Hornets Notes: Washington, Bouknight, Nnaji, Smith

P.J. Washington is willing to consider accepting his qualifying offer if he can’t reach an agreement on a new contract with the Hornets, sources tell Sean Deveney of Heavy.com. Some progress has been made in negotiations, according to Deveney’s sources, but the team still hasn’t offered a number that would convince Washington to commit to a long-term deal. Accepting the $8.5MM QO would make him an unrestricted free agent in 2024.

Washington is the best player on our list of the top 50 free agents who remains unsigned. He reclaimed his role as a full-time starter last season and averaged a career-best 15.7 PPG in 73 games.

Teammate Miles Bridges accepted his $7.9MM qualifying offer after originally seeking a new deal starting at $20MM per season, so the Hornets could have more money than expected to offer Washington, Deveney adds. Charlotte might be reluctant to have both Washington and Bridges on the open market next summer, and Deveney points out that the new ownership group may also work in Washington’s favor.

There’s more on the Hornets:

  • James Bouknight has been spending a lot of time in the weight room as he tries to earn a spot in the team’s rotation, writes Roderick Boone of The Charlotte Observer. Bouknight was a lottery pick in 2021, but he h as only played in 65 combined games during his first two seasons. He hopes to impress the coaching staff with his approach to the game during Summer League. “I’m not going out there and trying to score 20 points, 30 points,” Bouknight said. “I’m just going out there and working on the stuff that we need to use during the season. Continue to be in the right spots on defense — whether it’s making the right pass, making the right decision. Just working on what we need during the year.” 
  • James Nnaji‘s debut was delayed while he awaited his international clearance from FIBA, Boone adds. The second-round pick missed Charlotte’s first three practices and its first game at the California Classic while waiting for the clearance to be approved. “It was frustrating because I thought FIBA could write it and give it right away,” Nnaji said. “But they were delayed the whole time, and it was out of my control.”
  • The Hornets feel fortunate that they were able to grab Nick Smith Jr. with the 27th pick after concerns about his knees caused him to slide, per Matt Ryan of The Charlotte Observer. Summer League head coach Marlon Garnett has been impressed with Smith’s work ethic. “I would much rather have a guy like that,” Garnett said, “that you have to tone down a little bit so he can channel all that energy and make sure he’s in the right place at the right time, that he’s not getting spread out in situations, than to have somebody who maybe comes off as really lazy and casual and you got to kind of like amp him up.”
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