Ish Smith

Hornets Acquire Montrezl Harrell From Wizards

7:08pm: The trade is official, according to a Wizards press release. The pick Washington is receiving is a conditional seconder (2023 or 2024 from Boston via Charlotte).

The Hornets’ announcement states that the Wizards will receive the Celtics’ 2023 second-rounder if it’s not in the top 45. Presumably, if that pick lands in its protected range, Washington would instead get Boston’s 2024 second-rounder.

1:26pm: The Wizards are finalizing a deal to send veteran center Montrezl Harrell to the Hornets, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Washington will get Vernon Carey and Ish Smith in return, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). The Wizards will also receive a second-round pick, per Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link).

Harrell, 28, will provide a rugged interior presence for a Charlotte team that has been searching for help in the middle. He was acquired from the Lakers in the five-team offseason trade that sent Russell Westbrook to L.A., and averaged 14.1 points and 6.7 rebounds in 46 games with the Wizards.

Moving Harrell relieves the logjam in the middle that Washington has been dealing with ever since Thomas Bryant returned from an ACL injury last month. However, the timing of the move is interesting because Harrell talked publicly over the weekend about the negative mood in the team’s locker room.

Harrell has a $9.7MM expiring contract, and the Hornets will have early Bird rights on him this summer, tweets Bobby Marks of ESPN. Harrell is a North Carolina native, which may make him more likely to remain in Charlotte.

Smith, who played two seasons in Washington before going to Charlotte, has a $4.7MM non-guaranteed contract for next season. Carey will make $1.8MM next year and has a $1.9MM team option for 2023/24.

COVID-19 Updates: Niang, I. Smith, J. Richardson

Sixers forward Georges Niang has entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols, the team announced today (Twitter link via Tim Bontemps of ESPN). Niang has already been ruled out for Wednesday’s game and if he registered a confirmed positive COVID-19 test, he figures to miss several more. He’d have to sit out at least 10 days or return two consecutive negative coronavirus tests at least 24 hours apart before being cleared to exit the protocols.

Several teams have been affected this month by positive COVID-19 tests. Brooklyn, Charlotte, Chicago, Milwaukee, New York, and the Lakers are among the clubs that have had three or more players in the protocols at the same time. The Sixers aren’t at that point yet, but they’ll likely test the rest of the team to make sure they’re not at risk of an outbreak.

Here are more COVID-related updates from around the league:

  • The Hornets announced today (via Twitter) that Ish Smith has cleared the health and safety protocols and is joining LaMelo Ball in the G League on Wednesday to practice with the Greensboro Swarm for reconditioning purposes. Smith and Ball will have to pass cardiac tests before they get the OK to return to action for Charlotte.
  • Celtics wing Josh Richardson, who entered the protocols last Friday, has been cleared and returned to practice today, per head coach Ime Udoka (Twitter link via Jared Weiss of The Athletic). Richardson, who is rumored to be unvaccinated, may have been a close contact of someone who tested positive rather than registering a positive test himself.
  • Pat Graham of The Associated Press takes a look at how the NBA schedule has been impacted by COVID-19 for the first time this season and notes that the league’s new booster-related guidelines will go into effect this Friday.

Southeast Notes: Reddish, Bogdanovic, Okongwu, Hornets, Sabonis, Martin

Hawks forward Cam Reddish, who is recovering from a wrist injury, went through a full practice on Thursday, according to coach Nate McMillan. Reddish did some shooting and participated in drills at 75% speed. He’s listed as probable to play on Friday.

Bogdan Bogdanovic still needs more time to return from his ankle injury, Sarah Spencer of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports in a series of tweets. “Bogi’s not doing anything other than shooting. He looks better,” McMillan said. “He’s up on his feet and he’s moving around.”

Second-year big man Onyeka Okongwu is continuing his rehab assignment from shoulder surgery. He’s with the G League College Park Skyhawks and is expected to play on Thursday.

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • There’s been no change regarding the Hornets‘ COVID-19 issues. LaMelo Ball, Jalen McDaniels, Mason Plumlee, Terry Rozier and Ish Smith are all listed as out for Friday’s game against Sacramento due to the league’s health and safety protocols, the team’s PR department tweets. Charlotte’s depleted roster has managed to beat Atlanta and lose two close games to Philadelphia since those players were sidelined over the weekend.
  • With a recent report claiming that the Pacers may shake up their roster, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington examines whether Domantas Sabonis should be a trade target for the Wizards. Hughes notes that Rui Hachimura and Thomas Bryant are expected to return soon and the front office would like to see how they fit with their revamped roster. Hughes adds that the club already has the look of a playoff team and the addition of Sabonis may not move the needle all that much.
  • Caleb Martin may eventually have his two-way contract converted to a standard deal by the Heat but there are luxury tax concerns, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald notes. Martin has been active for 24 of the Heat’s 26 games and can only be active for 50 games under two-way rules. If he remained on the active roster for every game, he’d be able to play until nearly the end of January. But the Heat would have to wait a couple of weeks after that to convert his contract in order to avoid surpassing the tax threshold.

Ish Smith Becomes Latest Hornets Player In Protocols

Hornets veteran point guard Ish Smith has entered the league’s health and safety protocols, the team’s PR department tweets.

The team was already severely depleted by positive tests or close contact rules. LaMelo Ball, Terry Roziers, Mason Plumlee and Jalen McDaniels were placed under protocols on Saturday morning.

The shorthanded Hornets surprised Atlanta on Sunday. They’re playing the second game of a back-to-back tonight against Philadelphia.

Smith recorded season highs of 18 points and seven assists in Charlotte’s 130-127 victory on Sunday. Hornets coach James Borrego will have to improvise without his top three ball-handlers. Rookie James Bouknight will likely see extensive playing time.

Bouknight and four other players were recalled from the franchise’s G League affiliate in Greensboro prior to Sunday’s game to fortify the roster.

Four Hornets Players, Including LaMelo Ball, Placed Under Protocols

Hornets starting guards LaMelo Ball and Terry Rozier have entered the league’s health and safety protocols and are expected to miss several games, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets. Frontcourt players Jalen McDaniels and Mason Plumlee have also been placed under protocols, the team’s PR department tweets.

Those players will be sidelined for at least 10 days unless they record two consecutive negative tests at least 24 hours apart. Charlotte is scheduled to play five games over the next 10 days — Sunday at Atlanta; two home games vs. Philadelphia Monday and Wednesday; another home game vs. Sacramento on Friday; and a road test against Dallas next Monday.

The team sent players and staff members home from the practice facility as a precautionary measure, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweets. If all have tested positive, the Hornets could sign another player under the hardship exception, ESPN’s Bobby Marks tweets.

Charlotte is in the midst of a three-game losing streak but still has a winning record at 13-11. Ball had 36 points and nine assists against Milwaukee on Wednesday and is averaging 20.0 PPG, 8.3 APG and 7.7 RPG in his second NBA campaign. Rozier is the team’s third-leading scorer at 17.7 PPG, 3.6 APG and 3.5 RPG.

Until the duo returns, the Hornets will have to improvise in the backcourt with Ish Smith and Kelly Oubre likely to move into the starting lineup and Cody Martin and James Bouknight backing them up.

Plumlee has been sidelined with a calf injury since November 24 but was expected to return on Sunday. He’s averaging 6.8 PPG and 7.3 RPG as a starter. McDaniels is averaging 5.5 PPG and 3.3 RPG off the bench.

Southeast Notes: Suggs, Bridges, I. Smith, Hawks

Jalen Suggs has looked more like a rookie than some of the other lottery picks in this year’s draft, but the Magic are willing to be patient with him, writes Austin David of The Orlando Sentinel. The No. 5 overall pick is struggling in his first month in the NBA, shooting just 31.2% from the field and 20.3% from three-point range while averaging 3.5 turnovers per game to go with his 3.5 assists.

But Suggs has held onto his starting job, and a rebuilding Orlando team is planning to give him the time he needs to learn how to be an NBA point guard. Head coach Jamahl Mosley is a strong believer in Suggs and says he’s constantly working to get better.

“The thing that I continue to tell everyone is that the way he’s seeing it and communicating it through film sessions, with our coaches, with myself on the sideline, he’s seeing it very well,” Mosley said. “Now it’s just a matter of putting the physical side of it to it, and understanding when to slow down, when to speed up, the right reads, when it takes shots. He’s getting better at it slowly but surely. So as he can continue to communicate it, the better he’ll be as he sees it on the physical side of it.”

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • Miles Bridges is in his fourth season with the Hornets, but he still gets butterflies when playing in front of team owner Michael Jordan, according to Roderick Boone of The Charlotte Observer. Jordan attended Friday’s game and Bridges was aware of his presence. “The greatest basketball player of all time on the bench supporting you, it definitely gives you nerves,” Bridges said. “I came out and missed a few layups, missed three few free throws. But as soon as we started settling in and started playing our game, I feel like that’s when it took a turn. That’s when we started going on our runs. But it’s great to have him out there.”
  • Ish Smith, who signed with the Hornets in the offseason, played a little more than a minute Friday after sitting out the last two games of the club’s road trip, Boone adds. Coach James Borrego said the decisions have been based more on matchups than Smith’s performance, as he wanted to give Terry Rozier more time at point guard.
  • Hawks coach Nate McMillan may start using John Collins more frequently as a center with his second unit, per Sarah K. Spencer of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. McMillan said Collins and Danilo Gallinari are an effective pairing against smaller lineups.

Southeast Notes: Hawks, Hornets, Riley, Butler

The 3-3 Hawks have yet to recapture the momentum that propelled them to the Eastern Conference Finals last season, writes Chris Kirschner of The Athletic. With an intimidating schedule coming up in which Atlanta will play several 2021 playoff teams, Kirschner offers his thoughts on how the club can adjust.

While forwards Cam Reddish and John Collins have exhibited plenty of growth, other key Hawks players have struggled a bit. Point guard Trae Young is struggling to adjust to the league’s new free throw rules, while shooting guard Kevin Huerter is struggling to connect from deep.

There’s more out of the Southeast Division:

  • The Hornets have already enjoyed a promising start to the 2021/22 season, writes Roderick Boone of the Charlotte Observer. New additions Ish Smith and Kelly Oubre have fit in well thus far, with Oubre connecting on a solid 35.7% of his three-point looks. 2022 restricted free agent forward Miles Bridges has taken his scoring to borderline All-Star heights, and Boone is pegging his future contract in the $100MM vicinity. When it comes to perimeter depth, Boone observes that Cody Martin, Jalen McDaniels, and Nick Richards are also improving.
  • The hot start of the Heat has Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel wondering if team president Pat Riley has finally nailed the club’s supporting lineup around All-Stars Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo. The club has wholly recalibrated its frontcourt depth around Adebayo, and the early results have paid dividends thus far. The addition of former Raptors All-Star point guard Kyle Lowry has made a huge defensive impact on Miami, though his offense is struggling so far. Sixth man Tyler Herro also appears to have taken a leap in his third season.
  • Heat All-Star swingman Jimmy Butler has thrived alongside new addition Kyle Lowry. Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald wonders if Butler has been newly maximized as a player alongside the former six-time All-Star point guard.

Southeast Notes: Smith, Lopez, Carter, Bamba

Point guard Ish Smith will be playing for his 12th NBA franchise this season but his stint with the Hornets will be special, Sam Perley of the team’s website notes. Smith grew up in Charlotte, NC.

“I wanted to be home, I’m not going to lie to you,” Smith said. “I’m sure everybody is going mention it in every game we play. Every year, it’s about how many teams you’ve been on. I’m like look, somebody likes me. … [Being here] is something that I’m excited about, it’s something my family’s excited about. So, yeah, it is something I wanted to do.”

Smith signed a two-year deal with the Hornets last month.

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • Robin Lopez, signed to add depth in the middle for the rebuilding Magic, compares himself to a bullpen specialist in baseball, Josh Cohen of the team’s website writes. “You know the relief pitcher, they’re always a little rotund,” Lopez said with a grin. “They’re not playing every night necessarily, but they are going in there making an impact when the team needs them.” Lopez signed a one-year, $5MM deal with Orlando.
  • The Magic will be evaluating their long-term plans at center over the next 12 months, according to Josh Robbins of The Athletic. The franchise is unlikely to make long-term commitments to both Wendell Carter Jr. and Mohamed Bamba. They are eligible for rookie scale extensions this offseason. If Carter isn’t signed to an extension, he will still have every opportunity to prove himself in the season ahead and perhaps show that his ceiling is higher than many scouts believe he can reach, Robbins adds.
  • ICYMI, a former Nets guard has agreed to a contract with the Hawks. Get the details here.

Hornets Notes: Oubre, I. Smith, Li. Ball, Summer League

Kelly Oubre‘s two-year deal with the Hornets, which was completed using cap space, is worth $12MM and $12.6MM in year two, tweets Keith Smith of Spotrac. That second year is only partially guaranteed for $5MM, however, so the agreement includes just $17MM in total guaranteed money.

Meanwhile, Ish Smith‘s two-year contract with the Hornets uses most of the club’s room exception, according to Smith (Twitter link). It starts at $4.5MM in 2021/22, while the $4.725MM salary for ’22/23 is non-guaranteed.

Here’s more on the Hornets:

  • LiAngelo Ball, who is playing for the Hornets’ Summer League team in Las Vegas, said he’s “very thankful” for the opportunity and isn’t taking it for granted, as Rod Boone of writes. Ball was supposed to play for Oklahoma City’s G League affiliate in March 2020 before the pandemic stopped the season. He impressed Charlotte’s brass while working out in the gym with his brother LaMelo Ball in recent months, Boone writes.
  • Ball’s performance in Las Vegas is one of a handful of Hornets Summer League storylines to watch, according to Jonathan M. Alexander of The Charlotte Observer, who says he’ll also be keeping an eye on James Bouknight‘s three-point shooting and how much time Kai Jones spends at center.
  • In case you missed it, the Hornets are still believed to be eyeing restricted free agent Lauri Markkanen, despite no longer having the cap room necessary to sign him to an offer sheet.

Hornets Sign Ish Smith To Two-Year Deal

AUGUST 7: The Hornets have officially signed Smith, the team announced today in a press release. Based on the order in which Charlotte completed its roster moves this week, it looks like the team signed Smith using its room exception after using up all its cap space.

AUGUST 3: The Hornets have agreed to sign free agent point guard Ish Smith, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Charania reports (via Twitter) that it’s a two-year deal, with a team option on the second year. Smith will earn $4.5MM in the first year, Charania adds.

Smith, a Charlotte native, has spent the last two seasons in D.C. as a backup point guard for the Wizards. The 33-year-old averaged 6.7 PPG, 3.9 APG, and 3.4 RPG in 44 games (21.0 MPG) in 2020/21, with a shooting line of .434/.367/.576.

While the Hornets have LaMelo Ball atop their point guard depth chart and Terry Rozier as a strong second option, those two guards often share the court, so Charlotte needed to add a reliable backup after agreeing to send Devonte’ Graham to New Orleans in a sign-and-trade deal. It looks like the team has landed on Smith to fill that role.

The Wizards, meanwhile, are making major changes to their point guard position this offseason, as Russell Westbrook will be traded to the Lakers and Smith won’t be back. Washington has agreed to acquire Aaron Holiday from Indiana and is also finalizing a sign-and-trade deal to acquire Spencer Dinwiddie.