CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Hornets general manager Mitch Kupchak said in a conference call with local reporters last week that he doesn't regret not trading three-time All-Star Kemba Walker last year when he had a chance — and possibly could have gotten quality players or draft picks in return.
Kupchak, who’s been on the job for about 16 months after a successful stint with the Lakers, justified the decision to not move Walker last year by saying the team got point guard Terry Rozier in return in what amounted to be a rare double sign-and-trade with the Boston Celtics that was approved by the league.
A pair of 2020 second-round draft picks were also exchanged in the trade.
Kupchak said he feels like Rozier is a "lottery pick player" and added that he "doesn't regret the path we took for one second" in not trading Walker before he became an unrestricted free agent.
"I'm not sure that we could have done better six months or a year ago in a trade," Kupchak said.
Kupchak said having the All-Star game in Charlotte this past season did not factor into the team's decision not to trade the franchise's all-time leading scorer. Walker was a first-time All-Star starter in February.
Walker was named All-NBA third team this year. Rozier has never averaged over 11.3 points in four regular seasons, though he did average 16.5 points, 5.3 rebounds and 5.7 assists in the 2018 playoffs when Kyrie Irving was out hurt yet the Celtics pushed the Cavaliers to seven games in the Eastern Conference finals.
Rozier, 25, was named second-team All-ACC at Louisville as a senior when he averaged 17.1 points, 5.6 rebounds and 3.0 assists.
Kupchak says he's excited to see what Rozier can do, saying, "he is an up-and-coming player who has shown continued improvement, and we believe he can take that next step as a starting point guard in this league. We're glad to have him join our team."