Just over a week before one of the biggest drafts in the Charlotte Bobcats' short history, owner Michael Jordan has shaken up the front office.
The Bobcats announced late Monday they've hired former Portland general manager Rich Cho to the same position. Rod Higgins, who had held that job since 2007, was promoted to president of basketball operations.
Cho's new role comes three weeks after he was fired by the Trail Blazers and four months after he brokered a trade deadline deal with Higgins and Charlotte that sent Gerald Wallace to the Blazers.
The trade opened salary-cap space for Charlotte and yielded a first-round pick. The Bobcats on June 23 will pick ninth, 19th and 39th, and Jordan has said the draft is critical for Charlotte's future.
Higgins, 51, has served as Charlotte's GM the past four seasons. A former Bulls teammate of Jordan during the five-time MVP's rookie season in 1984-85, he will devote more of his time to assisting Jordan in the playoff-starved franchise's basketball operations.
Cho was hired by the Blazers in July 2010 to replace Kevin Pritchard before being abruptly dismissed by the team last month.
The Bobcats introduced Cho as general manager on Tuesday.
"This will give us a whole different area that we can open up our minds to," Higgins said. "He'll bring in some concepts and some stats and some analytics that we haven't done in the past. I think that's the beauty of it."
The expansion Bobcats have made the playoffs just once in their seven seasons and sunk to 34-48 this past season, during which Jordan fired coach Larry Brown and hired Paul Silas. Jordan, who has had the final say on basketball decisions since 2006, bought the team outright last year and is seemingly leaving his element in hiring Cho.
Jordan had brought in mostly confidants to the front office. Higgins was a former teammate and aide and team president Fred Whitfield is an old friend. Cho will give the Bobcats a fresh perspective as Jordan tries to make the money-losing team a winner.
It's a quick return to the NBA for the 45-year-old Cho, who was fired last month after less than a year on the job. Now he's charged by Jordan with making a success out of a franchise with one playoff appearance and no postseason victories in seven years.
"He's open to listening to new ideas. He's open to a lot of dialogue," Cho said of Jordan. "I really, really feel like he wants to win."
Cho acknowledged he "didn't see it coming" when the Blazers fired him. President Larry Miller said it was because of "chemistry issues," believed to be with owner Paul Allen. Cho declined to address the issue, saying he didn't want to "dwell on the past."
Born in Burma, Cho became the NBA's first Asian GM last year when he was hired away from Oklahoma City's front office. But he lasted less than a year despite being praised for the Wallace deal.
Cho, who has a law degree from Pepperdine, will assist Higgins in basketball decisions and handle the salary cap.
The Bobcats have already done much of their draft preparation, but will resume player workouts Wednesday with Cho expected to attend.
Higgins served as Golden State's general manager from 2004-07, working under then-Warriors vice president of basketball operations Chris Mullin. Before that, Higgins was the Wizards' assistant GM when Jordan ran the team from 2000-03.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.