Charlotte Hornets

Hornets, Rockets, Pelicans In Mix For Lou Williams

The Lakers’ front office turnover hasn’t stopped teams around the league from inquiring on Lou Williams. Speaking to reporters today, new Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson said that he has already spoken to 10 general managers, per Tania Ganguli of The Los Angeles Times (Twitter link). As Bill Oram of The Orange County Register notes (Twitter links), Johnson confirmed that most of his calls have been about Williams, adding that it will take “a lot” to get him.

As we’ve heard in the last 24 hours, the Jazz are in the mix for Williams, and so are the Wizards. However, they have plenty of competition. Michael Scotto of Basketball Insiders reports (via Twitter) that the Rockets and Pelicans have also expressed interest in trading for Williams. Chris Haynes of ESPN.com adds Charlotte to the list of Williams suitors as well, tweeting that the Hornets have “aggressively” pursued the veteran guard.

With a 24-32 record, the Hornets aren’t currently in playoff position, but the team remains on the lookout for pieces to improve their 2016/17 roster, according to Sean Deveney of The Sporting News. Deveney wrote earlier today Charlotte was one of many teams to inquire on Williams, suggesting that the Hornets have been looking for a scorer off the bench and depth at point guard.

A player like Williams would appeal to the Hornets and other clubs due to both his solid on-court production and his favorable contract. Despite only playing 24.2 minutes per game off the bench for the Lakers, Williams is averaging a career-high 18.6 PPG, and has established new career bests in three-pointers per game (2.1) and 3PT% (.386) so far. The 30-year-old is also earning just $7MM this season and remains under contract for $7MM in 2017/18.

According to both Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype and ESPN’s Marc Stein (Twitter links), teams around the NBA still expect Williams to be moved this week, despite the massive restructuring that took place in the Lakers’ front office.

Hornets Complicated Cap Situation Could Limit Deals

  • The Hornets complicated their cap situation when they acquired Miles Plumlee earlier this month but retain some expiring contracts that could be dealt ahead of the deadline. General manager Rich Cho, Bobby Marks of The Vertical explains, has made four trade deadline deals since his first year with the squad back in 2011.

Trade Deadline Outlook: Southeast Division

In the days leading up to the February 23 trade deadline, Hoops Rumors will be taking a closer look at each of the NBA’s 30 teams, by division. We’ll be identifying each team as a buyer, seller, or something in between, and discussing which teams and players are most likely to be involved in deals this month. We’ve already covered the Atlantic and Northwest. Today, we’re examining the Southeast.

Buyers:

The Wizards (33-21) have been one of the NBA’s best teams since the first 10 games of the 2016/17 season, but their roster probably isn’t quite deep or talented enough to match up to a healthy Cavaliers squad in the playoffs. Washington doesn’t exactly have a huge collection of promising young players to dangle in trade talks, but the team does have all of its future first-round picks, and could use at least one of them to strengthen its rotation. A deal similar to last year’s Markieff Morris acquisition wouldn’t move the needle enough to make the Wizards conference favorites, but it would make the club a little more dangerous in the postseason without mortgaging much of its future.

The Southeast’s second-place team, the Hawks (32-24), looked like sellers a month ago, but the team is prepared to buy now, and has several future draft picks and expiring contracts to dangle in trade discussions. As some observers have pointed out, Atlanta actually looks like a good fit for Carmelo Anthony, matching up better as a trade partner for the Knicks than most of Carmelo’s preferred destinations. Anthony’s no-trade clause makes a move to the Hawks extremely unlikely though, so the team will have to look elsewhere for scoring help on the wing or in the backcourt.

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Knicks, Lakers Top Forbes’ NBA Franchise Valuations

The Knicks have been one of the NBA’s most dysfunctional teams this season. On the court, the team has gone just 23-33, with $72MM man Joakim Noah failing to make a significant impact, and Jeff Hornacek and Phil Jackson not always on the same page when it came to the use of the triangle. Off the court, things have been even worse, with Jackson criticizing star forward Carmelo Anthony, and owner James Dolan at odds with former Knicks star Charles Oakley.

On the west coast, the Lakers haven’t been much better, racking up a 19-38 record, good for the No. 14 seed in the West. The team hasn’t made as many off-court headlines, but the structure of the front office is currently up in the air, with new advisor Magic Johnson publicly declaring that he wants to be the one calling the shots on roster decisions.

Despite the problems in New York and Los Angeles, the Knicks and Lakers remain the NBA’s two most valuable franchises, according to a report from Kurt Badenhausen of Forbes. The Knicks and Lakers are the only teams valued at more than $3 billion by Forbes.

Team valuations are up around the league, with the Warriors leading the way among this year’s increases — according to Forbes, the Dubs are 37% more valuable that they were at this time in 2016. In total, 18 teams have a valuation exceeding $1 billion, which is up from 13 teams last year and just three teams in 2015. The average NBA franchise is now worth $1.36 billion, according to the report.

Here’s the full list of NBA franchise valuations, per Forbes:

  1. New York Knicks: $3.3 billion
  2. Los Angeles Lakers: $3 billion
  3. Golden State Warriors: $2.6 billion
  4. Chicago Bulls: $2.5 billion
  5. Boston Celtics: $2.2 billion
  6. Los Angeles Clippers; $2 billion
  7. Brooklyn Nets: $1.8 billion
  8. Houston Rockets: $1.65 billion
  9. Dallas Mavericks: $1.45 billion
  10. Miami Heat: $1.35 billion
  11. Cleveland Cavaliers: $1.2 billion
  12. San Antonio Spurs: $1.175 billion
  13. Toronto Raptors: $1.125 billion
  14. Phoenix Suns: $1.1 billion
  15. Sacramento Kings: $1.075 billion
  16. Portland Trail Blazers: $1.05 billion
  17. Oklahoma City Thunder: $1.025 billion
  18. Washington Wizards: $1 billion
  19. Orlando Magic: $920MM
  20. Utah Jazz: $910MM
  21. Detroit Pistons: $900MM
  22. Denver Nuggets: $890MM
  23. Atlanta Hawks: $885MM
  24. Indiana Pacers: $880MM
  25. Philadelphia 76ers: $800MM
  26. Memphis Grizzlies: $790MM
  27. Milwaukee Bucks: $785MM
  28. Charlotte Hornets: $780MM
  29. Minnesota Timberwolves: $770MM
  30. New Orleans Pelicans: $750MM

For comparison’s sake, Forbes’ 2016 valuations can be found right here.

Hornets Sign Mike Tobey To Second 10-Day Deal

1:34pm: After initially keeping their 15th roster spot open to acquire Chris Andersen, the Hornets have officially waived the Birdman, allowing the team to finalize Tobey’s second 10-day contract. The team confirmed the signing this afternoon in a press release.

9:32am: Like Hornets teammate Ray McCallum, rookie center Mike Tobey will sign a second 10-day contract with Charlotte, a league source tells Chris Haynes of ESPN.com (Twitter link). While McCallum’s deal is official, Tobey’s new contract has yet to be formally confirmed by the Hornets.

Tobey, a 7’1″ center out of Virginia, averaged 7.3 PPG and 4.4 RPG in 15.7 minutes per contest during his senior year in 2015/16. The 22-year-old joined the Hornets for Summer League action in Orlando last year, then inked a training camp deal with Charlotte that featured a $75K guarantee. However, he didn’t earn a spot on the team’s regular season roster, and landed with the Hornets’ D-League affiliate instead.

In 28 games this season with the Greensboro Swarm, Tobey averaged 11.0 PPG, 8.8 RPG, and 1.3 BPG in 25.9 minutes per contest, earning a call-up to Charlotte earlier this month. Although the Hornets re-added Tobey to their roster after trading Roy Hibbert and Spencer Hawes to Milwaukee, the Virginia alum has yet to make his regular-season NBA debut.

With Tobey and McCallum back under contract, the Hornets will have a full 15-man roster for the next week and a half. Both 10-day deals are set to expire the night before the trade deadline, which will give Charlotte some deadline-day roster flexibility if needed.

Hornets Acquire, Waive Chris Andersen

1:18pm: The Hornets issued a press release confirming their acquisition of Andersen, and announcing that they’ve already waived the injured center.

11:18am: The second-round pick Cleveland gets in the deal is top-55 protected for 2017, a league source tells Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Based on the Hornets’ current record, there’s virtually zero chance of that pick changing hands, as expected.

11:04am: The Cavaliers have opened up a spot on their 15-man roster by making a trade with the Hornets, the team announced today in a press release. According to the Cavs, Cleveland is sending injured big man Chris Andersen and cash to Charlotte in exchange for a protected second-round pick.Chris Andersen vertical

Although the Cavs are receiving a second-round pick in the swap, that selection will likely be a heavily-protected pick that never actually changes hands. Andersen has no value this season, since he’s out for the year with a torn ACL, so Charlotte is doing the Cavs a favor by taking him off their hands. In return, the Hornets will likely get more than enough cash to cover Andersen’s remaining salary, so they’ll come out ahead in the transaction.

While Cleveland will probably never receive that protected second-round pick, the team had been motivated to move Andersen. By sending the Birdman’s contract elsewhere, the Cavs will ensure that they don’t have to pay an extra tax charge for him at season’s end. The club is currently so far into tax territory that every dollar spent results in an extra $2.50 tax charge — that means Andersen’s $980K minimum salary would have cost more than $2.4MM in tax payments. By trading him, the Cavs reduce their tax bill and create an opportunity to add someone new to fill that newly-opened 15th roster spot in the coming days or weeks.

Cleveland had previously sent out $2.75MM in cash in a few separate trades, and teams are limited to $3.5MM in outgoing cash for the 2016/17 league year. It wouldn’t be a surprise if the Cavs sent out the rest of their available trade money ($750K) in this deal, though the specifics aren’t yet known. The Cavs will also create a modest trade exception in the swap, worth Andersen’s cap hit ($980,431). It will expire a year from today.

Charlotte, meanwhile, had an open roster spot after Ray McCallum and Mike Tobey saw their 10-day contracts expire overnight. McCallum already re-signed with the team, but Tobey hasn’t formally inked a new deal yet. The Hornets will likely waive Andersen shortly in order to make room to re-sign Tobey.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Hornets Re-Sign Ray McCallum

The Hornets have re-signed Ray McCallum to a second 10-day contract, the team announced today in a press release. McCallum briefly became a free agent today after his initial 10-day deal with Charlotte expired last night.

McCallum, who has played for the Kings, Spurs and Grizzlies over the course of his NBA career, spent most of this season with the D-League’s Grand Rapids Drive, averaging 18.2 points and 7.5 assists per game for Detroit’s NBADL affiliate. The 25-year-old was cut by the Pistons just before the start of the season — he appeared to have a roster spot won, but was let go when the organization decided to claim Beno Udrih off waivers.

The Hornets signed McCallum on February 3 after a trade with the Bucks created an extra opening on their 15-man roster. Since joining the team, McCallum has not appeared in a single game, though the Hornets apparently liked what they saw in practice enough to keep the veteran guard on the roster.

Charlotte signed rookie big man Mike Tobey to a 10-day contract on the same day the team inked McCallum earlier this month. Tobey’s deal also expired last night, though there’s no indication yet whether the Hornets will bring him back on a second contract, sign someone else, or keep a roster spot open.

Ramon Sessions Expected To Miss 4-6 Weeks

FEBRUARY 8: Although Sessions had hoped to avoid surgery, he went under the knife to repair his lateral meniscus tear, the Hornets announced today in a press release. According to the team, Sessions is expected to be sidelined for about four to six weeks.

FEBRUARY 3: Ramon Sessions has a meniscus tear in his left knee, Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer reports. Sessions will miss Saturday’s game against Utah and will be reevaluated upon returning to Charlotte, according to Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders.

To this point, Sessions hasn’t missed a game all season; most recently playing against the Warriors on Wednesday. Sessions’ ailment was initially reported as “knee soreness,” preventing the 30-year-old from practicing on Friday. A timetable has yet to be released for the injury, but torn meniscus injuries typically result in multi-week absences.

Now in his 10th NBA season, Sessions has averaged 6.2 points with 2.6 assists through 50 games with the Hornets.

Plumlee To Work Himself Back Into Game Shape

Though the size of his contract may skew fans’ perceptions of their newly acquired center, Miles Plumlee performed admirably in his Hornets debut Saturday, writes Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer. So long as realistic expectations are applied, it’s hard to knock what the big man brings to the table.

Plumlee arrived in Charlotte earlier this week after a trade between the Hornets and Bucks and will step into the rotation immediately as a reliable low-post presence capable of defending the pick-and-roll. As well, Bonnell notes, he’ll provide a badly needed source of physicality for head coach Steve Clifford.

Sessions Hopes To Avoid Surgery

Hornets guard Ramon Sessions hopes he can avoid surgery on the knee injury he suffered this week, writes Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer. Sessions was diagnosed with a torn lateral meniscus in his left knee after landing awkwardly while jumping Wednesday. He has been ruled out for tonight’s game in Utah and will be re-evaluated after the team returns home Sunday. “It’s not automatic surgery,” Sessions said. “From what the doctor in Utah saw, it wasn’t the worst tear. It was a little tear. Surgery or not, we don’t know. But it already feels better than it did the first night.” Sessions has been in the NBA for 10 years without surgery. The Hornets have a $6.27MM option on his contract for next season.

  • Charlotte traded for Miles Plumlee because GM Rich Cho believed the team needed more “physicality” and “athleticism,” he said in a conference call with reporters. The Hornets sent Spencer Hawes to the Bucks in the deal, along with Roy Hibbert, who just signed with the team in July. Cho blamed injuries for the difficulties Hibbert had in Charlotte. “I think that we had pretty high expectations when we signed Roy and, as you know, he had a really good first game,” the GM said, “but then he had some injuries and it’s kind of tough to get in a rhythm, into a groove when you’re up and down with the injuries. Unfortunately, it didn’t work for Roy here, but one thing that you have to do when you’re a team, when you feel like something’s not working, [you have to] try and move on quickly.”
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