The Brooklyn Nets lost a key front office executive Thursday ahead of a pivotal offseason, with assistant general manager Jeff Peterson joining the Charlotte Hornets as their head of basketball operations, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

Peterson joined the Nets in May 2019 after assistant general manager Trajan Langdon left to become the New Orleans Pelicans GM, and he quickly rose to a No. 2 position below Sean Marks. Brooklyn reportedly had strong interest in retaining the rising executive, with the possibility of a promotion floated within league circles, according to HoopsHype's Michael Scotto.

“Another plausible scenario that’s been floated out there within league circles is the possibility that maybe the Nets offer Peterson a title promotion to general manager with Marks remaining above him in the front office pecking order,” Scotto wrote. “For those who don’t know, Marks is listed as Brooklyn’s Alternate Governor and general manager, which I think is an important distinction.”

Peterson, 35, now becomes the NBA's youngest lead front office executive. Brooklyn will be tasked with finding a replacement alongside fellow assistant general manager Andy Birdsong.

After dealing Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving at last year's trade deadline, the Nets have underwhelmed this season with a core of Mikal Bridges, Cam Thomas, Cam Johnson, and Nic Claxton. The new-look squad has posted a 22-36 record, which is good for only 11th place in the Eastern Conference.

Those struggles led to an abrupt dismissal of head coach Jacque Vaughn less than one season into a four-year contract extension. It's also led to speculation Marks could be on the hot seat, a development that would make replacing Peterson even more difficult. However, Marks, who is in his seventh season as Brooklyn's GM, rebuffed those rumors.

“[Nets owner] Joe [Tsai] and I have always been in complete partnership,” he said. “Joe and I will make the decision [of hiring the next head coach] and he has given me no reason to believe that I won't be able to make that decision. We’ll take a lot of factors into account as we make this. We’ve got time, we’re not gonna be in a rush, there’s gonna be a robust search, and by the end of this I have no doubt that we’ll find the best person fit for this job.”

Marks made it clear that he made the coaching change with a playoff push in mind. The early returns have been highly disappointing, with the Nets posting a 1-3 record under interim head coach Kevin Ollie. Brooklyn holds the league's worst offense during that span, averaging just 92.8 points per game on 40.5 percent shooting.

A strong close to the regular season will be critical ahead of what is expected to be a busy offseason. With seven tradable first-round picks, the Nets have well-documented interest in pairing a star alongside Bridges. Marks will now add a front office search to his to-do list with Peterson bolting for Charlotte.