Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 6/14/14
Owner Michael Jordan’s decision to give more power to general manager Rich Cho led to Rod Higgins leaving the Charlotte Hornets. The Hornets abruptly announced Higgins’ departure as president of basketball operations just past midnight Friday, two weeks before the June 26 draft. In an exclusive interview with the Charlotte Observer, Jordan said Friday that he recently offered Higgins a new contract and that they had agreed on financial terms. Then, about a week ago, Jordan told Higgins he wanted to rearrange some job responsibilities to better fit Higgins’ and Cho’s skill sets. “Rod’s strong points are working with the coaches and the trainers, traveling with the team,” Jordan said. “He was my buffer zone with the coaches. I didn’t want to overwhelm them with ideas, so I’d work with Rod on that.” Jordan said he wants Cho, with a background as an attorney, dealing more with budgets and managing the salary cap. “One of (Higgins’) strong points is not negotiating, leveraging teams,” Jordan said. “Sometimes when teams would call (proposing trades), they’d bypass Rod to get to Rich.” Higgins, with the franchise since 2007, teamed with Cho the last three years. Jordan said that arrangement led to some “confusion over who reported to whom. It created a contentious environment where I had to step in.” That’s when Jordan proposed these shifts in responsibilities, which Higgins considered a demotion. At that point, Jordan said he asked Higgins if they could wait until after the draft to make a change. “He chose to leave now,” Jordan said. Higgins, 54, has been a friend and colleague of Jordan’s for roughly 30 years. They played together with the Chicago Bulls in the mid-1980s. Jordan later hired Higgins to help him run the Washington Wizards’ basketball operation. Jordan said that made Friday’s parting extra difficult. “I had to make a decision about a brother,” Jordan said. “I hope he gets a soft landing and finds (the job) he wants.” Cho, 48, will now run the basketball operation, reporting to Jordan and team vice chairman Curtis Polk. Jordan said they will look to hire an assistant general manager so that Cho isn’t spread too thin.
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