as a Washington player.

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