The Charlotte Hornets have been a surprise success this season, and the team’s general manager Mitch Kupchak told reporters that they plan to develop their young centers and grow a star.

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CHARLOTTE, North Carolina — Mitch Kupchak, the Charlotte Hornets’ general manager, is well aware that the team has yet to find a long-term solution at center.

But he’s not too concerned.

The goal, according to Kupchak, is to nurture the team’s three young centers with the hopes of at least one of them blossoming into a star in the next several years.

The Hornets chose Kai Jones, a Texas native, 19th overall this year. In the second round of the 2020 draft, the club also chose Duke’s Vernon Carey Jr. and Kentucky’s Nick Richards as centers.

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In a draft night deal with the Detroit Pistons, the Hornets acquired veteran center Mason Plumlee and the remaining two years and $16 million on his contract. While Kupchak said that Plumlee “would not be a terrible assumption” to start this season with guards LaMelo Ball and Terry Rozier, as well as forwards Gordon Hayward and Miles Bridges, it’s obvious that Plumlee is just a short-term solution.

“Our thinking process was to acquire a veteran under a fair deal and also give these young players a chance to develop a little bit,” Kupchak said. “Perhaps a year from now, they’ll be the people that we should’ve sought this year in free agency.”

The Hornets effectively eliminated themselves from the market for free-agent centers like Richaun Holmes, Jarrett Allen, Daniel Theis, and Nerlens Noel by acquiring Plumlee before to free agency.

The Hornets didn’t want to spend a lot of money on a center in free agency, according to Kupchak, since the solution might be right under his nose.

Carey and Richards had little play with the Hornets last season, but they were both successful with their G League club, the Greensboro Swarm. Carey recorded 16.0 points and 9.4 rebounds per game, while Richards averaged 17.0 points and 10.3 rebounds.

Cody Zeller and Bismack Biyombo were both unrestricted free agents as the Hornets entered free agency. Biyombo is still a free agent, while Zeller has signed with the Portland Trail Blazers.

Plumlee’s selection on draft night was partially a “bird in hand” tactic for Kupchak, who didn’t know whether the Hornets would be able to entice a top-tier center away from another club — or even be able to pay him if they wanted one.

“There are 30 teams in free agency, and there were a handful of centers available, but you have no idea where you rank,” Kupchak said. “There’s a lot of uncertainty going in because you don’t know what the market will be like until free agency starts. We thought we got someone [Plumlee] who is a seasoned veteran on a solid financial deal with two years left on his contract.”

Plumlee, according to Kupchak, is a “very selfless” player who can assist on both ends of the floor.

Last season, he came close to a double-double for the Pistons, averaging 10.4 points and a career-high 9.3 rebounds.

“When the opportunity to acquire Mason arose, we felt we had acquired a guy who can rebound the ball, provide some rim protection, and create some plays. He’s excellent at passing the ball and getting guys engaged from the top of the key “Kupchak said.

The “hard lifting,” according to Kupchak, is almost over, and he doesn’t anticipate any more major changes this offseason.

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