Hornets Rumors

And-Ones: Wood, O’Quinn, Extensions, Offseason Rankings

Christian Wood should thrive with Luka Doncic and the Mavericks, Stephen Noh of the Sporting News writes. Noh, who examines how Wood will blend his talents with the Dallas superstar, also takes a closer look at how Donte DiVincenzo (Warriors), Bruce Brown (Nuggets) and De’Anthony Melton (Sixers) could benefit after a change of scenery.

We have more from around the basketball world:

  • Former NBA big man Kyle O’Quinn has signed with the Japanese team, SeaHorses Mikawa, according to a team press release. O’Quinn played in France and Turkey after his last NBA appearance, a 29-game stint with Philadelphia during the 2019/20 season.
  • LeBron James, CJ McCollum, Jaylen Brown, Jerami Grant and Nikola Vucevic are among numerous notable players who are eligible to sign veteran extensions and are legitimate candidates to get them done. Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report examines what those extensions, among others, might look like.
  • Which 10 teams have improved the least this offseason? The Athletic’s David Aldridge takes his annual look at whether teams have gotten better or worse since the end of last season. The Spurs sit at the lowest end of the spectrum, with the Pacers, Hornets, Jazz and Lakers also in the bottom five.

Southeast Notes: Wizards, Surenkamp, Herro

The Wizards were among the worst three-point shooting clubs in the NBA in 2021/22, ranking dead last in attempts, 26th in makes, and 23rd in conversion rate. Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington examines to what extent the team may have addressed its long-range woes via its summer personnel moves, and how reasonable it is to expect incumbent players to boost their output going forward.

New additions Monte Morris and Will Barton are both solid three-point shooters on volume. Hughes speculates that development from young former lottery selections Rui Hachimura and Deni Avdija could help the Wizards in 2022/23. Second-year small forward Corey Kispert nailed 38.6% of his long-range looks following the All-Star break last season following a slow start. Should that trend continue, the 6’7″ wing could help improve Washington’s collective triple tally.

Hughes notes that star shooting guard Bradley Beal slumped during an injury-plagued season last year, connecting on a career-low 30% of his 5.3 attempts from deep. Across 51 games split between the Mavericks and Wizards, sharpshooting center Kristaps Porzingis also had a career-worst three-point conversion rate of 31%. If either former All-Star can inch closer to his prior three-point level, the team would benefit.

There’s more out of the Southeast Division:

  • The Hornets have a familiar face – Jordan Surenkamp – sticking around for a second season as the head coach for their NBA G League affiliate, the Greensboro Swarm, per Rod Boone of the Charlotte Observer. “From an organizational standpoint, I’m very clear understanding the goals that the organization has for Greensboro,” Surenkamp said. “I’ve developed really strong relationships with the front office even going back to my days as video coordinator. So the lines of communication, clarity, all of that is there.”
  • Assuming the Heat are unwilling to part with All-Defensive center Bam Adebayo, 2022 Sixth Man of the Year Tyler Herro could be the most appealing piece the team considers movable, writes Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel. All-Stars Kevin Durant and Donovan Mitchell, plus big men like Myles Turner, John Collins, Harrison Barnes and Jae Crowder, are still among Miami’s potential trade targets.
  • In case you missed it, JD Shaw discussed the Heat‘s 2022/23 season prospects in a recent Community Shootaround.

NBA Teams With Open Two-Way Contract Slots

A total of 18 NBA teams currently have both of their two-way contract slots filled, as our tracker shows.

That doesn’t mean those players will be locked into those slots for the rest of the 2022/23 season, or even until opening night, since two-way deals are low-cost contracts that don’t count against the salary cap, making them easy to replace. But it means those spots are unavailable for the time being.

That leaves 12 teams with at least one two-way slot available. Those teams are as follows:

  • Atlanta Hawks
  • Brooklyn Nets
  • Charlotte Hornets
  • Chicago Bulls
  • Dallas Mavericks
  • Houston Rockets
  • Indiana Pacers
  • Los Angeles Clippers
  • New Orleans Pelicans
  • Portland Trail Blazers
  • San Antonio Spurs
  • Washington Wizards

The Hawks, Hornets, Mavericks, Rockets, Clippers, the Trail Blazers, and Wizards have fairly straightforward two-way situations at the moment — they’ve each filled one slot and have one open, with no reports indicating that any of those teams has reached an agreement on a two-way deal with a free agent or draftee.

The Nets and Bulls also have one two-way spot filled and one open, but each of them has a two-way qualifying offer out to a restricted free agent — David Duke for Brooklyn and Malcolm Hill for Chicago. If those players simply accept their QOs, neither the Nets nor the Bulls will have a two-way opening.

The Spurs also have one two-way player signed and one spot open, though a Shams Charania report last month indicated that undrafted rookie Jordan Hall will sign a two-way contract with San Antonio. If and when that happens, the Spurs will join the list of teams with both of their two-way slots occupied.

The Pacers and Pelicans are currently the only two teams that don’t have a single player on a two-way contract. A Charania report way back in June suggested that Dereon Seabron would sign a two-way deal with New Orleans, but it hasn’t officially happened yet.

The best candidate for a two-way contract with Indiana, meanwhile, could be 48th overall pick Kendall Brown, who is one of a handful of 2022 draftees still unsigned. Even if Seabron and Brown sign two-way pacts, the Pacers and Pelicans would still each have one slot available.

Hornets Announce Coaching Staff

The Hornets have finalized the coaching staff under Steve Clifford, who is returning as the team’s head coach after a four-year absence.

Tyrone Corbin will be Clifford’s lead assistant, according to Roderick Boone of The Charlotte Observer. Corbin, 59, has 16 years of coaching experience and spent three years on Clifford’s staff in Orlando. He has been a head coach with both the Jazz and Kings, compiling a career record of 119-167.

Also new to the staff in Charlotte will be Bob Beyer, Rex Walters, Bruce Kreutzer and Brian O’Connor.

Beyer was an assistant to Clifford during his first stint with the Hornets and most recently worked for the Pelicans. Walters is a former college and G League head coach who spent time as an assistant with the Pistons and Pelicans. Kreutzer served on Clifford’s staffs in both Charlotte and Orlando and has been a shooting consultant with the Sixers. O’Connor spent the past five seasons as an assistant at Georgetown and served as an intern with the Hornets five years ago.

Jay Hernandez, Nick Friedman, Norman Richardson and Marlon Garnett will be retained from James Borrego‘s staff last season.

Checking In On Remaining Restricted Free Agents

Of the players who finished last season on an NBA roster and didn’t have a contract for 2022/23, there are still dozens of unrestricted free agents on the open market. However, the number of restricted free agents is far smaller.

As our list of current free agents shows, there are just eight restricted free agents still unsigned — four who received standard qualifying offers and four who received two-way QOs.

We’re already a month into the 2022 free agent period, but it’s possible that some of these restricted free agents will remain on the market for another month or two. Let’s take a closer look at the RFAs still available…

Standard RFAs:

It’s no surprise that Bridges remains unsigned. He was arrested just before free agency began and now faces multiple felony charges related to domestic violence. The Hornets will certainly be in no rush to re-sign him as the legal process plays out, and Bridges’ $7.9MM qualifying offer won’t expire until October 1, so he’ll be in no hurry to accept it either. If and when Bridges is back under contract, the NBA would have the option of placing him on paid administrative leave, pending an investigation.

The other three cases here look more like straightforward examples of how restricted free agency often works. In all likelihood, the Bucks, Cavaliers, and Spurs have made preliminary offers to Nwora, Sexton, and Wieskamp, respectively, and have encouraged them to explore the market to see if they can get a more lucrative offer sheet elsewhere. Until that happens, those teams are unlikely to bid against themselves by increasing their offers.

We know, for instance, that the Cavs have reportedly offered Sexton a three-year deal worth roughly $40MM. He’s believed to be seeking a salary closer to $20MM per year.

All three players would have the option of accepting their qualifying offers and heading into the season on a one-year contract, but that may be a more viable path for Sexton, who is coming off a lost season and has a QO worth $7.2MM, than for Nwora ($2.1MM). Wieskamp’s qualifying offer is also relatively modest ($1.8MM), but his NBA résumé is far more limited than Sexton’s or Nwora’s, so it’s unclear if he’ll get a better offer than that.

Two-way RFAs:

A report in early July suggested that Duke was hoping to earn a standard contract from the Nets, and following a Las Vegas Summer League in which he averaged 19.0 points per game in five appearances, there’s no reason to think his stance has changed. Brooklyn only has 13 players on standard contracts, so a promotion remains in play for Duke, but the team likely wants resolution on the Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving sagas before locking in those back-of-the-roster spots.

Once Goran Dragic officially signs, the Bulls will have 15 players on standard guaranteed contracts and just one on a two-way deal, so they’d probably like to see Hill accept his two-way qualifying offer to fill that second slot.

It’s unclear what the Raptors‘ plans are for Johnson. The team has filled its two-way slots with new signees (Ron Harper Jr. and Jeff Dowtin) and there will be stiff competition for a spot on the 15-man regular season roster — the team already has 13 players on fully guaranteed contracts, plus three with partial guarantees and second-rounder Christian Koloko still unsigned. We’ll see if Johnson gets a chance to vie for one of those roster spots.

There may be a cleaner path for Thomas to earn a place on the Celtics‘ 15-man roster. Only 12 of Boston’s regular season roster spots are accounted for so far, so Thomas could get the chance to compete to be the 13th or 14th man. The team has already filled both its two-way slots with new additions (JD Davison and Mfiondu Kabengele).

Trade Rumors: Mitchell, Barrett, Collins, Heat, Stalled Market

Appearing on The Rally (video link), Shams Charania of The Athletic reports that trade talks between the Jazz and Knicks centered on Donovan Mitchell have “stalled out” and the two teams haven’t had contact for about two weeks.

According to Charania, Utah is continuing to discuss moving Mitchell, just not with New York. The Jazz have engaged with the Hornets and Wizards recently, Charania adds, but it doesn’t sound like a potential deal is imminent with either of those clubs.

As Charania observes, many around the league still peg the Knicks as the favorites to land the three-time All-Star guard due to their combination of draft capital and young players. However, with the caveat that things can change at any time, it appears as though nothing is happening on that front right now.

Here are a few more trade rumors from around the NBA:

  • On his Please Don’t Aggregate This podcast (hat tip to HoopsHype), Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report said he continues to hear that the Jazz don’t have much interest in trading for — and paying — Knicks wing RJ Barrett as part of a Mitchell package. Barrett is eligible for a rookie scale extension up until the start of the 2022/23 regular season, and if he’s unable to come to terms on an extension, he’d be a restricted free agent in 2023.
  • Ian Begley of SNY.tv pushes back on the notion that the Jazz aren’t interested in Barrett, noting his report earlier this month that Utah actually initiated talks with New York with Barrett as part of the return package. Sources tell Begley the Jazz were trying to project what Barrett’s extension value might be at the time of those early discussions, which is only natural. It’s worth pointing out that these two reports aren’t mutually exclusive — the Jazz may indeed have interest in Barrett, but perhaps got a sense of what he’s looking for in an extension and then decided they didn’t want to pay him a large contract in the future. For what it’s worth, Begley says he would refuse to put Barrett in a possible Mitchell deal if he were the Knicks, as he believes that he’s worth more than extra first-round picks.
  • On the latest Lowe Post podcast, ESPN’s Zach Lowe said he doesn’t believe the Heat ever seriously pursued Hawks big man John Collins, but wonders if they might revisit that possibility before the season starts. “There has been some Miami, John Collins chatter,” Lowe said, per RealGM. “It’s old. It might be months old. I don’t think it was ever really serious at all. They might revisit that.”
  • Fred Katz of The Athletic suggests that the return the Jazz received from the Timberwolves for Rudy Gobert may have stalled the trade market for stars like Mitchell and Kevin Durant. According to Katz, the Jazz are seeking a bigger package for Mitchell than they received for Gobert, and the Nets are certainly looking for a massive haul for Durant. That might be having a trickle-down effect not only on the teams that are interested in the two stars, but other teams who could be looking to make lesser deals, Katz writes.

Northwest Notes: Beverley, Mitchell, Lillard, Thunder

After working to create a culture change in Minnesota last season, Patrick Beverley was looking forward to helping the Timberwolves take the next step. Although he was caught off guard by the team’s decision to send him to the Jazz in the Rudy Gobert trade, Beverley told Mark Berman of Fox 26 in Houston he wouldn’t call the move a surprise (video link).

“Surprised, no not in this business,” Beverley said. “Understood it. Never personal, always business. We did some great things in Minnesota. We kind of revamped the environment there. Gave the fans something to be happy about.”

Beverley brought a veteran presence to a young Wolves team that reached the playoffs for just the second time in the past 18 seasons. He hopes to fill a similar role for Utah, but admits that things are unpredictable in the midst of Donovan Mitchell trade rumors.

“We’ll see what happens in the next couple of weeks. It’s a lot going on right now,” Beverley said (video link). “We’ll see where the dust clears. Hopefully Donovan Mitchell stays and the team is competitive. If that’s the case we’re very excited.”

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • The Knicks are still in position to make the best offer for Mitchell, but Jazz CEO Danny Ainge has the advantage of being able to wait until someone meets his price, notes Andy Larsen of The Salt Lake Tribune. Larsen examines the trade assets from the Hawks, Hornets, Heat, Kings, Raptors and Wizards – all rumored Mitchell suitors – to see what they could potentially offer.
  • Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard considers himself fully recovered from abdominal surgery in January, according to Sean Highkin of Rose Garden Report. Lillard played 29 games last season before deciding to have the operation, but he admits that the pain had been bothering him for nearly five years. “I feel 100 percent healthy,” Lillard said. “I got a break from playing and going out there knowing I didn’t feel good, and the burden of, ‘We have to win. I have to perform well.’ That’s a little bit stressful. So the last seven-and-a-half, almost eight months without having to think about none of those things, it kind of cleared my mind. Physically, I feel great.”
  • Longtime Sixers executive Vince Rozman will join the Thunder as vice president of identification and intelligence, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Kemba Walker, Isaiah Thomas On Hornets’ Radar

The Hornets are keeping an eye on the point guard free agent market and are considering the possibility of reuniting with Kemba Walker, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium (video link).

Walker was drafted by Charlotte out of UConn with the ninth overall pick in 2011 and spent his first eight NBA seasons with the Hornets before signing with Boston as a free agent in 2019. He made three All-Star teams during his time in Charlotte and earned a fourth All-Star nod in his first year as a Celtic, but has been slowed by knee problems since then.

After being traded from Boston to Oklahoma City during the 2021 offseason, Walker was bought out by the Thunder and signed with the Knicks. However, he was limited to just 37 games with New York in 2021/22 and didn’t look like his old self. The 32-year-old was traded to Detroit in a salary-dump deal earlier this month and is expected to be bought out again, though he remains on the Pistons‘ official roster for the time being.

Having been bought out twice in two years, Walker would seem unlikely to land more than a minimum-salary contract in free agency, but the Hornets could theoretically offer more than that — they have their full mid-level and bi-annual exceptions available.

Walker’s level of interest in returning to Charlotte is unclear.

The Hornets currently have 13 players on standard contracts and only one of them, LaMelo Ball, is a true point guard, though Terry Rozier will also have some ball-handling responsibilities. Charlotte seems likely to fill one of its two remaining roster spots with a point guard.

According to Charania, the Hornets are also mulling the idea of bringing back Isaiah Thomas, who was solid down the stretch last season and emerged as a locker room leader in Charlotte. Thomas is still unsigned after averaging 8.3 PPG on .433/.397/.933 shooting in 17 games (12.9 MPG) for the Hornets last season.

The Hornets are in no rush to fill their two open roster spots, as they continue to monitor Miles Bridges‘ legal situation, Charania notes.

Latest On Donovan Mitchell

While the Knicks continue to be viewed as the frontrunners to trade for Jazz star Donovan Mitchell, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic that talks between the two teams have moved slowly so far. New York and Utah remain far from an agreement, Charania adds.

As Charania explains, with three guaranteed years remaining on Mitchell’s contract and approximately two months until training camps begin, Utah has plenty of time to gauge the trade market and evaluate the best offers for the All-Star guard, so the club isn’t operating with a sense of urgency at this point.

Since word broke that the Jazz are open to inquiries on Mitchell, the Knicks have frequently been mentioned as his primary suitor, but they’re far from the only team in the mix, according to Charania.

Sources tell The Athletic that the Heat, Wizards, Raptors, Hornets, Hawks, and Kings have all registered some level of interest in the 25-year-old.

Mitchell hasn’t requested a trade and hasn’t pushed to leave Utah, says Charania. However, if the Jazz were to shift into full-fledged rebuilding mode, he would prefer to end up with a contender, per Charania.

Utah’s Rudy Gobert and Royce O’Neale trades earlier this offseason signaled that a rebuild could be on the horizon for the team. Still, it remains possible that the Jazz could use some of the draft assets acquired in those deals to trade for win-now help with the intent of retooling around Mitchell. The roster still features veterans like Mike Conley, Bojan Bogdanovic, Jordan Clarkson, Patrick Beverley, and Malik Beasley, so it’s not as if Utah has engaged in a full tear-down yet.

Eastern Notes: Bridges, Oladipo, Pistons, Harden

Hornets forward Miles Bridges entered a plea of not guilty to three felony domestic violence charges during his arraignment in Los Angeles County Superior Court on Wednesday, writes Baxter Holmes of ESPN.

Bridges’ next court appointment is on August 19, according to Holmes, who says a date for a preliminary hearing is set to be scheduled at that time. The L.A. District Attorney’s office has indicated that Bridges could face a maximum sentence of 11 years and eight months in prison if he’s convicted of the three domestic abuse charges he faces, tweets Steve Reed of The Associated Press.

The NBA will wait for the legal process to play out before determining whether to levy any penalties of its own against Bridges. As Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets, the league wouldn’t have the ability to suspend Bridges if he’s found not guilty. However, a suspension is possible if he’s found guilty, he reaches a plea deal, or the charges are dropped.

Here’s more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • The Heat haven’t made any major outside additions to their roster this offseason, but if Victor Oladipo rounds back into form, that could represent a significant upgrade for the team in lieu of a trade acquisition or free agent signing, says Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel. Oladipo has played just 12 games for Miami since arriving at the 2021 deadline, but should be healthier in 2022/23 than he has been at any point since originally injuring his quad tendon in early 2020.
  • Keith Langlois of Pistons.com takes a look at the Pistons‘ projected starting five, suggesting that Cade Cunningham and Saddiq Bey are locks to be part of that group and will likely be joined by Isaiah Stewart and Jaden Ivey. Several players could be in the mix for the fifth starting spot, according to Langlois, who views Isaiah Livers as the slight favorite over Marvin Bagley III, Alec Burks, and others.
  • Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report explores the new agreement between James Harden and the Sixers, wondering if the two sides have a wink-wink agreement to complete a lucrative long-term deal next summer or if Philadelphia is hedging its bets by not making a long-term commitment to Harden at this point.