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.