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#pounditTuesday, August 9, 2022

Articles tagged: Charlotte Hornets

2 surprising teams have reportedly entered Donovan Mitchell sweepstakes

Donovan Mitchell warming up

Dec 7, 2019; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (45) warms up prior to their game against the Memphis Grizzlies at Vivint Smart Home Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Knicks appear to have lost their exclusive negotiating rights for Donovan Mitchell.

Shams Charania of The Athletic reported on Friday that Mitchell trade talks between the Knicks and the Utah Jazz have stalled, adding that there hasn’t been contact between the two sides in about two weeks. Charania also says that the Jazz are continuing conversations with other interested teams, including the Charlotte Hornets and the Washington Wizards.

The Hornets and Wizards, two Southeast Division rivals, are both surprising suitors for the three-time All-Star Mitchell. The former does not have many young upside pieces to offer (besides the all-but-untouchable LaMelo Ball), and the latter already has a franchise shooting guard in Bradley Beal (who has a full no-trade clause).

It is also possible that this is a leak from the Jazz camp for leverage and to try to drive up the price on the Knicks. But even so, there may be one big hurdle standing in the way of any potential Mitchell trade to New York.

Isaiah Thomas could get another shot in NBA with 1 particular team?

Isaiah Thomas during warmups

Apr 16, 2019; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Nuggets guard Isaiah Thomas (0) in the third quarter of the game against the San Antonio Spurs in game two of the first round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

At 33 years old, Isaiah Thomas still may not be running on empty just yet.

Shams Charania of The Athletic reports Monday that the Charlotte Hornets are interested in potentially signing the veteran guard Thomas to a new deal. Charania notes that Thomas emerged as a positive locker room leader with the Hornets last season.

Thomas also publicly expressed his desire to return in a tweet on Monday.

Charlotte was one of three NBA stops the multi-time All-Star Thomas made last season. He averaged 8.3 points and 1.4 assists in 12.9 minutes per game over 17 contests for the Hornets. Thomas also shot a surprisingly stellar 39.7 percent from three, which was one of the highest marks on the entire team.

Players who contribute far less than that on the court (e.g. DeAndre Jordan, Udonis Haslem, etc.) are still being given roster spots in 2022 due to their positive impact on team chemistry. That gives Thomas a strong argument for another stint in Charlotte (though he could be at a disadvantage since this beloved ex-Hornet is also in the mix to get signed).

Hornets looking to reunite with surprising player?

Michael Jordan in a suit

Dec 21, 2013; Charlotte, NC, USA; Charlotte Bobcats owner Michael Jordan unveils the new Charlotte Hornets logo at halftime during the game against the Utah Jazz at Time Warner Cable Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

The Charlotte Hornets may be about to fuse past and present together.

Shams Charania of The Athletic reported on Monday that the Hornets are considering a reunion with ex-franchise player Kemba Walker, who played for them from 2011 to 2019. Charlotte has a potential need for another reserve point guard, and Walker is among their options, Charania adds.

The 32-year-old Walker, who was traded to the Detroit Pistons earlier this summer and subsequently bought out, is likely the greatest Hornets player of the last decade. He made four All-Star teams plus an All-NBA team in Charlotte, serving as the face of the franchise for many years. Walker also helped lead the Hornets to their most recent playoff appearance in 2016.

Still, a reunion would be surprising since Walker left on bitter terms in 2019 when Charlotte reportedly lowballed him in extension talks. Further, the Hornets have a new franchise point guard in 20-year-old LaMelo Ball.

But as a likely minimum salary player coming off a injury-riddled, career-worst year last season with the New York Knicks, Walker may have value as a veteran backup for Ball. Also working in Walker’s favor is that the Hornets recently re-hired Walker’s former head coach for another stint.

LaMelo Ball finally making big change before third NBA season

LaMelo Ball gesturing

Jan 8, 2022; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Charlotte Hornets guard LaMelo Ball (2) reacts after making a three point basket against the Milwaukee Bucks during the second period at the Spectrum Center. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

LaMelo Ball sold a lot of jerseys during his breakout second NBA season, but all of that merchandise now officially qualifies as throwback.

Ball is changing his jersey number from No. 2 to No. 1 next season, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Ball wanted to wear No. 1 when he came into the NBA, but that number was occupied by Malik Monk at the time. Monk is no longer with the team. Ball was very vocal about wanting to switch from No. 2 to No. 1 last year, but he was unable to do so for contractual reasons. He supposedly missed the deadline to make the change, though he seemed to think it should have been allowed.

Now, Ball will finally get his preferred number. He wore No. 1 throughout his time at Chino Hills High School. He even tried to negotiate with Monk for the number during his rookie year but was unsuccessful. It clearly means a lot to him.

LiAngelo Ball makes NBA team’s Summer League roster

LiAngelo Ball looking on

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

LiAngelo Ball is still trying to make it to the NBA like his two brothers, and is getting another shot in the NBA Summer League.

Ball was listed on the Charlotte Hornets’ Summer League roster Friday, suggesting the team still wants to take a look at him ahead of next season. He will have the chance to play alongside first round pick Mark Williams, as well as players like Nick Richards and JT Thor who briefly featured during the regular season last year.

The Hornets have had Ball’s rights since last August, so it is not a huge shock that they would give him an invite here. He played for them in Summer League last year and actually impressed quite a bit, though it was not enough to get him any NBA time.

The 23-year-old appeared in 28 games for the G League’s Greensboro Swarm last season, averaging 4.6 points per game in limited minutes.

Michael Jordan had fun with Mark Williams on NBA Draft night

Michael Jordan in a suit

Dec 21, 2013; Charlotte, NC, USA; Charlotte Bobcats owner Michael Jordan unveils the new Charlotte Hornets logo at halftime during the game against the Utah Jazz at Time Warner Cable Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

Michael Jordan is one of the most famous North Carolina Tar Heels to ever play basketball, and he made sure to needle former Duke center Mark Williams after the Charlotte Hornets drafted Williams with the 15th overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft.

After he was selected on Thursday night, the Hornets called Williams to welcome him to the organization. Hornets general manager Mitch Kupchak (also a UNC alum) was the first to congratulate Williams, telling the 20-year-old that there’d be plenty of work to do before the NBA Summer League begins.

Kupchak then handed the phone to Jordan, the team’s owner, who told Williams that he hoped that the rookie would get in the gym right away to work on his game. Before ending the call, though, Jordan managed to sneak in a subtle comment about Williams’ former school.

“Even though you’re a Dukie, I take pride in that we did draft you,” Jordan said.

Williams responded by saying that they had to “put the beef aside.”

The Duke-North Carolina rivalry will have to be set aside for now as the 7-foot-1 Williams could be a big contributor for Charlotte next season. With Montrezl Harrel facing felony drug trafficking charges for a May incident, Williams could wind up being the backup center behind Mason Plumlee.

In 39 games last season at Duke, Williams averaged 11.2 points, 7.4 rebounds and 2.8 blocks per game while being named the ACC’s Defensive Player of the Year. At North Carolina, Jordan averaged 17.7 points and 5.0 rebounds per game in three seasons, and won a national title in 1982.

Hornets reportedly bringing back ex-coach in surprise reunion

Michael Jordan in a suit

Dec 21, 2013; Charlotte, NC, USA; Charlotte Bobcats owner Michael Jordan unveils the new Charlotte Hornets logo at halftime during the game against the Utah Jazz at Time Warner Cable Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

The Charlotte Hornets are ending their bizarre coaching search by turning back to someone they know well to take the team forward.

The Hornets have agreed to a deal with former coach Steve Clifford, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Clifford returns to the organization four years after he was fired.

Clifford coached the Hornets from 2013 to 2018. He then moved to the Orlando Magic after his firing, where he spent three seasons. The Hornets ultimately replaced Clifford with James Borrego, who they fired earlier in the offseason.

The Hornets had originally settled on Kenny Atkinson to replace Borrego, but that deal fell through. It seemed logical that the Hornets would pivot to the initial runner-up for the job, but for whatever reason, they decided on Clifford instead.

Hornets could have surprising reunion with ex-head coach?

Michael Jordan in a suit

Dec 21, 2013; Charlotte, NC, USA; Charlotte Bobcats owner Michael Jordan unveils the new Charlotte Hornets logo at halftime during the game against the Utah Jazz at Time Warner Cable Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

Michael Jordan may be calling an unexpected audible as the Charlotte Hornets continue to search for their next head coach.

Veteran NBA writer Marc Stein reported this week that former Hornets coach Steve Clifford has emerged as a candidate to return to the team as their head coach. The Charlotte job remains open in the wake of Golden State Warriors assistant coach Kenny Atkinson’s backing out of an agreement to become Hornets coach.

Clifford, 60, coached Charlotte for five seasons from 2013 to 2018. He compiled a record of 196-214 (.478) but did lead the team to their most recent playoff berth in 2016. Clifford then went on to coach the Orlando Magic for three seasons following his Hornets stint.

A Clifford return to Charlotte would be a shocker, especially since he was fired by the team. Clifford is also a fairly unexciting, defense-first coach who would be guiding a flashy, young roster that thrives in an up-tempo scheme.

After the Atkinson reversal, the Hornets appeared to be considering a more fitting head coach. But they could now be throwing that out the window in the name of familiarity.

Report: Hornets have put former All-Star on trade block

Michael Jordan in a suit

Dec 21, 2013; Charlotte, NC, USA; Charlotte Bobcats owner Michael Jordan unveils the new Charlotte Hornets logo at halftime during the game against the Utah Jazz at Time Warner Cable Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

The Charlotte Hornets know there is a possibility that they could lose Miles Bridges this offseason, but they are reluctant to see that happen. They may be looking to move some salary around in order to free up some money for Bridges.

According to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, the Hornets have put Gordon Hayward on the trade block. Hayward has two years and $61 million left on his 4-year, $120 million deal he signed in Nov. 2020.

Hayward played in 49 games last season and 44 the year before. He averaged 15.9 points, 4.6 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.0 steals per game last season. Now 32, Hayward has not been the same player since his All-Star season with Utah in 2016-2017. Hayward left Utah after that season and broke his leg in his first game with Boston. He is still a good player, but it might be tough for Charlotte to find someone willing to take Hayward and his $30 million a year salary.

The Hornets have two picks in the first round for this year’s draft. They have pick Nos. 13 and 15 and would be willing to attach one of the picks in a trade of Hayward.

Moving the $30 million Hayward is owed per season would give Charlotte the money to retain Bridges, who is a restricted free agent. They also need to be able to afford LaMelo Ball when he becomes extension-eligible.

Beyond Hayward, the Hornets’ next highest-paid player is Terry Rozier, who is making $21 million next season. The team’s salary figures are going to start changing once they get Ball and Bridges signed to long-term deals, if they’re able to do so.

1 team reportedly has legitimate interest in Russell Westbrook trade

Russell Westbrook warms up

Oct 6, 2021; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Los Angeles Lakers guard Russell Westbrook prior to the preseason game against the Phoenix Suns at Footprint Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

One opposing team could be arriving with a halo and a harp to save the Los Angeles Lakers.

Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer reported this week that the Charlotte Hornets have “real” interest in trading for embattled Lakers star Russell Westbrook. O’Connor notes that Charlotte has some big potential deals upcoming for Miles Bridges and LaMelo Ball. That means it may be smart for them to clear out longer-term salary by making a move for the former MVP Westbrook, who is on an expiring contract.

The Hornets, who went 43-39 this year, appear to be at a bit of a crossroads, especially after Kenny Atkinson pulled out of an agreement to become their next head coach. They have some big contracts to match in Gordon Hayward (owed $30.1 million next season) and Terry Rozier (owed $21.5 million). But the greater question is if it is worth it for Charlotte to take on Westbrook and essentially punt a year in exchange for longer-term flexibility (knowing that Westbrook’s presence could slow the 20-year-old Ball’s development for a year as well).

As for the Lakers, they seem to be comfortable with the idea of running it back with Westbrook, who is owed $47 million next season. But even if a Westbrook trade does materialize, the Lakers may still have to make a significant concession.