Coming just two weeks before the NBA Draft, this is a pretty unusual move by the Hornets. With one of the biggest days of the year looming just weeks away, now would seem to be a pretty poor time to start overhauling the front office and implementing a new vision.
After all, hasn't Higgins spent the past few weeks evaluating prospects and preparing for June 26? The press release says GM Rick Cho will continue reporting to vice-chairman Curtis Polk and team owner Michael Jordan, but more questions are raised than answered.
All of it leads to the likely case that Higgins was effectively fired, which is certainly how this situation feels. Given his personal friendship with Jordan, it's possible the team removed Higgins in order to give Cho a greater sense of autonomy.
Higgins has been the team's president of basketball operations since 2011, building the vast majority of the team that surprisingly reached the playoffs this spring, and is considered a good friend of Jordan. Some of his moves, like drafting Kemba Walker and signing Al Jefferson, have worked out quite well, but he was also been held back by questionable draft picks like Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Cody Zeller.
In general, it's not particularly difficult to see why the Hornets would want to move on from Higgins, but the rest of this situation is less easy to understand. From the language used -- Higgins is "stepping down" from his role -- to the absurd timing, many in Charlotte are likely wondering what the heck is going on this morning.
At the very least, we know that's what Dale Jr. is thinking: