James Bouknight

Hornets’ Bouknight Undergoes Hand Surgery

Hornets guard James Bouknight underwent surgery on Monday to repair a tendon in his fifth digit on his right hand, the team announced in a press release.

Bouknight will not participate in the summer league next month.

The 11th pick of last year’s draft, Bouknight had a disappointing rookie campaign. He only made 31 appearances last season, averaging 4.6 PPG and 1.7 RPG in 8.9 MPG. He missed games due to wrist, neck and elbow injuries.

He also had a sideline altercation with now former head coach James Borrego in early February.

The surgery was performed by Dr. Brandon Valentine at Novant Health Charlotte Orthopedic Hospital in consultation with Hornets team physician Dr. Marcus Cook.

Southeast Notes: Beal, Capela, Ross, Bouknight

Bradley Beal is making progress after undergoing left wrist surgery in February. The Wizards star guard has been cleared to begin rehab work, Josh Robbins of The Athletic tweets. Beal’s cast, as well as the pins in his wrist, were removed on Wednesday.

Beal has not yet announced whether he’ll pick up his $36.4MM player option for the 2022/23 season. The expectation is that he’ll likely turn down that option in favor of free agency, even if he intends to sign a new deal with the Wizards.

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • Hawks center Clint Capela won’t play in Game 3 of the team’s first-round series against the Heat on Friday, according to coach Nate McMillan, Chris Kirschner of The Athletic tweets. Capela suffered a knee injury in the play-in tournament against Cleveland.
  • Earlier on Thursday, we noted that the Magic‘sTerrence Ross would welcome a trade. He has also changed his representation, rejoining CAA Sports as a client on and off the court, Liz Mullen of the Sports Business Journal tweets. CAA’s Aaron Mintz, who negotiated all of his previous contracts, re-signed him after Ross left Klutch Sports. Ross will be a free agent next summer.
  • Lottery pick James Bouknight admits his rookie season didn’t go as he hoped, Roderick Boone of the Charlotte Observer writes. The Hornets guard appeared in just 31 games. “I feel like I would describe it as a roller coaster,” he said. “Having good moments, having moments I could have done better, took the situation and made it better. But I think overall I learned a lot.” Bouknight added he has no issues with James Borrego despite a public disagreement with his coach shortly before the All-Star break.

Hornets Notes: Play-In Loss, Bridges, Washington, Borrego

The Hornets were exposed by the Hawks in Wednesday’s play-in game that ended their season, writes Roderick Boone of The Charlotte Observer.

As Boone outlines, the Hornets’ Achilles heel all year long was their defense and it was the weak link again on Wednesday in a 132-103 loss. Penetration into the paint was an ongoing issue, according to Boone, who suggests the Hornets lack any sort of intimidating interior presence and could badly use an athletic, shot-blocking center.

As Zach Kram of The Ringer observes, it was the second consecutive year in which the Hornets allowed more than 128 points per 100 possessions in an elimination play-in game, so addressing the defense has to be the team’s top priority this offseason. Besides acquiring a defensive-minded center, Charlotte could also benefit from adding a reliable wing who can capably guard opposing teams’ most dangerous perimeter players, Kram notes.

Here’s more on the Hornets as they prepare for their offseason:

  • Ejected in the fourth quarter of Wednesday’s loss, Miles Bridges threw his mouthpiece at a fan who was taunting him on his way to the locker room, but missed and hit another fan, a 16-year-old girl (video link). Bridges, who figures to face at least a fine from the NBA, apologized after the game for the incident, per Scott Fowler and Matthew Stephens of The Charlotte Observer. “I was upset about a call, a couple of calls really. I let my temper get the best of me. That was definitely the wrong thing to do,” Bridges said. ” … I was aiming for the guy that was screaming at me and it hit a little girl … I take full responsibility and will take any consequences the NBA gives me. … Hopefully, I can get in contact with the young lady, sincerely apologize and do something nice for her.”
  • Viewed as a potential trade candidate in February, P.J. Washington entered the Hornets’ starting lineup after the deadline and played a key role in the club’s success down the stretch, Boone writes for The Charlotte Observer. Washington will be eligible for a rookie scale extension this offseason, so Charlotte will have to decide soon how he fits into the organization’s long-term plans.
  • In his preview of the Hornets’ offseason, ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Insider link) explores how the team should approach the summer, taking an in-depth look at Bridges’ restricted free agency and Washington’s case for an extension. Besides needing a starting center, the Hornets could also use a backup point guard and need James Bouknight to develop into a rotation player, Marks writes.
  • After extending him last offseason, the Hornets seem likely to retain head coach James Borrego for 2022/23, but after the way the season ended, his seat should be considered warm – if not hot – going forward, Fowler writes in a column for The Charlotte Observer.
  • In case you missed it, we passed along a series of Hornets-related rumors on Wednesday.

Hornets Notes: Harrell, Borrego, Young Players, Deadline

Hornets head coach James Borrego recently gave his reaction to the trade that brought Montrezl Harrell to Charlotte, as Roderick Boone relays on his podcast, “The QC Hornets’ Nest,” for The Charlotte Observer (starts at 13:45).

Borrego first showed appreciation for Ish Smith and Vernon Carey, who were dealt to Washington in exchange for Harrell. Borrego said he’s excited to bring in an energetic, tough player in Harrell.

Excited to add a player that brings us some energy, edge, a toughness, a physicality; an interior presence who can finish and rebound at a high level. He’s always given us problems in the past. Now we get to use him on our end of the floor,” Borrego said.

The Hornets had been in a tailspin leading up to the deal, losing eight of their last 10 games to drop to 28-28 (currently 29-28 after their 141-119 victory over Detroit Friday). Borrego is hopeful Harrell can bring a spark off the bench.

Over the years, he’s always given us trouble when he’s entered the game. Many times he comes in off the bench and brings in a spark that can really turn a game. He’s one of those individuals that, immediately when he steps on the floor the game can change. The feel of the game, the intensity of the game can change,” Borrego said.

Here’s more on the Hornets:

  • Harrell had an immediate impact in his first game, Boone writes in a separate article for The Charlotte Observer. Boone notes that Harrell had 10 points in his first nine minutes of action, finishing with 15 points and six rebounds in 22 minutes. The veteran center said he’s always ready to play. “I like to play,” Harrell said. “I like to be around this game. I’m blessed to play this sport and be able to call it my job. So why miss the opportunity to be able to get out here and get acclimated with my team? Honestly, this is about not letting another one slip out of our hands. It’s about coming out here and trying to do anything to get the team a win.”
  • LaMelo Ball said Harrell is a glue guy and his effort is contagious, per Boone. “I love ‘Trez already,” Ball said. “That’s definitely a glue guy. I’ve been seeing him since I was a kid. He just brings a whole lot of effort, keep people locked in. You want to play defense with him, so he’s a great player.”
  • In an assessment of the trade, Boone writes that trading Smith will open an opportunity for rookie James Bouknight to get more minutes. The No. 11 pick of the 2021 draft, Bouknight has appeared in just 26 games to this point with an average of 10.3 MPG. He played 19 minutes against Detroit, scoring seven points and grabbing four rebounds. Boone also notes that it’s a low-risk look at Harrell, who’s a free agent this summer. The team will have early Bird rights on the North Carolina native.
  • Charlotte GM Mitch Kupchak said interest in the team’s young players ahead of the trade deadline was eye-opening, according to Boone. “All of our young players, there was a lot of interest,” Kupchak said. “It was really eye-popping to me, some of the interest in some of our players. And some of them because they are young, and some of them because they’ve been productive. Some of them maybe because they don’t get paid a lot. So there’s a lot of factors. And I’d like to believe it’s because they are all young, promising players. And all of the players, of course there’s interest when you are looking at big pieces. But there was a lot of interest in our young players.”

Southeast Notes: Hayward, Bouknight, Wizards, Beal, Hawks

The Hornets didn’t provided a timeline for Gordon Hayward‘s recovery when they announced on Tuesday that he has been diagnosed with sprained ligaments in his left ankle, simply stating in their press release that he’ll be out indefinitely.

However, Roderick Boone of The Charlotte Observer hears from a league source that Hayward could be sidelined for upward of a month while he recovers from the injury and goes through a rehab process.

With Hayward potentially unavailable until March, Boone contends (via Twitter) that making the right trade at the deadline is even more important for the Hornets, who are in increasing danger of missing the playoffs after a five-game losing streak dropped them to ninth in the East. In a separate story for The Observer, Boone identifies several possible trade candidates for Charlotte, focusing primarily on centers.

Here’s more from around the Southeast:

James Bouknight Has Sideline Altercation With Head Coach

Hornets rookie guard James Bouknight was escorted to the locker room by team security after an altercation with coach James Borrego during Saturday’s game, writes Roderick Boone of The Charlotte Observer.

The incident began late in the third quarter when Miles Bridges was knocked to the ground in a collision and had to be removed from the game because he was bleeding. Borrego inserted Bouknight for the final 14 seconds of the quarter, which was the only playing time he saw all night.

After the quarter ended, Bouknight and Borrego had a “heated exchange” on the sidelines, according to Boone, and Bouknight seemed to take a step toward his coach before they were separated. He remained in the locker room for the rest of the game.

“Obviously we were all a little frustrated, all of us,” Borrego said after the 18-point loss to Miami, “in the third quarter, early fourth and it got a little emotional there. Beyond that I’ll leave it there.”

Borrego admitted that Bouknight is unhappy over a lack of playing time. The 11th pick in last year’s draft has gotten into just 25 games and is averaging 4.8 points and 1.5 rebounds in 10.0 minutes per night.

“As I’ve said before he’s in a tough spot,” Borrego said. “He obviously wants to play. I get that. I understand that. Look, he’s a kid that we believe in, we trust in and we are going to find more minutes for him, more time. So I won’t get into the specifics. Just two competitors trying to help this team.”

Boone notes that the public dispute comes at an especially bad time for Charlotte, which has lost five of its last seven games and has slipped into ninth place in the East. Anxiety over Thursday’s trade deadline is adding to the tension in the locker room.

Bridges, who emphasized the need for the team to remain united, reached out to Bouknight after Saturday’s incident.

“Everybody’s been through it,” Bridges said. “When I was a rookie I wanted to play. And he’s very talented and he’s not getting in the game like he wants to. But I’m trying to explain to him that everybody’s been through that. I went through that. (LaMelo Ball’s) been through that and he was Rookie of the Year. So he’s good. I talked to him. He’s good and the Coach is good. So everything is good.”

Southeast Notes: Anthony, Yurtseven, Dedmon, Hornets

Magic guard Cole Anthony is an early-season candidate for Most Improved Player, Josh Cohen of NBA.com writes. Anthony is averaging 20.2 points and 6.0 assists per game on 43% shooting from the floor, up from last season’s averages of 12.9 points, 4.1 assists and 40% shooting.

“I think it is a reflection of his work ethic,” head coach Jamahl Mosley said. “It’s a reflection of his confidence, and it’s also the confidence that his teammates have in him to be willing to take those shots.

“But again, you also have a group of guys on the floor that are willing to take shots, That’s what we’ve created and it’s the equalness of each guy willing to want to step in to be able to make the big play, so whoever it is they’re willing to have their number called and step in and make a play.”

Anthony is averaging 34.4 minutes per game (compared to 27.1 MPG in 2020/21), but his shooting marks have also improved across the board. The Magic drafted the 21-year-old with the No. 15 pick in 2020.

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

Southeast Notes: Yurtseven, Bouknight, Haslem, Magic

Heat center Omer Yurtseven has gone through his fair share of highs and lows during the team’s summer league in Las Vegas this month, Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel writes.

Yurtseven, a promising 23-year-old from Turkey, recently signed a two-year contract with the Heat. Miami envisions him as part of its future, featuring him heavily throughout summer league to this point.

“I think it’s been a lot of learning, like watching the film and taking it all in,” Yurtseven said. “I’m still making those adjustments inside the game. All the coaches have been in my ear and also, OG, Udonis Haslem has been with us like for the last two, three games just giving advice.

“More reps and more reps, it’s just going to translate into the regular season.”

Here’s more from around the Southeast:

  • Hornets rookie James Bouknight was recently inspired by a surprise phone call from team owner Michael Jordan, Jonathan Alexander of the Charlotte Observer writes. The 20-year-old had a poor game on Monday, spoke to Jordan and bounced back for Thursday’s game against San Antonio. Bouknight finished with 23 points and eight assists against the Spurs.
  • In his latest “Ask Ira” mailbag for the Sun Sentinel, Ira Winderman explores whether Udonis Haslem could get more minutes with the Heat this season. The 41-year-old Haslem recently re-signed with Miami, committing to his 19th NBA season.
  • The Magic‘s less proven players are looking to make their marks in summer league, Josh Cohen of NBA.com writes. “I think it’s a great opportunity,” said coach Jamahl Mosley. “We talked about it coming into summer league. Talking about guys learning the habits, getting the fundamentals down. Try to see the things that we are putting in place and how do they respond to it. With Jalen [Suggs] being out, how do other guys get their opportunity to do things that we’ve asked them to do.”

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 SI.com 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 James Bouknight, Kai Jones

The Hornets have officially signed their two first-round picks, finalizing deals with former UConn guard James Bouknight and former Texas big man Kai Jones, according to a team press release.

Bouknight was taken with the 11th pick after averaging 18.7 PPG and 5.7 RPG in his sophomore season as an athletic shooting guard carrying a major offensive load. He showcased tough shot-making ability, elite athleticism and a nose for getting himself open off cuts and off-ball movement. The highlight of his season was a 40-point game against the ninth-ranked Creighton.

Jones, another sophomore, gained steam as a first-round pick throughout the season, and was at times even considered a potential lottery pick, due to his combination of athleticism, fluidity, and burgeoning offensive skillset, including a promising-looking jump shot. The Hornets traded a protected future first round pick to the Knicks to get the No. 19 pick to select Jones.

According to the team’s press release, Jones became just the fifth Bahamian player ever selected in the NBA draft.

Bouknight’s deal is expected to start at approximately $4.1MM and be worth approximately $19.1MM over its duration, while Jones’ is expected to start at around $2.7MM and will be worth approximately $13.4MM.