Malik Monk

Southeast Notes: Borrego, Wall, McGruder, Monk

As we wrote yesterday, the Hornets have no immediate plans to blow up their roster. Yet, a culture change is definitely in the works with new head coach James Borrego, who brings with him the winning culture of Gregg Popovich and the San Antonio Spurs, a franchise with five championships and a sixth NBA Finals appearance since the 1998-99 season.

While Borrego is not Popovich, Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer opines that there are four great habits he learned from Popovich that he can bring to the Hornets – great ball movement, getting the best out of your players, the ability to positively impact a locker room, and perhaps most importantly, develop talent.

As Bonnell notes, the more important quality the Hornets were looking for in its next head coach was player development. And while the Spurs front office gets a lot of credit for its ability in the draft, having a coaching staff adept at developing players is just as important.

Some examples of players who the Spurs drafted low and turned into serviceable NBA players include Tony Parker (28th overall), Manu Ginobili (57th), George Hill (26th), Tiago Splitter (28th), and Dejounte Murray (29th). Moreover, the Spurs developed Danny Green (46th) after acquiring him as a free agent. To that end, the Hornets hope that the hiring of Borrego will help develop its two young players drafted last summer – Malik Monk and Dwayne Bacon.

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • Candace Buckner of The Washington Post opines that although the leadership of John Wall was at times questionable this season for the Wizards, the situation would’ve been helped if Wall was able to play more, using his on-court leadership skills as opposed to trying to lead off the court.
  • Heat swingman Rodney McGruder is looking forward to returning to the hardwood next season and working to win back a spot in the rotation after missing 64 games during the 2017/18 campaign, writes Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel.
  • In another piece for The Charlotte Observer, Bonnell looks at how Monk will fit into the Hornets’ plans. According to new head coach Borrego, “I see him as a playmaker, who can play with Kemba (Walker) and also be on the court without Kemba, creating offense for us. (Or) pairing him and Nic Batum in a lineup where Nic is facilitating. He’s a combo (guard). I don’t know until I get my hands on him where I’m going to put him or how we’re going to play him. But he’s just going to be a very good basketball player who fits today’s NBA.”

Hornets Notes: Borrego, Batum, Howard, Zeller

Nicolas Batum may benefit more than anyone from the Hornets’ coaching change, writes Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer. Spurs assistant James Borrego is expected to install the motion offense used in San Antonio, which plays to Batum’s strengths of handling the ball and making quick decisions.

Charlotte’s approach under Steve Clifford this season was heavy on postups for center Dwight Howard, which restricted Batum’s effectiveness. His scoring average dropped to 11.6 points per game, the lowest in his three years with the Hornets, and Bonnell speculates that he needs a new approach on offense to become productive again.

Bonnell addresses more Hornets topics in a mailbag column:

  • New GM Mitch Kupchak would like to move at least one big contract this summer to provide cap relief, but the organization might be wise to hold onto Howard. Bonnell states that the team may be in a better long-term position by allowing Howard’s $23.8MM contract to expire next summer rather than trading it for other expensive assets. However, he questions how much Howard will play next season, especially if the Hornets fall out of contention early.
  • Of the five players with large contracts, Cody Zeller may be easiest to trade. Zeller is signed for the next three seasons at an average of about $14MM per year, but he is only 25 and could develop into an effective center if he can overcome his injury history.
  • Young players Malik Monk, Willy Hernangomez and Dwayne Bacon may get a better chance to prove themselves under Borrego than Clifford. Bonnell says all three will be closely watched and supervised over the offseason, although Hernangomez will spend a large part of the summer with the Spanish National Team.
  • Borrego may try to add a former NBA head coach to his staff, just as Clifford did with Bob Weiss and Eddie Jordan.
  • The most pressing offseason need is finding a point guard to back up Kemba Walker. Monk played there late in the season, but Bonnell notes that it’s too early to say if that’s his best position. It’s also a long-term concern because Walker is headed for free agency in 2019.

Hornets Notes: Walker, G League, Howard, Monk

With changes taking place throughout the organization, Kemba Walker understands he may not play another game for the Hornets, writes Steve Reed of The Associated Press. Walker, who became the leading scorer in franchise history this season, has one year left on his contract at $12MM and  could be moved this summer to bring Charlotte some much-needed cap relief.

“I have no idea,” he said when asked about his future with the Hornets. “That is out of my control. I am just going to focus on getting better as a player. That is really all you can do. I don’t know what they are going to do.”

Walker made his second All-Star appearance this season while averaging 22.1 points and 5.6 assists in 80 games. However, the Hornets are about $17MM over the salary cap for next season and have missed the playoffs the past two years.

There’s more tonight out of Charlotte:

  • The hiring of president and GM Mitch Kupchak and the firing of coach Steve Clifford made headlines this week, but the Hornets are going through a complete overhaul throughout the organization. Most of the training staff and analytics department were dismissed along with Clifford, tweets Chris Mannix of Yahoo Sports. Clifford’s assistants have been retained for now, but they will eventually be replaced (Twitter link).
  • The house cleaning extended to the G League affiliate, where head coach Noel Gillespie will not have his contract extended, the Hornets announced on their website. He compiled a 35-65 record in two seasons with the Greensboro Swarm.
  • Dwight Howard‘s track record under Clifford was an important factor in the decision to trade for him last summer, but Clifford’s departure doesn’t mean Howard will definitely be moved, writes Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer. The biggest factor for Kupchak in a potential Howard deal, Bonnell observes, is what the team would have to accept in return to match Howard’s $23.8MM salary for next season. Howard put up his best numbers in several years, averaging 16.6 points, 12.5 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game.
  • Rookie guard Malik Monk has a lot of work to do this offseason after being limited last summer by a sprained ankle, Bonnell adds in the same story. He states that Monk could be in line for a starting spot if the Hornets decide to trade Walker or Nicolas Batum.

Hornets Notes: Clifford, Bacon, Zeller, Batum

The Hornets have already announced that general manager Rich Cho won’t have his contract renewed after this season, and according to Tom Sorensen of The Charlotte Observer, head coach Steve Clifford probably shouldn’t be retained either.

Despite being one of the best coaches that the city of Charlotte has ever had – in Sorensen’s eyes – Sorensen wonders whether the team has reached a point where the players have stopped listening to Clifford and his message.

The Hornets have been one of the most disappointing teams in the NBA this year. The team was widely expected to compete for a playoff spot, but have been out of the hunt for much of the season, currently sporting a record of 34-41 with seven games remaining after finishing with a similarly disappointing record last season at 36-46.

There’s more out of Charlotte from Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer:

  • The Hornets selected Malik Monk with the 11th overall pick in last year’s draft, with expectations that Monk could come in and help the team this season. However, the Charlotte rookie who has probably ended up having the best season is second-round pick Dwayne Bacon, the 40th overall selection. With that in mind, Bonnell analyzes whether Bacon could end up being the better catch.
  • Hornets big man Cody Zeller missed his 10th consecutive game tonight against the Cavs, leaving Bonnell to wonder whether Zeller may be done for the season. Zeller, who thought he might be ready to play in Dallas on Saturday, said his injured left knee had begun to swell again after he tested it.
  • Part of the Hornets’ problem is a high payroll for next season, leaving the team with few options to improve upon its current roster. One albatross of a contract is that of Nicolas Batum, who is scheduled to make $24MM next season. In a mailbag piece, Bonnell answers some readers’ questions regarding Batum and his contract, among others.

Hornets Notes: Monk, GM Search, Hernangomez

Given all the pricey long-term contracts on the books, blowing up the Hornets’ roster and rebuilding would be a painful process, writes Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer. However, in Bonnell’s view, an overhaul of some sort needs to happen. Eleven players on the current roster have guaranteed contracts for next season, but if the Hornets bring back nearly the same roster in 2018/19, they’re “running themselves into a wall that will not budge,” says Bonnell.

At 28-38, the Hornets aren’t technically eliminated from the postseason, but their playoff hopes are on life support, and the players sound like they know it. “(With) the talent in this room, starting with us, everyone expected something more,” Nicolas Batum said after the team’s latest loss. Marvin Williams also expressed concern about the Hornets’ collective effort.

“It’s been difficult. It hasn’t ever been this way here,” Williams said, per Bonnell. “I remember, even going back to my first year here (the 33-48 season in 2014-15), we weren’t very good, but we still competed, we still defended. We weren’t the most talented, but we played hard. We didn’t just play for ourselves, we played for each other and for coach. Right now, we’re just not giving the effort we need to give.”

Here’s more on the Hornets:

  • Whether or not Michael Carter-Williams is able to get back on the court this season after suffering a shoulder injury, rookie guard Malik Monk should remain in the Hornets’ rotation the rest of the way, Bonnell writes in a separate piece for The Charlotte Observer. With Charlotte’s playoff aspirations no longer realistic, the team needs to see what it has in Monk, according to Bonnell.
  • Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders explores whether it would make sense for the Hornets to hire a veteran executive like Mitch Kupchak as their next general manager, or whether the club would be better off rolling the dice on an unproven candidate with promise.
  • League sources tell Kyler that former Cavs GM David Griffin was contacted by the Hornets as part of their search, but Griffin may not be a serious candidate for the Charlotte position. According to Kyler, the prevailing thought on Griffin is that he’ll want “complete control” in his next job, and the Hornets may not be willing to sign off on that.
  • Speaking to Ben Nadeau of Basketball Insiders, Willy Hernangomez admits that 2017/18 has been a tough season for him, but says he’s comfortable in Charlotte and is happy to get a fresh start. “It’s a new environment and a new chapter, so I have new goals — I feel more free here, they want me to create for others,” Hernangomez said. “Maybe in New York, I was just playing the low-post instead of the pick-and-roll. Here, I can do many things: create offense, maybe three-pointers, rebound, play pick-and-roll — so I feel more comfortable here.”

Bucks Interested In Malik Monk

In addition to looking for help at center, the Bucks are reportedly interested in potentially acquiring a shooting guard before next week’s trade deadline.

According to Gery Woelfel of the Racine Journal Times, one possible candidate is Hornets‘ rookie Malik Monk, who has fallen out of Charlotte’s rotation while working to improve his defense and adjust to the NBA game. League sources tell Woelfel that the Bucks have contacted Charlotte about Monk.

Woelfel adds that there is apparently a split in the Hornets’ hierarchy as to whether the team should hold on to Monk or move him. As highlighted before and mentioned above, the 19-year-old Monk has struggled for much of his rookie season, averaging a lowly 5.2 points per game on 33% shooting from the floor.

Perhaps not coincidentally, Monk’s best game of the season came against Milwaukee on November 1, when he poured in 25 points on five of eight from long range.

The Bucks are currently over the salary cap, but possess a $5MM trade exception that was created when they traded Roy Hibbert to Denver last season. The team also has some non-essential players that could be included in trades for salary-matching purposes.

Southeast Notes: Hood, Walker, Monk, Payton

Rodney Hood‘s ability to score off the bench could make him a perfect fit for the Wizards, writes Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. The 25-year-old Jazz guard seems like a good bet to be traded by the February 8 deadline, and Washington could be among the suitors.

Hood is averaging 16.7 points per game while shooting 41.3% from the field and 38.6% from 3-point range. He has an expiring contract worth a little less than $2.4MM, so matching salaries wouldn’t be difficult.

The Wizards would like to improve their bench and find some relief for Bradley Beal, who is playing about 36 minutes per night. Reserve guard Jodie Meeks, who signed a two-year deal with Washington last summer, is shooting just 36.2% from the field and 30.6% from long distance.

There’s more news from the Southeast Division:

  • Despite rumors over the past week, the Hornets aren’t likely to part with Kemba Walker, according to Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer. Bonnell says coach Steve Clifford seemed genuinely surprised to be asked about the possibility, which is an indication that it hasn’t received serious discussion. Walker, who will be a free agent after next season, is happy in Charlotte and considers it home, Bonnell adds.
  • Unrealistic expectations led to the disappointment over Malik Monk‘s rookie season, Bonnell writes in the same piece. Fans were hoping Monk could be a difference maker when the Hornets took him with the 11th pick in last year’s draft, but he’s only 19 and still needs a lot of improvement on defense. Clifford notes that an ankle sprain over the summer slowed Monk’s development.
  • Magic guard Elfrid Payton has been mentioned in trade rumors, but he is hoping to remain in Orlando and help the franchise improve, relays Spencer Davies of Basketball Insiders. Payton has shown statistical improvement in his fourth NBA season, but the Magic remain at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings. He is trying to ignore the trade talk and focus on the task at hand. “I don’t get caught up into the things like that,” Payton said. “Today I’m an Orlando Magic. I play for the Orlando Magic and I’m gonna give them 100 percent of me. I’m somebody that likes to finish what I started, so I definitely would like to see this through and try to turn this organization around.”

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 12/27/17

Here are the notable G-League transactions around the NBA today:

  • The Hornets have recalled Malik Monk from the Greensboro Swarm, according to the team’s Twitter feed. The 2017 No. 11 overall pick appeared in one G League game and he scored 25 points.
  • The Spurs have assigned Derrick White to the Austin Spurs, according to the team’s website. White has played in six games to date with the G League club and he’s averaging 11.7 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 2.9 assists in 22.3 minutes per game.
  • The Wolves have assigned Justin Patton to the G League, according to the team’s Twitter feed. Patton has already appeared in six games for the Iowa Wolves, scoring 9.5 points per contest.

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 12/25/17

Here are the G-League transactions from around the NBA today:

  • The Hornets assigned rookie forward Dwayne Bacon and guard Malik Monk to their affiliate, the Greensboro Swarm, the team announced in a press release. It’s first assignment for both players. Bacon has appeared in 28 games, averaging 3.6 PPG and 3.1 RPG in 15.9 MPG. Monk has seen action in 29 games, averaging 5.9 PPG and 1.5 APG in 14.5 MPG. Monk, the No. 11 selection in the draft, had two 20-plus point games in early November but has seen his playing time diminish this month.
  • The Trail Blazers are expected to assign rookie power forward Caleb Swanigan to the Canton Charge on Tuesday, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets. The Blazers do not have their own affiliate. Swanigan has only played a total of 10 minutes over the past 18 games.

Southeast Notes: Wizards, Walton Jr., Monk

A lack of depth played a role in the Wizards‘ recent loss to a short-handed Cavaliers team, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington writes. In a matchup where both teams were missing players, the Cavs still managed to hurt them with a capable 10-man rotation.

Hughes writes that the Wizards will be in a better position when John Wall and Markieff Morris completely return to full health but even then it may not be enough to legitimately compete with an elite team like the Cavs.

That presents one question for Washington’s front office; whether the Wizards should make a move prior to the trade deadline considering that a trip to the NBA Finals will almost certainly have to go through Cleveland at some point.

There’s more from the Southeast Division today:

  • Two-way Heat signee Derrick Walton Jr. has already spent at least 22 days with the big league club, Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel writes. The new contract format permits players to spend 45 games total with the NBA squad and the rest with a team in the G League.
  • The Hornets have cut back rookie guard Malik Monk‘s role because of his weak defense, Bryan Kalbrosky of Hoops Hype writes. Charlotte has been outscored by 15.4 points per 100 possessions with Monk on the court, worse than any other player in their 12-man rotation.
  • It’s reasonable to picture Heat president Pat Riley showing an interest in Paul George if he were to be made available by the Thunder. Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel discussed the possibility in a question-and-answer feature with readers.