Lunch with Rich Cho

We were fortunate enough to be invited to lunch with Rich Cho (sidenote….my man LOVES his food….A LOT) last Wednesday at Upstream in Phillips Place along with At the Hive, Hive Talk Live, Trade Street Post, and Queen City Hoops. It was an extremely informative and delicious couple of hours. We spoke on all things Hornets and NBA!


Image via Charlotte Observer

1. How do you think Al will feel about coming off the bench in the future? (Bring Back the Buzz)

You know I haven’t really talked to him about it right now because I don’t really want to talk about the future with any of the guys yet until the exit interviews. I want them focused on this season and not have any distractions but that is something I am sure will talk about at the end of the season.

2. Going back to the Courtney Lee deal, did Memphis approach you? Did you approach them? (At the Hive)

In fairness to them, I’d rather not talk about the inside stuff because I really wouldn’t want other teams talking about the inside dealings. In general, some trades materialize fast and some trades can take 6 months to develop. I would say the (Courtney Lee trade happened) on the faster side, I would have to go back and look and see what day MKG got hurt but that was one of the catalysts for looking around and trying to find a wing player.

3. Can you tell us what it is like leading up to the trade deadline? What are your experiences day to day? And how has it changed throughout your career doing this….if it has changed at all? (Hive Talk Live)

The trade deadline is one of the busiest times of the year. The activity really depends on where you are as a team….how many injuries you have , how much depth you have, where you are in relation to the standings, whether or not your team feels like they can really make a push or you know lets try and regroup during the summer and maybe try and gather some assets. It really depends on the state of the team and how you feel like you can finish off the year. And obviously, whether or not you do a trade depends on how much you are willing to give up. You might be dying to do a trade but the other teams around the league want too much. The last two weeks of the trade deadline it is all trade deadline stuff. The week before that you are fielding calls but nothing gets really serious until the week before.

4. Charlotte seems like one of those teams that you do not hear a word until that week and then it is a flood of things that either happens or it was dead 4 weeks ago and it finally came out. (Trade Street Post)

Yeah, I don’t like stuff getting out. I just don’t think there is a lot of upside there. Like the Courtney Lee trade, you didn’t hear about that until after. The same with the Batum trade. The same with the Lamb deal. Like, lets say I am after Courtney Lee and it gets out and another team sees that and they are like ” Well s%&t, I’ll give up more than 2 seconds and PJ & Brian” and they call them and they are like “hey, we’ve got something we like better.” Well, then that’s not good for us. That is why I like to keep stuff on the low down

5. Do you think a lot of teams put it out there? There seems like there is always a trend with a lot of teams where the story always breaks out way early….do you think some of them leak that? (Bring Back the Buzz)

Yeah, to generate interest but what I don’t like is if I am dealing with another team and they get it out there that “Oh yeah, Charlotte offered so and so for their guy”. That doesn’t help us because then I have his agent calling “hey, are you guys trading so and so?” and then I gotta kinda have to weave through that.

*Laughs* That sounds like an awkward conversation (Bring Back the Buzz)

Yeah…well, like, I don’t want to lie to the agents but I can’t give him everything either. I can’t give him everything because he could call the other team and be like ” Gerald Henderson doesn’t want to come to Portland…you know he isn’t coming or Noah Vonleh doesn’t wanna come there” and then the other GM is like “How does that s*%t, why are you guys telling the agents…etc”. Then if you end up not doing the trade (it was all for nothing). That is why I don’t think it is productive to have things out there.

6. What has it been like for you watching Kemba’s growth this season? (At the Hive)

It has been great, Kemba has really taken another step in his productivity and it is really a testament to how hard he has worked these past few years….especially this past summer. I am really happy to see his game grow. He is playing terrific.

7. What are the moments during the season where you sit back and are like “yeah, this is a really great job?”…..or is it just all really stressful. (Hive Talk Live)

I don’t know if I have those moments *everyone laughs*. I think that in this job there is a lot of scrutiny….you’ve got fan scrutiny, you’ve got media scrutiny, you’ve got ownership scrutiny and I think it is important to not get too high with the highs and too low with the lows. Because there is a going to be a lot of ups and downs in the season and it is important to stay even keel and not overreact to losses or poor play. Also on the flip side, if you are playing really well it is important to stay humble.

8. Since it is such a stressful job what do you do to keep calm and manage the stress? (At the Hive)

I play a lot of tennis. I play a lot of hoops. I am not really a guy that gets too stressed out in the first place. But I would say it is a stressful job.

9. In hindsight, why don’t you think the trade with Lance Stephenson worked out and what was the biggest reason why it didn’t work out? If there is anything you could’ve done differently what would it have been? (Bring Back the Buzz)

First of all, it is important to realize not every trade works out. It’s like, all you guys have worked at different companies over the years and you bring in a new employee. Your HR department has done research on the employee, they interviewed great, you feel like that person is going to be a great fit and then for whatever reason it’s not a great fit and for whatever reason that employee moves on. It’s not that much different when we brought in Lance we really thought it was going to work out well and obviously it didn’t. I think the important thing to focus on is that we were able to turn Lance into Spencer and Lamb. In a way were almost able to sell high.

10. Lin seems to almost have come in and do what we hoped Stephenson would do. He has been a good counterpart to Kemba. I know you said you don’t like to talk about the future of players too early but is Lin, someone, you think you would like to hold on to? (Bring Back the Buzz)

I can’t really talk about free agency but you know we like Jeremy and I think he has done a good job for us.

11. What are some pieces of advice or pieces of wisdom that you have picked up along the way and hold close? (Hive Talk Live)

One was don’t get too high with the highs and too low with the lows. I have a couple general philosophies or quotes we try to live by. One thing is, I am huge on teamwork. A few years ago I got this tour of the Bill Gates foundation in Seattle, it is an amazing place. There was this big mural on the wall that said: “If you want to go fast go alone if you want to go far go together”. I wrote it down right away and brought it back to my staff for our scouting retreat the following year. Another quote is a Wayne Gretzky quote that we have at the bottom of out database “while everyone is looking at where the puck is I am focusing on where the puck will be”. That speaks to thinking outside the box and looking ahead.

12. Is there a particular D-League team that runs the Hornets style offense? (In reference to Aaron Harrison) (Queen City Hoops)

It is more a matter of open spot this time of the year. We are getting a D-League team next year and one of the big reasons is so we can run the same style offense and it can be a seamless transition with what we are doing here in Charlotte and what we are doing in Greensboro. We can’t really expect these other D-League teams to run our style of offense but when we have our own team we will do that. This particular assignment is kinda tough because a lot of teams are in the playoff hunt and they want to make sure their continuity is not upset and their coaches are used to their players.

13. With the China trip, the Greensboro Swarm, the All-Star Game, recent success, do you think we are slowly turning the corner of having the “small market stigma” and would that attract other players that wouldn’t normally come to a market like this because they’ve had this perception of us being some place the business side of their career couldn’t flourish? (Bring Back the Buzz)

I think we are really fortunate because Charlotte is a great city, maybe some players around the league aren’t as aware of Charlotte as they could be but I think all that exposure that you talked about definitely helps. At the same time, we have also shown that we can get some free agents….Big Al signed here, Lance signed here as a free agent even though it didn’t work out, Gordon Hayward signed as a free agent…obviously, Utah matched but that was really positive that he chose to sign here. I think that we can attract free agents, it is just a matter of getting the right ones.


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