Hornets Sign P.J. Hairston

The Hornets have signed 26th overall pick P.J. Hairston, the team announced via press release. Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer reported the signing minutes before the team’s announcement (Twitter link). Hairston was one of two remaining unsigned first-round picks Thursday when I looked at the 2014 draftees who’d yet to strike a deal with their respective NBA teams. He’s likely to receive close to $1.15MM this season, as our chart of salaries for 2014 first-round picks shows.

Hairston had intially chosen an agent who wasn’t union-certified, and that appeared to be at the root of the delay as he went unsigned for almost two months following the draft. Charlotte acquired his rights on draft night in the trade with the Heat that also gave the Hornets the rights to 55th overall pick Semaj Christon, who’s yet to come to terms with the club. No. 9 pick Noah Vonleh, the other 2014 draftee whose rights belong to Charlotte, signed with the team last month. The signing gives Charlotte 14 guaranteed deals plus a pact with the undrafted Justin Cobbs that’s presumably non-guaranteed.

It’s quite possible that Hairston will go down as a steal, since he seemed destined to end up as a lottery pick had the University of North Carolina not decided to part ways with the shooting guard over NCAA-eligibility concerns. Hairston spent much of last season in the D-League with the Texas Legends, and he became the first former D-League player selected in the first round of the NBA draft.

Chad Ford of ESPN.com ranked Hairston as the 18th-best draft prospect in spite of his D-League detour, while Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress had him 20th, furthering the notion that the Hornets have a chance to make out well with the 26th pick. Our Alex Lee was also high on the 6’5″ 21-year-old, projecting him as the 16th pick in the final version of his Hoops Rumors Mock Draft.

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