Mark Williams

Hornets Sign Mark Williams, Bryce McGowens

The Hornets have signed center Mark Williams to his rookie contract, the team announced in a press release today. Williams was drafted No. 15 overall by the club in this year’s draft. Charlotte also announced the team’s second-round pick, Bryce McGowens, has officially signed his two-way deal.

Assuming the typical 120% of the rookie scale, Williams’ deal will be worth $18MM across four seasons. He’ll make $3.7MM in his first year with the team. The 7’0″ big man averaged 11.2 points, 7.4 rebounds and 2.8 blocks in 23.5 minutes per game at Duke last season.

McGowens, a 19-year-old guard, started in all 31 games he played with Nebraska last year. He averaged 16.8 points and 5.2 rebounds per game, shooting 40% from the floor and 27% from deep.

Both Williams and McGowens will play for Charlotte during the Las Vegas Summer League, which begins next week. The Hornets missed the playoffs last season and finished with a 43-39 record.

Hornets Notes: Williams, Coaching Search, McGowens

The Hornets were considering three centers heading into Thursday’s draft, but Duke’s Mark Williams was at the top of their list, writes Varun Shankar of The Charlotte Observer. Williams opened eyes with his measurements at the draft combine and will have the longest standing reach in the NBA at 9’9″. General manager Mitch Kupchak likes the idea of Williams catching lob passes from LaMelo Ball, but he said the 20-year-old big man needs to improve as a rebounder and add strength to get ready for the next level.

“He has a lot of work in getting stronger and I don’t have any doubt that he’ll work hard and get in the weight room,” Kupchak said. “He’s a good rebounder, I wouldn’t say that he’s gonna be our rebound monster right now, but I think if he gets stronger, I think he can become an excellent rebounder.”

The Hornets actually drafted Memphis center Jalen Duren first, but he was traded to the Knicks and ultimately to the Pistons. Charlotte received a protected first-round pick and four second-rounders in return, and Kupchak explained that the team wasn’t comfortable adding two more rookies after having three on the roster this season.

“We didn’t feel using both picks was prudent,” he said.

There’s more from Charlotte:

  • Kupchak also spoke about Kenny Atkinson‘s decision to reconsider his agreement to become the Hornets’ next head coach, per Steve Reed of The Associated Press. Kupchak has been discussing the situation with owner Michael Jordan and indicated the organization may consider some new possibilities. “We have spent a lot of time going over candidates, maybe some new candidates and making sure we cover our bases,” Kupchak said. “We have never felt the need to rush this process. We want to pick the right coach — and we thought we did.”
  • Former Hornets head coach Steve Clifford met with Kupchak and Jordan this week and is now considered to be a serious candidate for the position, sources tell Roderick Boone and Scott Fowler of The Charlotte Observer. Jordan also met with Mike D’Antoni, who was considered the runner-up when the offer was made to Atkinson.
  • Nebraska’s Bryce McGowens, whom Charlotte traded up to draft at No. 40, is likely to be given a two-way contract, Boone tweets.

Givony’s Latest: Sharpe, Magic, Kings, Duarte, Suns, Knicks, More

Kentucky’s Shaedon Sharpe, perhaps the biggest enigma of the 2022 NBA draft, is the subject of several rumors in Jonathan Givony’s latest mock draft at ESPN.com (Insider link).

Givony has Sharpe coming off the board at No. 7 to Portland, writing that Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard is believed to be a fan of the young guard, despite the fact that Sharpe is 12 years younger than Lillard and is on a “completely different timetable.”

A pair of teams picking later in the lottery may also have their sights set on Sharpe. The Thunder, who hold the No. 12 pick, continue to pursue trade-up opportunities, according to Givony, who says Sharpe and Jaden Ivey are among the players Oklahoma City appears to be targeting.

Meanwhile, Sharpe is also said to intrigue the Hornets if they trade up from No. 13, Givony writes, noting that the Kentucky guard surprised other teams when he opted to work out for Charlotte.

Here are a few more of the most interesting tidbits from Givony’s newest mock:

  • Virtually every NBA team expects the Magic to select Jabari Smith first overall and would be surprised if they go in a different direction.
  • The Kings are considered more likely to stand pat than to trade the No. 4 pick, but they’ve had discussions with almost every team behind them in the lottery and even some outside of the lottery, per Givony. Pacers wing Chris Duarte is among the possible trade targets the Kings have done their homework on, Givony adds.
  • Surprisingly, Givony has heard the Suns are among the clubs exploring trade scenarios involving the Pelicans‘ No. 8 pick. Givony suggests Phoenix could potentially include a player like Cameron Johnson in its offer to help create more long-term cap flexibility to retain Deandre Ayton.
  • There’s a widespread belief that the Knicks won’t end up picking at No. 11, Givony reports. they’re “aggressively” exploring scenarios in which they trade back or trade out of the first round.
  • Rival teams believe the Cavaliers are high on Ousmane Dieng, though he could be off the board by No. 14, says Givony.
  • Echoing multiple recent reports, Givony identifies Hawks big man John Collins as a major draft-day trade candidate. Givony goes a step further, suggesting that Collins could even be packaged with Kevin Huerter in a deal involving the Kings‘ No. 4 overall pick.
  • The Bucks (No. 24) are eyeing older prospects who could help them win right away, such as Andrew Nembhard, Jake LaRavia, Christian Braun and Ismael Kamagate, according to Givony, who has heard from rival teams that Milwaukee has also conveyed some interest in trading up into the teens, possibly for a big man like Mark Williams and Walker Kessler.

Southeast Notes: Beal, M. Williams, Ross, Atkinson, Hornets Workout

Bradley Beal didn’t provide any hints regarding free agency during a public appearance today, but he revealed that “a lot” of players have been encouraging him to join their teams, writes Noah Trister of The Associated Press. Beal is facing a decision on a $36.4MM player option for next season that will have a huge effect on the Wizards‘ future, but he didn’t give any indication on which way he’s leaning.

The star guard did provide an update on his injured left wrist, which required surgery in February that brought his season to an early end. He said the recovery process is going well and estimates that 80-90% of his range of motion has returned.

“The rest is going to be strengthening and stuff,” he said. “I’m cleared to do stuff on the court now, which is good.”

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • After working out for the Wizards today, Mark Williams said it’s the last one on his schedule before Thursday’s draft, tweets Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. The Duke center also had sessions with the Hornets, Knicks, Spurs and Bulls.
  • The Magic are still trying to find a taker for Terrence Ross, per Michael Scotto of HoopsHype. Prior to February’s deadline, Orlando was asking for a first-round pick in exchange for the 31-year-old swingman, but Scotto says teams are hoping the price will fall to multiple second-rounders, just as it did when the Magic traded Evan Fournier. Ross has an expiring $11.5MM contract for next season.
  • Before changing his mind about becoming the Hornets‘ next head coach, Kenny Atkinson called all the team’s current assistants and had planned to meet with every staff member before the draft, tweets Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report.
  • The Hornets hosted six players in a pre-draft workout today, the team tweeted. On hand were Keve Aluma of Virginia Tech, Jamaree Bouyea of San Francisco, Yoan Makoundou of Cholet Basket in France, Wendell Moore of Duke, Scotty Pippen Jr. of Vanderbilt and Jaden Shackelford of Alabama. Charlotte owns the 13th, 15th and 45th picks in the draft.

Southeast Draft Notes: Holmgren, Hornets, Williams, O’Neal

Chet Holmgren met with the Magic‘s front office on Wednesday and Thursday, writes Matt Murschel of The Orlando Sentinel. Holmgren is the No. 1 prospect on ESPN’s big board, although his thin frame has caused some other talent evaluators to drop him a bit lower than that.

A person with knowledge of the situation tells Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press that the 20-year-old’s visit included “meetings, interviews and a dinner.” The Magic previously held a solo workout with Jabari Smith, and Paolo Banchero “expects to meet with” Orlando before the draft on June 23, according to Reynolds.

The big men are widely considered the top three prospects in the draft, and the Magic hold the No. 1 overall pick, so it makes perfect sense that they’re meeting with all of them.

In 32 games (26.9 MPG) in his lone college season with Gonzaga, Holmgren was a consensus All-American with averages of 14.1 PPG, 9.9 RPG, 1.9 APG and 3.7 BPG on .607/.390/.717 shooting.

Here are a few more draft-related notes from the Southeast Division:

  • The Hornets, who control the Nos. 13, 15 and 45 picks in the 2022 draft, are hosting a group workout on Friday (Twitter link) featuring Malaki Branham, MarJon Beauchamp, Kendall Brown, Bryce McGowens, Isaiah Whaley and Trevion Williams. Branham (No. 13) and Beauchamp (No. 23) are both projected first-round picks, with McGowens (No. 33) and Brown (No. 38) considered early second-rounders. Williams also has a solid shot to get drafted going by ESPN’s rankings, as he’s No. 56 on the board, but Whaley isn’t listed.
  • Mark Williams has a solo workout with the Wizards on Saturday, tweets Josh Robbins of The Athletic. Williams is a potential lottery picked at No. 14 on ESPN’s board, and Washington controls the No. 10 pick. The 7’0″ center averaged 11.2 PPG, 7.4 RPG and 2.8 BPG while shooting 72.1% from the floor and 72.7% from the free-throw line in 39 games (23.6 MPG) as a sophomore for Duke this season, winning ACC Defensive Player of the Year in the process.
  • Shareef O’Neal worked out for the Heat on Thursday, Robbins relays in another tweet. O’Neal only averaged 2.9 PPG and 2.1 RPG in 14 games (9.2 MPG) as a junior for LSU and isn’t considered a strong draft candidate, but perhaps he could be auditioning for summer league as an undrafted free agent. Miami currently controls the No. 27 pick.

Draft Notes: Green Room, Draft Targets, Comps, Mock, Minott

The list of prospects invited to the green room on draft night has expanded to 16, tweets ESPN’s Jonathan Givony. The list includes all of the top-16 ranked players on ESPN’s big boardChet Holmgren, Jabari Smith, Paolo Banchero, Jaden Ivey, Keegan Murray, Dyson DanielsShaedon Sharpe, Bennedict Mathurin, AJ Griffin, Jalen Duren, Johnny Davis, Ousmane DiengMalaki BranhamMark Williams, Jeremy Sochan and Ochai Agbaji.

A source tells Givony that the list could expand further, with four more invites still a possibility. The draft is nine days away.

Here are some more draft-related notes:

Hornets Notes: M. Williams, Sharpe, Wesley, Atkinson

The Hornets’ need for a defensive anchor in the middle makes Duke center Mark Williams an intriguing option in the draft, writes Roderick Boone of The Charlotte Observer. Williams, who worked out for Charlotte on Friday, believes he could fill a need if the team selects him with the 13th or 15th pick.

“I feel like I’d bring that immediate rim protection,” Williams said, “that guy that can run the floor, be that lob threat on the offensive end, and also be somebody that plays hard every night and ultimately just wants to win.”

There’s a danger that Williams could move out of Charlotte’s range. His draft stock has been rising since last month’s combine when measurements showed that he had the longest reach and wingspan and ranked second in height among the participants.

No matter where he lands, Williams, who was a finalist for Naismith Defensive Player of the Year honors, sees himself in a role similar to what Robert Williams does for the Celtics.

“Obviously, he’s battling injury right now,” Mark Williams said. “But that’s a guy who plays defense, catches lobs, runs the floor, does a little bit of everything for them.”

There’s more from Charlotte:

  • Also conducting a solo workout for the Hornets on Friday was Kentucky’s Shaedon Sharpe, Boone adds in the same piece. Sharpe may be taken in the top half of the lottery, but he acknowledged that some teams are uncertain about him because he didn’t play in college. “Most of the questions that teams got is how will I come out and play,” Sharpe said. “I’ve haven’t played in about a year, but for me I feel like that’s really not any big deal because as a basketball player once you start playing and getting back into the flow, it (doesn’t) really matter. Just keep playing.”
  • The workout that Notre Dame guard Blake Wesley had with Charlotte today is his third so far, tweets James Boyd of The Indianapolis Star. Wesley also had sessions with the Hawks and Nuggets.
  • New head coach Kenny Atkinson has a reputation for developing young talent, but his success will be determined by the progress of LaMelo Ball and his ability to improve the Hornets’ defense, contends Scott Fowler of The Raleigh News & Observer.

Southeast Notes: Hornets Workouts, Atkinson, Wizards

The Hornets hosted a couple of potential lottery picks for solo workouts on Friday, the team announced (Twitter links): Duke’s Mark Williams, who is ranked No. 14 on ESPN’s big board, and Shaedon Sharpe, who is ranked No. 7 due to his enormous upside despite not playing a game for Kentucky. The Hornets control the Nos. 13, 15 and 45 picks in the 2022 NBA draft.

Williams has been linked to Charlotte multiple times in mock drafts, which makes perfect sense since he’s a rim-running, paint-protecting center with great size and athleticism. He could fill a major weak spot if he’s NBA-ready, as the team has lacked a big man in that mold for several years.

Sharpe seems unlikely to fall to No. 13, so the Hornets were probably just doing their due diligence and getting a look at a player who hasn’t played competitively in nearly a year, but they theoretically could package their picks in order to move up and select him.

The team also hosted a group workout on Friday (Twitter link) featuring Michigan State’s Max Christie, UConn’s R.J. Cole, Richmond’s Grant Golden, Furman’s Alex Hunter, France’s Ismael Kamagate, and Brazil’s Gui Santos. Kamagate and Christie are the highest-rated prospects among the group at Nos. 40 and 45, respectively, so they could be possibilities for Charlotte’s second-rounder.

Here’s more from the Southeast:

  • Alex Schiffer of The Athletic explores what the Hornets are getting in new head coach Kenny Atkinson, noting that Atkinson earned league-wide praise by establishing a culture in Brooklyn that was reminiscent of a college team, something the Nets have sorely lacked since he resigned in 2020. Known as a meticulous worker who embraces analytics, Atkinson used to physically participate in Nets practices, writes Schiffer, adding that Atkinson appears to be entering a better situation in Charlotte than his previous head coaching job in Brooklyn.
  • The Wizards are among the teams weighing the idea of trading their lottery pick (No. 10 overall) in a possible win-now move, Marc Stein reports in his latest article for Substack.
  • Fresno State’s Orlando Robinson and Kansas’ David McCormack will work out for the Wizards on Saturday, tweets Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. Robinson is ranked No. 77 on ESPN’s board, so he could be a possibility for the team’s second-round pick, which is No. 56 overall.

Draft Rumors: Magic, Smith, Pacers, Sharpe, Jovic, More

Echoing what ESPN’s Jonathan Givony reported last month, Jeremy Woo of SI.com says the “general expectation” around the league is that Jabari Smith is the favorite to be picked first overall by the Magic in the 2022 NBA draft. Woo notes that Orlando is doing its due diligence on several prospects at the top of this year’s draft class, but his “gut feeling” is that the team will ultimately land on Smith.

Woo’s latest mock draft for SI.com includes several other interesting tidbits. Here are a few highlights:

  • Keegan Murray and Jaden Ivey are the two prospects most frequently linked to the Pacers by rival teams, though it’s unclear if either of them will still be available when Indiana picks at No. 6, Woo writes, adding that No. 6 appears to be Murray’s floor.
  • Shaedon Sharpe earned some buzz at last month’s draft combine, but “some of that excitement has turned to trepidation” since teams left Chicago, according to Woo who suggests that Sharpe’s individual workouts will go a long way toward determining how he’s regarded by lottery teams.
  • Woo has heard that Serbian wing Nikola Jovic would like to come to the NBA right away, so he won’t necessarily be a draft-and-stash pick.
  • Some people around the NBA believe the Thunder may look to package their No. 12 pick and a future pick or two to acquire a second top-10 selection, says Woo. Oklahoma City also controls the second overall pick.
  • Rival teams believe the Knicks will likely target a point guard or a big man at No. 11, per Woo, who believes it’s possible both Mark Williams and Jalen Duren will be available at that spot. TyTy Washington‘s name has also come up in Woo’s conversations as a player to watch at No. 11.Washington worked out on Monday for the Knicks and told reporters, including Ian Begley of SNY.tv (Twitter link) that he also workouts on tap with the Pelicans (No. 8), Spurs (No. 9), Wizards (No. 10), and Cavaliers (No. 14).

Draft Rumors: Top Two Picks, Daniels, Nembhard, Matkovic, More

Magic executives have made it clear they’ll do their homework on all their options for the No. 1 pick, even beyond Jabari Smith, Chet Holmgren, and Paolo Banchero, writes Jonathan Givony of ESPN (Insider link).

However, most NBA teams believe that process will be a formality and consider Smith to be the clear favorite to become the Magic’s pick, according to Givony. NBA executives also overwhelmingly view Holmgren as the probable No. 2 pick for the Thunder, Givony adds.

Givony and his fellow ESPN draft expert Mike Schmitz shared several more tidbits based on their conversations with talent evaluators at last week’s combine in Chicago. Let’s round up a few highlights…

  • NBA teams were “buzzing” about Dyson Daniels‘ performance in Chicago at his Pro Day, comparing him to NBA players like Tyrese Haliburton and Khris Middleton, according to Givony, who has moved the G League Ignite wing up to No. 6 on ESPN’s big board.
  • Andrew Nembhard‘s willingness to play through a minor quad injury and his strong performance in the second game of the combine scrimmages helped boost his stock. The Gonzaga guard “leapfrogged” a handful of players who sat out the scrimmages and has a legitimate shot to be drafted near the end of the first round, says Givony.
  • Croatian big man Karlo Matkovic was one of the under-the-radar risers as a result of his combine showing. He’s considered far more likely to be drafted than he was a week ago, and his agency says he’s had more requests for private workouts than he has available dates, per Givony.
  • Mark Williams‘ 9’9″ standing reach will make him the longest player in the NBA, according to Schmitz, who says the Duke center has a chance to be selected ahead of Jalen Duren in the lottery.
  • Canadian prospect Leonard Miller looked a step slow during the combine scrimmages and now appears more likely to attend college at Arizona or join the G League Ignite rather than staying in the draft, writes Givony.