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#pounditSunday, October 17, 2021

Articles tagged: Charlotte Hornets

LiAngelo Ball gets big news about NBA future

LiAngelo Ball sitting in the stands

LiAngelo Ball has finally gotten the call that he has been waiting for.

Shams Charania of The Athletic reported on Thursday that the Charlotte Hornets have signed Ball to a non-guaranteed contract, adding that Ball will play for the team’s G League affiliate, the Greensboro Swarm. The 22-year-old was about to enter the G League Draft, but signing him outright instead will allow the Hornets to acquire Ball’s rights.

Ball, the older brother of Hornets star LaMelo, impressed many with his work ethic and strong play in Summer League. He averaged 9.6 points in just 17.4 minutes per game on a solid 34.5 percent clip from downtown.

The signing of LiAngelo brings the Hornets’ current roster to 19 players. He is not the only member of his famous family who has been making power moves lately either.

Photo: Dec 7, 2018; Scottsdale, AZ, USA; LiAngelo Ball attends the game between Spire Institute and Bella Vista Prep at Chaparral High School. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Hornets coach issues challenge to LaMelo Ball for next season

LaMelo Ball

After LaMelo Ball’s glitzy Rookie of the Year campaign last season, his head coach wants a bit more cowbell from him so to speak.

Charlotte Hornets head coach James Borrego spoke this week to the media and revealed his challenge for Ball heading into next season.

“I want him to take the reins of this program,” said Borrego, per Steve Reed of the Associated Press. “He’s the quarterback, the floor general and for us to take that next step he must run this team, not only on the offensive end but the defensive end as well.”

Borrego added that he has been working closely with Ball one-on-one to get the 20-year-old to better understand particular game situations.

Ball certainly lived up to the hype as a rookie, averaging 15.7 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 6.1 assists per game. He helped the historically lowly Hornets get to the play-in tournament and might have had an even more impressive season had he not missed several weeks with a wrist injury.

The former No. 3 overall pick has still given us some reasons to question his maturity recently. But Borrego clearly believes that Ball has what it takes to be the undisputed frontman of the Hornets.

LiAngelo Ball winning over Hornets with Summer League performances?

LiAngelo Ball

LiAngelo Ball might just be playing his way into a roster spot with the Charlotte Hornets.

Ball, who signed with the Hornets’ Summer League team, has impressed so far for the team. In Las Vegas Summer League action, the middle Ball brother has averaged 10.5 points and 2.3 rebounds in 16.3 minutes per game. Notably, he’s shooting over 40 percent from three point range, and has consistently looked like he belongs in the competition.

The Hornets are taking note of that too. NBA reporter Jordan Schulz said Sunday that the Hornets “love” Ball and that he has a chance for a spot in the G League or even the NBA. He also included a quote from Hornets assistant Jay Triano, who raved about Ball’s work ethic.

There have been other hints that Ball could well make the Hornets, where his younger brother LaMelo won Rookie of the Year honors last season. He’ll have to keep working hard and impressing, but at the very least, LiAngelo seems to understand what he needs to do to get himself on the radar, and he’s doing it.

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.