James Bouknight

Hornets Exercise Options On Ball, Bouknight, Jones

The Hornets have picked up their 2023/24 rookie scale team options on third-year All-Star point guard LaMelo Ball, as well as second-year players James Bouknight and Kai Jones, reports Rod Boone of The Charlotte Observer.

Boone notes that the decision was widely expected. While Ball, the No. 3 draft pick in 2020, has already emerged as the focal point of Charlotte’s offense, 6’5″ shooting guard Bouknight has worked his way into the team’s rotation under returning head coach Steve Clifford, thanks in part to injuries incurred by Terry Rozier and Cody Martin. The 6’11” Jones, a power forward/center, is the team’s third-string five behind Mason Plumlee and Nick Richards.

Ball, 21, has yet to play for the 2-2 Hornets this season as he continues to work his way back from an ankle injury. The 6’7″ guard posted averages of 20.1 PPG, 7.6 APG, 6.7 RPG, and 1.6 BPG across 75 games last year, and was named an All-Star injury replacement by the league. In 2021/22, Ball posted .429/.389/.872 shooting splits. His 2023/24 option is worth approximately $10.9MM.

Across four games thus far in his sophomore season, Bouknight is averaging 5.8 PPG, 1.8 RPG and 1.5 APG in 15.5 MPG. The No. 11 pick in 2021 out of Connecticut has been coming off the bench for Charlotte. His stint with the Hornets thus far has not been without its off-the-court issues. Just prior to the start of the 2022/23 season, Bouknight was arrested for a DWI, making him the third Charlotte player overall to be arrested during the 2022 offseason. His $4.57MM salary for 2023/24 is now locked in.

Jones, the No. 19 pick out of Texas in last year’s draft, has seen spot minutes in two contests this season, averaging just 3.0 MPG. Richards, the No. 42 pick out of Kentucky in 2020, has had a robust start to his third NBA season. His minutes averages have leapt up from 7.3 in 2021/22 to 21.8, and he is averaging 13.0 PPG and 7.8 RPG for the Hornets, effectively squeezing Jones out of the team’s rotation for now. He’ll still earn a guaranteed $3.05MM in ’23/24.

All NBA clubs have until this coming Monday, October 31, to exercise their team options on players’ rookie scale deals. All of those decisions are listed here.

Southeast Notes: Bouknight, Magic, Banchero, Wizards

Hornets guard James Bouknight, who was arrested over the weekend for driving while impaired, was found unconscious in his car in a parking deck, according to Charlotte-Mecklenburg police, via a WSOC TV report.

Police records state that Bouknight’s car was running and in drive when he was found, and the 22-year-old was holding a handgun. Officers attempted to wake him up using airhorns, a PA system, and lights, and when he eventually did come to, Bouknight allegedly seemed confused and refused to comply with officers, crashing into two patrol cars before eventually getting out of the car and being taken into custody.

Bouknight issued an apology to the Hornets and his teammates when he returned to practice earlier this week, per Kallie Cox and Roderick Boone of The Charlotte Observer.

“Honestly, I just wanted to apologize for being a distraction before the start of the season, for my teammates and for what we’ve got going on,” said Bouknight, who went scoreless on 0-of-5 shooting in 14 minutes during the team’s regular season opener in San Antonio on Wednesday.

Here’s more from around the Southeast:

  • It may not be realistic to expect the Magic to make the playoffs this year, but the team at least needs to show real signs of progress to consider the 2022/23 season a success, argues Mike Bianchi of The Orlando Sentinel. “It’s been asked many times this offseason — ‘What’s next?'” president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman said. “I think this season is going to be a continuum from last season, but with that we want to start putting in what winning looks like — fewer mistakes, team orientation, being tied on a string defensively, elevating our standard as our team grows up so our players understand what winning is about.”
  • The Magic didn’t pick up a win in their season opener on Wednesday, but they had to be encouraged by the debut of No. 1 overall pick Paolo Banchero, who racked up 27 points, nine rebounds, and five assists in Detroit. As Jamal Collier of ESPN writes, even though he said he felt like he “left a lot of points on the board,” Banchero is the first NBA rookie to post a 25-5-5 line in his debut since LeBron James in 2003.
  • Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington takes a look at what we learned about the Wizards‘ rotation based on their first game of the season. Notably, Delon Wright and Will Barton were part of the club’s closing lineup, Rui Hachimura was the first player off the bench, and rookie guard Johnny Davis was a DNP-CD.

Hornets’ James Bouknight Arrested For DWI

Hornets guard James Bouknight, the No. 11 overall pick of last year’s draft, was arrested and charged early Sunday morning for driving while impaired, per Kallie Cox of The Charlotte Observer. The Hornets acknowledged Bouknight’s arrest (via Twitter), but didn’t have much to say on the matter.

We are aware of the incident involving James Bouknight and are in the process of gathering additional information,” the team said in a statement. “We will have no further comment at this time.”

This is not the first vehicular incident Bouknight has been involved in, Cox writes. Last November, he was cited for speeding and reckless driving (107 mph in a 65 mph zone), and is slated to appear in court later this month.

Bouknight was also cited in February for reckless driving, and last Wednesday, he was once again ticketed for speeding and reckless driving (92 mph in a 50 mph zone). According to Cox, there was another case involving Bouknight, but the charges were dropped.

The 22-year-old was also arrested for fleeing a car accident three years ago while at UConn and reportedly smelled of alcohol at the time, per a report from The Associated Press (via ESPN).

As Cox notes, Bouknight is the latest Hornets player to be arrested in 2022, but unfortunately not the first.

Former Hornet Montrezl Harrell was arrested for a felony marijuana trafficking charge in May, but that was later reduced to a misdemeanor possession charge which will be removed from his record if he remains in good legal standing for the next 10 months. Harrell signed with the Sixers as a free agent less than a week after his charge was reduced.

In addition to Bouknight and Harrell, restricted free agent Miles Bridges is facing three felony domestic violence charges for an incident in Los Angeles at the end of June. He’s scheduled to appear in court today for a preliminary hearing, which has been postponed several times.

Hornets Notes: Bouknight, Jones, Thor, Bridges, Hayward

Second-year Hornets players James Bouknight, Kai Jones and JT Thor are hoping to enjoy more responsibilities with Charlotte this season, per Rod Boone of The Charlotte Observer. Boone notes that this triumvirate of reserves needs to be prepared when new (returning) head coach Steve Clifford calls their number.

“We’ve talked about the potential of the team,” Jones said. “The biggest thing for us is always just being workers. We talk about that all the time, getting your extra in, coming in whenever you can — early morning, late at night — to be the player that you can be. Fulfill your potential.”

Bouknight reflected on the areas of his game he has been building out during the offseason.

“Just working over the summer on making the right reads on the weak side, passing the ball, playing with my size, playing on the defensive end,” he said. “I just think I’m capable of doing everything on the court, honestly.” 

There’s more out of Charlotte:

  • The future of current Hornets forward Miles Bridges, Charlotte’s leading scorer in 2021/22, remains up in the air. The preliminary hearing in Los Angeles for his three domestic violence felony charges has been pushed back for a fourth time, from September 16 to October 7, according to Michael Gordon and Rod Boone of The Charlotte Observer. Bridges pleaded not guilty to all three charges in July. He remains a restricted free agent.
  • Oft-injured Hornets forward Gordon Hayward is missing today’s preseason opener after he “banged his knee” in a team practice, per Rod Boone of The Charlotte Observer (Twitter link). “He wants to play,” head coach Steve Clifford said. “He’s actually a little upset about it, but it doesn’t make any sense to me and it doesn’t make any sense to [team trainer] Joe [Sharpe].”
  • In case you missed it, Luke Adams penned a Community Shootaround piece about some of the big questions surrounding the Hornets heading into the 2022/23 season. Weigh in with your thoughts!

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.”