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#pounditMonday, August 2, 2021

Articles tagged: Charlotte Hornets

LiAngelo Ball could sign with Hornets?

LiAngelo Ball

The Charlotte Hornets may be on their way to collecting all of the Infinity Stones this offseason.

Hornets guard Devonte’ Graham posted a video to Instagram on Friday of a workout at the team facility. In Graham’s video, LiAngelo Ball was spotted in the room wearing Hornets gear. Take a look:

Ball’s younger brother LaMelo stars for the Hornets. A workout is obviously far from a guarantee that a team will sign a player. But LiAngelo’s family ties certainly have to help, as it is not unheard-of for teams to pair their star player with a less-heralded brother (e.g. Thanasis Antetokounmpo, Zoran Dragic, etc.).

LiAngelo briefly signed with the Detroit Pistons for training camp last year but got waived without even appearing in a preseason game for them. It is also worth noting that eldest Ball brother Lonzo is a restricted free agent this offseason too. Thus, father LaVar’s dream scenario of having all three of his sons play on the same NBA team may be more realistic than you think.

Report: Celtics, Hornets working on Gordon Hayward sign-and-trade

Gordon Hayward

Gordon Hayward has agreed to sign a four-year contract with the Charlotte Hornets after opting out of his final year with with the Boston Celtics. However, Hayward’s former team is still trying to get something out of the deal.

The Celtics and Hornets are working on a sign-and-trade for Hayward that would allow Boston to land a trade exception, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports. The Hornets are also trying to find a third team to take on the $27 million remaining on Nicolas Batum’s contract so they don’t have to waive-and-stretch the 31-year-old guard.

It makes sense for Boston to want to get something out of the deal. Hayward has committed to walking away anyway, and his farewell note made it sound like he is relieved to be leaving the Celtics. If Boston and Charlotte can work out a sign-and-trade, the Celtics will at least get some salary cap space to use elsewhere.

Hayward struggled with injuries and consistency during his three seasons with the Celtics. It seemed like he was never really a fit, though his wife recently refuted reports that the family was unhappy in Boston.

Hayward opted out of the $34.2 million he had remaining on his contract with the Celtics. Many were surprised to see him get $120 million over four years with Charlotte.

Photo: Erik Drost/Flickr via cc-by-sa 2.0

Gordon Hayward agrees to four-year contract with Hornets

Gordon Hayward

The Charlotte Hornets have delivered one of the big surprises of free agency.

As first reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Hornets have agreed to a four-year, $120 million contract with Gordon Hayward. The deal was confirmed by Hayward’s agent Mark Bartelstein.

Few saw this coming in terms of either the destination or the price. The Hornets hadn’t really been mentioned as a suitor for Hayward. In fact, this wasn’t the team we heard Hayward wanted to join. The $30 million annual price tag is also something. Essentially, the Hornets are paying Hayward with the expectation that he’ll perform as he did with the Utah Jazz, not the Boston Celtics.

The Hornets lack the cap space to make this deal outright. They will have to either move some money or execute a sign-and-trade with the Celtics.

The 30-year-old swingman averaged 18.8 points and 7.2 rebounds last season for Boston. Expect him to be a focal point of Charlotte’s offense.

Report: Michael Jordan has given LaMelo Ball ‘stamp of approval’

Michael Jordan

There appears to be increasing reason to think the Charlotte Hornets may be zeroing in on LaMelo Ball ahead of Wednesday’s NBA Draft.

According to The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor in his latest mock draft, Hornets owner Michael Jordan has given the front office his “stamp of approval” to allow them to select Ball. It remains possible that the Hornets may move up to No. 1 to select James Wiseman, but Ball is clearly in play at No. 3.

Obviously, Jordan’s approval is big for a lot of reasons. He’s not just the owner, but he’s also an icon. It’s a big endorsement for Ball.

There’s a bit of history between Jordan and Ball’s father. That said, Jordan is smart enough to not let something like that dissuade him from picking Ball if he really believes doing so would change the course of the franchise.

Report: Hornets are a potential suitor for Russell Westbrook

Russell Westbrook

Russell Westbrook reportedly wants out of Houston after spending just one season with the Rockets, and the Charlotte Hornets have emerged as a potential suitor for him.

Shams Charania of The Athletic reports that the Hornets have interest in Westbrook and make sense as a landing spot for the All-Star point guard. Charlotte has several veterans on expiring contracts, and it doesn’t hurt that Westbrook has an endorsement deal with the Jordan Brand. Michael Jordan, of course, is the owner of the Hornets.

The Hornets finished 23-42 last season and did not qualify for the playoffs in Orlando. However, they’re the type of team that Westbrook could certainly take over, and it sounds he would prefer a situation like that to the one he is currently a part of in Houston.

Westbrook is owed over $132 million over the next three seasons. Any team that acquires him will need a ton of salary cap space, so that may require some serious maneuvering. Charania believes the Hornets are in a position to pull it off.

Westbrook has reportedly become uneasy about the culture in Houston and wants to join a team where he can have a similar role to the one he had with the Oklahoma City Thunder. That likely has a lot to do with both him and James Harden being ball-dominant players. It isn’t a huge surprise that Harden reportedly wants to remain with the Rockets.

John Focke fired by Hornets over accidental N-word tweet

The Charlotte Hornets have decided to part ways with radio play-by-play announcer John Focke over a tweet he sent that included a racial slur.

The Hornets announced on Thursday that Focke has been fired for violating the organization’s social media policy.

Focke, who just finished his first season as a Hornets radio broadcaster, was watching a playoff game between the Utah Jazz and Denver Nuggets last month when he sent a tweet that included the N-word. Focke said he had no intention of tweeting the racial slur, and it seems very likely that it was a typo.

“Shot making in this Jazz-(N-word) game is awesome! Murray and Mitchell going back and forth what a game!” the tweet read.

Focke deleted the tweet and issued an apology, but the Hornets immediately suspended him and have now fired him.

Focke worked for the Minnesota Timberwolves and WNBA’s Minnesota Lynx prior to being hired by Charlotte. He also does a podcast for the Hornets’ website in addition to radio play-by-play announcing. He’s not the first person in the sports community we have seen face serious disciplinary action for using a racial slur, though his typo seemed like an honest mistake.

Hornets suspend announcer John Focke over accidental N-word tweet

The Charlotte Hornets announced on Tuesday that they have suspended radio play-by-play announcer John Focke over a tweet he sent that included a racial slur.

Focke, who just finished his first season as a Hornets radio broadcaster, was watching Monday night’s playoff game between the Utah Jazz and Denver Nuggets when he sent a tweet that included the N-word. Focke said he had no intention of tweeting the racial slur, and it seems very likely that it was a typo.

“Shot making in this Jazz-(N-word) game is awesome! Murray and Mitchell going back and forth what a game!” the tweet read, according to Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer.

Focke deleted the tweet and issued an apology not long after.

“Earlier today I made a horrific error while attempting to tweet about the Denver-Utah game,” Focke wrote. “I don’t know how I mistyped, I had (and have) no intention of ever using that word. I take full responsibility for my actions. I have been sick to my stomach about it ever since. I’m truly sorry that this happened and I apologize to those I offended.”

Even with the apology and explanation, the Hornets have still chosen to suspend Focke indefinitely as they “investigate the matter more closely.”

Focke worked for the Minnesota Timberwolves and WNBA’s Minnesota Lynx prior to being hired by Charlotte. He also does a podcast for the Hornets’ website in addition to radio play-by-play announcing.

We’ve seen people in the sports community face serious disciplinary action recently for using racial slurs, but this appears to have been an honest mistake from Focke.

Watch: Kemba Walker emotional in introductions during return to Charlotte

Kemba Walker was emotional during his return to Charlotte on Thursday night.

Walker was drafted by the Hornets franchise in 2011 and spent eight seasons with the team before leaving to sign with the Boston Celtics in free agency. His new team visited his old team at Spectrum Center in Charlotte, and Walker was emotional during introductions. You could see him get teary-eyed:

Walker wanted to remain with the Hornets, but team owner Michael Jordan has a strict rule about not going beyond the salary cap, so the team did not re-sign the three-time All-Star guard due to contract issues.

Walker was a really good player for the Hornets during his eight seasons with the team and left because the team would not pay him as much as Boston would. The fans understand that, which is why he received such a warm reception. He appeared to be touched by it.

Terry Rozier reportedly agrees to three-year deal with Hornets

Terry Rozier

Terry Rozier is reportedly heading to the Charlotte Hornets on a three-year deal.

According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, Rozier has agreed to sign a $58 million deal once free agency opens, and will be part of a sign-and-trade deal with the Boston Celtics.

It’s unclear if this sign-and-trade deal will include the Brooklyn Nets, which is a scenario that the Celtics were reportedly interested in. According to Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports, the primary point is to open up space to retain Al Horford while keeping their MLE.

Rozier was leaving Boston as soon as Kemba Walker agreed to join the team. He has primarily been a reserve during his four years with the Celtics, but figures to play a bigger role on a Hornets team that will be rebuilding after Walker’s exit.

Celtics reportedly interested in three-team sign-and-trade for Walker

Kyrie Irving

The Boston Celtics know they’ll be losing Kyrie Irving and getting Kemba Walker, but they’re reportedly interested in some extra maneuvering to help themselves in the free agent market.

According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, the Celtics are interested in a sign-and-trade that would send Irving to the Brooklyn Nets and Terry Rozier to the Charlotte Hornets. This would allow the Celtics to create a full mid-level exception to bring in another supporting free agent.

This is why the Celtics have not yet renounced the rights to Rozier, a restricted free agent. Given that Rozier has interest elsewhere, he may not be happy about it, but with Boston still in control of his rights, there’s not a lot he can do. While not close, it’s a glimpse into the chatter going on behind the scenes to make all this roster shuffling work in an efficient way for everyone.