Marvin Williams

Hornets Rumors: Kemba, Vets, Future Plans, McDaniels

Hornets president of basketball operations Mitch Kupchak tells Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer that the team was somewhat blindsided by Kemba Walker earning All-NBA honors and becoming eligible for a super-max contract earlier this year. Although Walker wasn’t demanding the full super-max (approximately $221MM over five years), the gap between what he sought and what Charlotte was willing to offer was too significant to bridge the gap.

“We had great years with him, and we didn’t get into the playoffs,” Kupchak said of the All-Star point guard. “What makes us think that next year (would) be different? I’ve got to step back and look at where we’ve been and where we’re going. Chart out a course that gives us the best chance to build something that is sustainable for more than a year or two.”

The Hornets have faced criticism for not getting what they could for Walker in a pre-deadline trade in February, but Kupchak tells Bonnell that the club was confident in its chances of re-signing Kemba at that point and wasn’t impressed with the offers it received on the trade market.

“Almost every offer revolved around draft picks. It was always lottery-protected,” Kupchak said. “When you do something like that, you’re saying you’re going to draft a player in the teens, we don’t know how good he’s going to be, and it’s going to take three or four years (to realize value). We wanted to keep Kemba — under the right conditions.”

We don’t know the specifics on what the Hornets were offered for Walker, so we’ll take Kupchak at his word that those offers didn’t provide enough value to be worthwhile.

Still, it’s fair to take the front office to task for the assertion that it didn’t see Walker’s All-NBA nod and super-max eligibility coming. The former UConn standout scored 41 points on opening night last fall and played at an elite level all season, singlehandedly keeping Charlotte in the playoff hunt. To claim the team was blindsided by Kemba’s super-max eligibility is either disingenuous or signals a worrisome lack of foresight.

Here’s more from Bonnell on the Hornets:

  • Head coach James Borrego is under no obligation to give significant minutes to Nicolas Batum, Bismack Biyombo, Marvin Williams, Cody Zeller, and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who will earn a combined $85MM in 2019/20. “I’m not going to coach a team based on contracts, what you’re making, where you were drafted, if you were drafted,” Borrego said. “To me, that’s not my job. My job is to get the most out of them, whether they were drafted or not drafted.”
  • While those veterans will get a chance to compete for roles, Borrego wants to make sure the team’s young prospects play consistent minutes, either in Charlotte or in the G League. “We’re not going to have draft picks on our bench who are just sitting there,” the head coach told Bonnell. “If they’re not playing meaningful minutes for us in Charlotte, I promise you they will be playing minutes in Greensboro.”
  • The Hornets “didn’t even contemplate” using their mid-level exception this offseason, according to Kupchak, who explained to Bonnell that no one in that price range would have “changed the course of this organization.”
  • The Hornets also won’t rely on free agency going forward to reshape their roster, preferring instead to use any future cap flexibility to re-sign young players or to accommodate trades. “Free agent signings, for us, are not something we need to concentrate on going forward. We’re not going to get the ‘Big Fish,'” Kupchak said. “We have to create a culture where those kinds of players would want to come here. And, quite frankly, we’re not there yet. For us to hoard cap room (for that purpose) is not in the best interest of the organization.”
  • In a tweet, Bonnell adds a couple more Hornets-related items, reporting that there’s no indication the club is involved in ongoing trade talks that would jettison a veteran contract. Additionally, Charlotte would like to get unsigned second-rounder Jalen McDaniels locked up in a developmental role, per Bonnell. It sounds like the team’s preference may be for McDaniels to sign a G League contract.

And-Ones: Durant, Westbrook, Stoudemire

Many assume that Kevin Durant will miss the entire 2019/20 season, but it appears that’s not a given quite yet. GM Sean Marks said it’s “too early” to make a definitive timeline on Durant’s Nets debut.

 “A timeline will be given in due time, but as of now, we’re certainly not going to comment on when or if and make any sort of hypotheticals. It’s too early,” Marks said (via Nets Daily).

Durant is familiar with the medical staff in Brooklyn. Dr. Martin O’Malley, a foot and ankle specialist who is the team’s orthopaedic surgeon, performed the surgery to repair Durant’s Achilles. Despite the connection, the former MVP’s decision to join the Nets caught many in the basketball world by surprise, including some within Brooklyn’s front office.

“The Instagram post that he put up [announcing he’d sign with the Nets], we were all sitting in the office. We all got that in real time with you guys. We weren’t even sure if we were getting a meeting that night or if it was going to be a telephone conversation,” Marks said of finding out about Durant’s decision. The GM added that he hadn’t even spoken to Durant’s business partner Rich Kleiman yet.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • The Magic are unlikely to have interest in Russell Westbrook, Josh Robbins of The Athletic relays (Twitter link). The long-time Thunder point guard is reportedly open to a trade.
  • Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer believes Marvin Williams is the veteran on the Hornets‘ roster most likely to be traded. Williams is making $15MM next season and Bonnell thinks the power forward’s game would mesh well with nearly every roster in the league.
  • Amar’e Stoudemire, who worked out in front of a number of teams this week, is serious about returning to the NBA. “I was never really done,’’ Stoudemire said, as Marc Berman of the New York Post relays. “I took kind of a sabbatical leave and I went to go learn over in Israel for two and a half years or so. So I went there and when I was still learning, I was able to also play basketball and keep myself in shape. I always stayed in top shape. I didn’t really remove myself too far from being in basketball shape.”

Hornets Notes: Luxury Tax, Kemba, Lamb, Rookies

With more than $94MM in guaranteed salaries on their books for the 2019/20 season, without taking into account a potential maximum-salary contract ($32.7MM) for Kemba Walker, the Hornets look like a potential taxpayer for next year. However, speaking early Friday morning to reporters, including Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer, president of basketball operations Mitch Kupchak made it sound as if being in the tax isn’t an option for the franchise.

“I would not anticipate that is something we would look to do,” Kupchak said of paying the tax. “There are ways to increase (the distance from the luxury-tax threshold). It’s important we address that as soon as possible. Everybody needs to get on and plan.”

As Bonnell observes, there are multiple paths the Hornets could take to stay out of the tax. They have a handful of highly-paid veterans on expiring contracts, so waiving-and-stretching a player like Bismack Biyombo ($17MM) could be one option. The team could also try trading someone like Marvin Williams ($15MM).

Of course, not re-signing key free agents like Walker and Jeremy Lamb is also a possibility, though I expect the team to do all it can to retain Kemba. Lamb may receive an offer in the neighborhood of $12MM per year from another club, Bonnell writes.

Here’s more on the Hornets:

  • Re-signing Walker would have a domino effect on what the Hornets could do with the rest of their roster, Kupchak acknowledged (via Bonnell): “You’re talking about a substantial contract that goes out many years. When that happens, it creates some financial inflexibility that you have to deal with We have to be mindful of a Kemba contract, should we be lucky enough to re-sign him. There could be limitations (on other roster moves), absolutely.”
  • Kupchak recently indicated that the Hornets are probably unlikely to use their $7.8MM trade exception from last summer’s Dwight Howard trade due to tax concerns, tweets Bonnell. That exception expires on July 6.
  • The Hornets plan on having all three of the rookies they drafted on Thursday – PJ Washington, Cody Martin, and Jalen McDaniels – spend time in the G League in 2019/20, Kupchak said (per Bonnell).
  • In a column for The Charlotte Observer, Bonnell explores how much added pressure the Lakers’ trade for Anthony Davis and interest in Kemba Walker will put on the Hornets.

Hornets’ Marvin Williams Opts In For 2019/20

Hornets forward Marvin Williams has exercised his player option for the 2019/20 season, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter). With that option locked in, Williams is now on track to reach unrestricted free agency in 2020, and will earn $15,006,250 next season, per Basketball Insiders.

Williams, the second overall pick in the 2005 draft, is coming off another solid season in which he averaged 10.1 PPG, 5.4 RPG, and 1.2 APG with a .422/.366/.767 shooting line for Charlotte.

A forward like Williams, who can guard multiple positions and knock down three-pointers (.378 3PT% since joining the Hornets in 2014), would probably do reasonably well on the open market. However, the former UNC standout is entering his age-33 season and almost certainly wouldn’t match his $15MM option salary in free agency.

Williams said in April during his exit interview with reporters that he intended to pick up his option, so today’s news doesn’t come as a surprise. Two Hornets veterans – Williams and Bismack Biyombo – have now officially opted in for 2019/20, adding approximately $32MM to the club’s commitments for next season.

The Hornets are currently carrying about $81MM in guaranteed salaries, and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist still seems like a good bet to pick up his own $13MM player option. If he does, it would push team salary above $94MM without taking into account a new deal for Kemba Walker, limiting Charlotte’s ability to significantly upgrade its roster whether or not Walker returns.

Williams will become the eighth veteran this spring to officially exercise a player option, as our tracker indicates.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Marvin Williams Plans To Exercise Player Option

One of three Hornets veterans with player options for 2019/20, forward Marvin Williams said today that he doesn’t intend to opt out of his deal this summer, according to Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer (Twitter link).

“I’ll be back,” Williams said.

Williams, the second overall pick in the 2005 draft, is coming off another solid season in which he averaged 10.1 PPG, 5.4 RPG, and 1.2 APG with a .422/.366/.767 shooting line for Charlotte.

A forward like Williams, who can guard multiple positions and knock down three-pointers (.378 3PT% since joining the Hornets in 2014), would probably do reasonably well on the open market.

However, the former UNC standout is entering his age-33 season and is already on a favorable contract — his 2019/20 option will pay him just over $15MM. As such, exercising that option makes sense.

It wouldn’t be surprise if all three Hornets with player options ultimately decide to opt in, putting off free agency for another year. Besides Williams, Bismack Biyombo ($17MM) and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist ($13MM) will have decisions to make before the new league year begins.

If all three players pick up their options, it would add about $45MM to Charlotte’s cap for 2019/20, reducing the club’s flexibility to make upgrades, whether or not Kemba Walker decides to return.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Southeast Notes: Carter-Williams, Hornets, McRae

A familiarity with Magic coach Steve Clifford and his staff made signing with Orlando an easy decision for Michael Carter-Williams, relays Roy Parry of The Orlando Sentinel. Carter-Williams, who played for Clifford last season with the Hornets, inked a 10-day deal with the Magic yesterday to provide point guard depth after the loss of Isaiah Briscoe.

“Knowing the coaches and having a relationship with them makes it definitely easy for me to fit in, just to come in right away and already know some of the plays and defensive schemes and be ready to go,” Carter-Williams said.

He had been out of the NBA since being waived by the Bulls on January 7, shortly after being acquired in a trade with the Rockets. He is thrilled to get another shot at the NBA after averaging just 9.1 minutes in 16 games with Houston.

“Orlando was one of my places that I actually wanted to go,” Carter-Williams added. “I felt like it was a good spot for me. I felt like I could come in right away and help. And then having Coach Cliff, I know the system already, so when they called it was kind of a no-brainer.”

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • Hornets fan may have to wait another year before management can drastically remake the team, writes Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer. Bismack Biyombo ($17MM), Marvin Williams ($15MM) and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist ($13MM) all have player options they are expected to exercise this summer. Bonnell expects the team to keep all three for another year rather than trying to seek trades, which would involve giving up other assets.
  • The Hornets will take another look at whether to use a $7,819,725 trade exception in early July, Bonnell adds in the same piece. The exception expires on July 6, and the team will likely know the fate of free agents Kemba Walker and Jeremy Lamb by then. If both decide to leave Charlotte, the trade exception could be an easy path for the team to acquire a veteran replacement.
  • Wizards coach Scott Brooks told reporters before tonight’s game that Jordan McRae could be spending a lot of time with the team through the end of the season, tweets Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. McRae is on a two-way contract, but his 45-day NBA limit won’t matter once the G League season ends on March 23.

Southeast Notes: Williams, Howard, Whiteside, Clifford

Hornets forward Marvin Williams has a right shoulder strain, an MRI on Monday confirmed, according to a team press release. Williams suffered the injury on Sunday and will be re-evaluated next week. Lottery pick Miles Bridges, who scored a career-high 16 points in 29 minutes against New Orleans, will see his role expand during Williams’ absence. Williams is averaging 8.3 PPG and 5.1 RPG in 24.8 MPG.

We have more from around the Southeast Division:

  • Wizards center Dwight Howard is more likely to exercise his player option for next season after undergoing surgery last week, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington notes. Howard underwent a spinal procedure to correct a gluteal ailment and will be sidelined for two to three months. He has a $5.6MM option and if he exercises it, it’d likely push the Wizards further over the projected cap. Washington already has $111MM in salary guarantees to just five players next season.
  • Heat center Hassan Whiteside has often been out of the late-game mix, David Wilson of the Miami Herald reports. Prior to his 23-point, 20-rebound outburst against Utah on Sunday, Whiteside had not played more than 25 minutes in the team’s previous four games.
  • Prior health scares related to a lack of sleep has caused lifestyle changes for Magic coach Steve Clifford, as Shaun Powell of NBA.com details. Clifford now gets a normal amount of sleep and he feels he can now more effectively perform his job. “I feel great, I feel like I have a lot more energy,” he told Powell. “Getting seven hours every night, I find that very relaxing. I’ve developed other interests.”

Southeast Notes: Riley, Whiteside, M. Williams, Carter

Heat president Pat Riley told his players just before the season started that he was pulling out of trade talks with the Timberwolves involving Jimmy Butler, according to Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. Riley held a team meeting October 14 in which he acknowledged that negotiations had been going on and apologized to players whose names became public in trade rumors. That was just days after the teams nearly completed a deal that would have sent a package that included Josh Richardson and a protected first-round pick to Minnesota. However, Riley didn’t guarantee that negotiations with the Wolves wouldn’t resume.

Today’s trade that sent Butler to the Sixers eliminates that as a possibility. With about $130MM in salary, Miami is hovering above the $123.7MM luxury tax threshold and would face a $9.7MM tax payment if the team can’t trim $6.3MM by the end of the season. Riley said Thursday that the team isn’t currently active on the trade market, but tax concerns may change that before the February deadline.

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • Heat center Hassan Whiteside, who has reportedly been on the trade block for several months, is “changing his mindset to be great,” teammate Bam Adebayo tells Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press. Whiteside posted his best game in a long time Wednesday with 29 points, 20 rebounds and nine blocked shots. “I think a lot of people had written me off,” Whiteside said. “That’s fine. I don’t need anybody’s justification. But I feel like if I do those things for myself, it’ll put me in the conversation of being an All-Star, being defensive player of the year.”
  • Marvin Williams says the players were thrilled this summer when they learned that Tony Parker was leaving the Spurs to join the Hornets as a free agent, writes Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype. Parker brought championship experience to Charlotte, having won four titles in San Antonio. “He’s so willing to teach everyone and he’s very patient with all of us,” Williams said. “He’s obviously been in certain situations that a lot of us haven’t been able to experience yet, so that knowledge and that wisdom really helps us.”
  • Williams believes the way the game has changed in recent years has helped the HawksVince Carter stay productive at age 41, relays Brendan Marks of The Charlotte Observer. Carter still displays his vertical leap on occasion, but he has prolonged his career with a deadly jump shot. “As the league has evolved, he’s almost benefited from it because he still can guard multiple positions, and he can still really shoot the lights out,” Williams said.

Eastern Notes: Boylan, Hornets, Saric, Yabusele

Former Cavaliers assistant coach Jim Boylan has filed an age-discrimination lawsuit against the franchise, which the team has labelled “frivolous” and a “shameless cash grab,” according to an Associated Press report. Boylan, 63, worked five seasons under former coaches David Blatt and Tyronn Lue but did not have his option picked up this summer. Boylan contends GM Koby Altman told him owner Dan Gilbert wanted a younger coach.

We have more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • The Hornets have used a committee approach at the center spot and that position is likely to remain in flux, Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer reports. Starter Cody Zeller, Willy Hernangomez, Marvin Williams, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Nicolas Batum, Frank Kaminsky and Bismack Biyombo have all taken turns in the middle but first-year coach James Borrego isn’t worried. “We’re still searching (but) I like the dilemma I have,” he told Bonnell.
  • Sixers coach Brett Brown is allowing forward Dario Saric to work through his shooting slump, Sarah Todd of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. Saric has scored in single digits in each of the last three games while shooting 2-for-13 from long range. Brown has no plans to reduce Saric’s workload. “If he came to me and said, ‘I need some time,’ I would listen,” Brown said. “But I don’t feel like I’m force-feeding anything, I do not feel like I’m hurting him. In fact, I feel like I’m helping him.”
  • Guerschon Yabusele’s option was picked up for next season because his game fits the modern NBA, according to coach Brad Stevens, and the Celtics believe the 22-year-old has high upside, the team’s PR department tweets. Boston’s brass decided to retain Yabusele despite a cap hit of $3,117,240, a figure that could grow if Boston pays the luxury tax. The 6’8” Yabusele has played just 18 minutes this season after seeing action in 33 games in his rookie campaign. But with several players hitting the free agent market next summer, the Celtics felt Yabusele was too valuable to give up, Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald notes. “Having Guerschon gives us continuity. He knows our system,” GM Danny Ainge said. “He’s loved by everybody. It’s just not easy to find that type of player.”

Hornets Notes: Monk, Lamb, Batum, Howard

The Hornets’ choices for backup point guards were influenced by the drafting of Malik Monk in the first round, writes Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer. In a mailbag column, Bonnell states that because Monk is an undersized shooting guard with defensive limitations, the team needed larger point guards to pair with him who are better at stopping opponents. That’s why they signed Michael Carter-Williams and Julyan Stone, both 6’6″, when other options were available.

Another factor was cost, as Charlotte was concerned about staying under the luxury tax threshold of about $119MM and was financially limited after trading for Dwight Howard‘s $23.5MM salary. Carter-Williams agreed to a one-year, $2.7MM deal in July, while Stone accepted a minimum-salary contract in August after negotiating a release from his team in Italy.

Bonnell offers more insight into the Hornets:

  • Monk should be fully recovered from a sprained left ankle that caused him to miss the Orlando Summer League. The 11th overall pick suffered the injury during a draft workout and was sidelined for several weeks, which coach Steve Clifford said affected his conditioning. Monk probably won’t see a lot of playing time early in the season, Bonnell writes, but he should be fully healthy for the team’s October 18 opener.
  • Jeremy Lamb has impressed the coaching staff with his work this offseason, but he’s not a threat to take Nicolas Batum‘s starting job. Lamb has been a valuable reserve during his two seasons in Charlotte, and Bonnell says the team needs Batum’s playmaking skills and overall versatility in the starting lineup.
  • The roles of the big men haven’t been firmly established heading into camp. Howard is expected to start at center with Marvin Williams at power forward, but Cody Zeller and Frank Kaminsky could both make a push for more playing time. Howard’s reputation as a poor free throw shooter could limit his fourth quarter minutes, just as it did in Atlanta, with Zeller getting more use late in games.