Appearing this week on the Vizion Podcast (YouTube link), big man Kai Jones discussed the end of his relationship with the Hornets, explaining that he “loved the whole situation in Charlotte” but that he also believes a fresh start could ultimately be for the best.
Explaining the factors that led to his release, Jones said the Hornets were concerned about “the social media stuff,” as well as his sleeping patterns. The 22-year-old said that he was “going through some things” off the court, including the death of his great-grandmother, but that he bristled when the Hornets asked him to speak to a therapist.
“At this time, I’m stubborn, I’m like, ‘Bro, I do not want to see a therapist. I just want to meditate and clear my head and use my intuition to figure out my own issues,'” Jones said. “They’re like, ‘No, you should go to a therapist.'”
Although Jones eventually relented and met with a therapist, he said that he didn’t feel like those sessions were helping him. When the Hornets subsequently asked him not to report to training camp, he recognized that his days with the franchise were likely numbered and requested a trade.
“(Hornets general manager) Mitch (Kupchak) tells me I’m not allowed to do training camp,” Jones said. “When he tells me that, that was when I was like, ‘Yo, I’m off of this team.’ How can I play here? They’re not letting me do training camp. They’re not allowing me to try out for my position, right? So I’m upset, I’m like, ‘Yo, I just wanna leave now. I’m gonna leave.'”
According to Jones, after he asked for a change of scenery, Kupchak told him that the front office didn’t think he would have any real value on the trade market. Jones disagreed, but was ultimately waived instead of being traded. He’s now an unrestricted free agent and said he has spoken to multiple clubs since being let go by Charlotte.
“Right now I’m just meeting with teams, they’re trying to get to know me better, kind of analyzing my character,” Jones said. “I think the biggest thing for me is if I want to take it somewhere else in life and be more successful than I ever have been, I’ve gotta work harder than I ever have, be more detailed than I ever have, be more consistent than I ever have, and be stronger in my will, in my head space, and (physically) than I ever have.”
Jones declined to get into specifics on which teams he has been in contact with since being cut by the Hornets, but one report last week suggested the Clippers brought him in for “a visit of some capacity.” He’s still earning his full $3,047,880 salary for 2023/24, which was guaranteed as part of his deal with the Hornets.