3:03pm: The Hornets have officially signed Smith and waived Sumner, the team announced in a press release.
12:37pm: The Hornets are making an early-season roster change, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic, who reports (via Twitter) that the team will sign veteran guard Ish Smith, waiving Edmond Sumner to clear a spot on the 15-man roster.
Smith, a well-traveled NBA veteran, has played for a record 13 teams, including the Hornets in 2021/22. Last season, the 35-year-old won his first NBA championship in Denver, averaging 2.5 points and 2.3 assists in 9.3 minutes per game across 43 regular season appearances for the Nuggets.
Charlotte presumably felt the need to add some extra point guard depth behind starter LaMelo Ball, with projected backup Frank Ntilikina expected to miss at least four weeks due to a fractured tibia. Smith and Theo Maledon are among the players who will be in the mix for those backup minutes until Ntilikina is ready to return.
While terms of Smith’s deal haven’t been reported, I’d expected a non-guaranteed minimum-salary deal. That would give the Hornets the flexibility to swap him out for another player prior to the league-wide salary guarantee date in January if Ntilikina is healthy by then.
It’s bad news for Sumner, who was on track to be one of four players on non-guaranteed Exhibit 9 contracts to make an opening night roster. Instead, it sounds like he’ll be placed on waivers prior to the Hornets’ regular season opener on Wednesday.
Sumner, 26, averaged 7.1 PPG, 1.5 RPG, and 1.3 APG in 53 games (13.9 MPG) for the Nets last season, posting a shooting line of .461/.356/.917. It was his first season back following an Achilles tear that cost him all of 2021/22.
Assuming he’s officially cut on Tuesday, Sumner will receive a small portion ($40,459) of his non-guaranteed minimum salary, since he was on the roster until the first day of the regular season and will spend two more days on waivers.