Nick Richards

Southeast Notes: Hornets, Oubre, Dinwiddie, Lawson, Heat

In the weeks leading up to free agency, the Hornets were said to be looking to add multiple centers to their roster and were linked to top free agents like Richaun Holmes and Nerlens Noel in addition to intriguing trade candidates like Myles Turner.

The Hornets ultimately took a quieter approach to addressing the center position, accommodating a salary-dump deal for Mason Plumlee and selecting Kai Jones with the 19th pick in the draft. As Steve Reed of The Associated Press writes, president of basketball operations Mitch Kupchak‘ comments to reporters on Tuesday suggested that Plumlee will probably be the starter in 2021/22 but isn’t necessarily a long-term solution.

“Our thought process was to get somebody that’s a veteran under a reasonable contract and also give these young guys a chance to grow a little bit, and maybe a year from now they’re going to be the guys that maybe we should’ve pursued this year in free agency,” Kupchak said.

As Reed notes, besides Jones, the Hornets also have young bigs like Vernon Carey and Nick Richards on the roster, so the team will be focused on developing all of them this season. In the interim, Charlotte was happy to play it safe by acquiring Plumlee rather than trying to make a big splash in free agency.

“Going into free agency, there are 30 teams and there were a couple of centers available, but you don’t know where you rank,” Kupchak said. “You don’t know what the marketplace is going to be like once free agency begins, so there’s a lot of uncertainty going in. … We felt we got somebody (Plumlee) with two years remaining who’s a proven veteran on a good financial contract.”

Here’s more from around the Southeast:

  • New Hornets forward Kelly Oubre said the team’s “youth” and “energy” drew him to Charlotte, as Rod Boone of SI.com relays. “We played against them last year on three different occasions and the way they played — the young guys, the athletic ability, the speed they play with, the way they share the basketball and shoot the basketball and then how they defend — it was fun,” Oubre said. “I’m telling you, even playing against them, it was fun to watch them play against other teams, scouting against them.”
  • Newly-signed Wizards guard Spencer Dinwiddie tells Fred Katz of The Athletic that it was excruciating waiting to see whether Washington’s sign-and-trade deal for him – which turned into a five-team trade – would ultimately come together. “They were terrible,” Dinwiddie said of the 48 hours he spent waiting. “They were terrible, because you gotta remember, this wasn’t just, ‘Oh, I’m going to the Wizards and we’re just figuring out the dollars. Is it 58 (million)? Is it 59? Is it 60?’ That wasn’t it. You had to get all these parties to agree, and if any of the parties say no, then the whole trade falls through. … I wasn’t just even relying on Brooklyn and the Wizards to negotiate. I was relying on five, six teams.”
  • Undrafted rookie guard A.J. Lawson has left the Heat‘s Summer League team to join the Hawks‘ SL roster, tweets Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. A report on draft night suggested that Lawson was expected to attend training camp with the Heat, but that no longer seems likely.

Southeast Notes: Vucevic, Iguodala, Heat, Hornets

Magic center Nikola Vucevic has given the team a feel-good story in the midst of an otherwise difficult campaign, Roy Parry of the Orlando Sentinel writes.

Vucevic, who was named an All-Star for the second time of his career this season, is averaging an impressive 24.6 points, 11.6 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game. He’s also shooting a career-high 41% from three-point range in his 36 contests.

“You get selected among 24 players out of 450 to make it and it’s a special feeling and a huge honor, something I’m very proud of,” Vucevic said. “It just shows that you’ve achieved a great level of respect from coaches around the league, other players around the league, and when you’re able to make it multiple times it kind of fortifies that.”

There’s more from the Southeast Division tonight:

  • Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald examines Andre Iguodala‘s veteran impact on the Heat. Iguodala, a former Finals MVP, is currently in his 18th NBA season. “He brings that stability on the floor and even off the floor,” teammate Goran Dragic said of Iguodala. “He has got a lot of experience. He has been in a lot of tough games. He won championships. So it’s always nice to have a guy next to you to ask for some advice. He’s like an open book. … Him, [Udonis Haslem], those two guys are tremendous for our team.”
  • Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel explores whether the Heat should trade for a star player now — even if it impacts the team’s long-term flexibility. Miami has expressed interest in several combo forwards ahead of the March 25 deadline, winning seven of its final 10 games before the All-Star break.
  • The Hornets have recalled centers Vernon Carey Jr. and Nick Richards from their G League affiliate in Greensboro, the team announced (Twitter link). The team also announced (via Twitter) that two-way players Grant Riller and Nate Darling were transferred from the NBAGL to Charlotte.

Southeast Notes: Hawks, Richards, Bacon, Hornets

An exact recovery timeline for new Hawks guard Kris Dunn is unclear following a PRP injection to treat right knee discomfort this week, per Sarah K. Spencer of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Dunn is also still recovering from a December right ankle scope.

Breakout swingman De’Andre Hunter is still on track to return in seven-to-10 weeks following a February 8 right meniscus surgery. The Hawks noted that Hunter has started to partake in “weight-bearing lower limb strength activities, form shooting and ball handling.”

The Hawks also revealed that reserve point guard Rajon Rondo participated in shooting and running drills this week, his latest injury this season being a left ankle sprain incurred last month.

There’s more out of the Southeast Division:

  • The Hornets have sent rookie center Nick Richards back to their G League affiliate, the Greensboro Swarm, according to Quinton Wash of Hornets.com. Richards, the No. 42 selection out of Kentucky in the 2020 draft, has played limited minutes across eight games with the club so far this season.
  • In his first season for the injury-ravaged Magic, swingman Dwayne Bacon has proven his worth both as a starter and a sparkplug off the bench, according to Roy Parry of the Orlando Sentinel“When you’re in a game at such a high level, you’re not going to make every shot, so you’ve just got to stick with it,” Bacon said. “The same intensity, same, just everything, the total ingredients to be a good shooter, you’ve got to do the same thing, each and every time.”
  • After missing out on All-Star inclusion altogether during the 2019/20 season, Wizards shooting guard Bradley Beal finds himself an All-Star starter for the first time this year. Fred Katz of The Athletic details Beal’s journey to starter status this season. “I definitely think the snub [last year] has a little bit to do with it,” Beal said. “I wouldn’t say all the way to the point to where I would start, but I think it was just gaining the recognition of last year and then it just carried over to this year and me just constantly working on my game and playing the way I’ve been playing.”

Southeast Notes: Butler, Dunn, Richards, Hawks

Heat All-Star swingman Jimmy Butler will remain out of commission for tonight’s contest against the Clippers, Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN tweets. The 31-year-old forward has been out since January 9 due to the league’s coronavirus protocols. He has been doing conditioning work this week, though there is no timetable for him to return to the court, according to Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press (Twitter link).

After a stellar postseason run that resulted in an all-time 2020 NBA Finals performance, Butler has appeared in just six games for the Heat this season. Miami has struggled in his absence, going 3-8 without him. The Heat will also be without several other rotation players tonight, including Goran Dragic, Avery Bradley, Andre Iguodala, Maurice Harkless, Meyers Leonard and Chris Silva, per Reynolds (Twitter link).

There’s more from around the Southeast:

  • As he recovers from a December 29 right ankle surgery, Hawks reserve wing Kris Dunn will miss at least two more weeks before being re-assessed, according to press release from the team. The Hawks indicated that Dunn has been able to partake in individual on-court practice activities.
  • The Hornets have recalled rookie Nick Richards from the NBA G League’s Orlando “bubble” campus, per Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer. Richards was added back to the club so that Charlotte could have 12 active players, the required threshold unless a team is limited by injuries or COVID-19 protocols. After sending five players to suit up for their NBAGL squad, the Greensboro Swarm, yesterday, the Hornets were left with just 11 available players. Bonnell anticipates that Richards return to the “bubble” at some point this season (Twitter link).
  • Although the Hawks made a splash with several big-money veteran free agent signings during the offseason, it is the 9-9 club’s incumbent youngsters that have had the biggest impact so far this season, as Chris Kirschner of The Athletic details. Second-year swingmen De’Andre Hunter and Cam Reddish, both 2019 lottery selections, have made impressive strides as scorers, while big man John Collins has vastly improved on defense. “We feel like we can be in the mix with some of these top teams,” third-year All-Star point guard Trae Young said. “For us, we’re just going to go out there and believe we should win each and every game, which we should.”

Hornets Sending McDaniels, Carey, Others To G League Bubble

The Hornets are sending several players from their 16-man roster to the Greensboro Swarm to participate in the NBA G League bubble, the team confirmed today.

According to a press release, second-year forward Jalen McDaniels has been assigned to the Swarm, along with rookies Vernon Carey Jr. and Nick Richards. Additionally, two-way players Grant Riller and Nate Darling have been transferred to the Hornets’ G League affiliate.

McDaniels, Carey, Richards, Riller, and Darling will join a Swarm roster that features Admiral Schofield, the No. 1 pick in this month’s NBAGL draft, and affiliate players Kahlil Whitney, Xavier Sneed, Keandre Cook, and Javin DeLaurier, among others.

Hornets president of basketball operations Mitch Kupchak told Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer earlier this week that Carey and Richards have looked somewhat “overwhelmed” during their first year in the NBA, and that the team welcomes the opportunity to get them regular playing time at the G League level — especially since the condensed NBA schedule has allowed for fewer practices than normal.

Since McDaniels and the two-way players have also been out of coach James Borrego‘s regular rotation in Charlotte, it makes sense that they’d also be sent to the G League bubble for developmental purposes, as Bonnell writes in a separate story.

While the Hornets will be able to recall any of those five players from the G League to rejoin the NBA roster at any time, those players are expected to spend some or all of the NBAGL season in the bubble, per Bonnell. Given all the protocols in place related to COVID-19, it won’t be as easy logistically for teams to constantly assign and recall players this season, so I imagine we’ll see less back-and-forth movement than usual between the two leagues.

Southeast Notes: Fultz, Hawks, Westbrook, Richards

In the wake of the season-ending ACL tear suffered by Magic point guard Markelle Fultz this week, Josh Robbins of The Athletic weighs in on what the injury means for Orlando’s future. The Magic’s hot 6-2 start to the 2020/21 season suggested that perhaps Fultz and the rest of the club’s available young core might have taken the next step in their development.

With Fultz now sidelined and reserve Michael Carter-Williams currently absent as well, rookie Cole Anthony takes his place at the point. Two-way second-year point guard Jordan Bone will be Anthony’s primary backup.

Frank Urbina of HoopsHype brainstorms some potential free agent candidates to shore up the club’s point guard depth, including former two-time All-Star Isaiah Thomas, Yogi Ferrell, and new Santa Cruz Warriors guard Jeremy Lin.

“It was really tough just to see your teammate go down — but of all people, Markelle,” Bone said of his Magic teammate. “He’s set the intensity since Day 1 for us guards and the team collectively.”

There’s more out of the Southeast Division:

  • In a wide-ranging new mailbag, Chris Kirschner of The Athletic ponders the possibility of a Hawks trade to clear up roster minutes for the club’s many solid players, among other hot topics. Kirschner notes that GM Travis Schlenk and owner Tony Ressler would need to both think making a move could significantly improve the roster for a deal to get done.
  • Wizards star point guard Russell Westbrook dislocated an unspecified finger on his right hand during a 141-136 loss to the Sixers, according to Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. Hughes later added (Twitter link) that Westbrook is currently day-to-day, and his status for tomorrow’s game against the Celtics is thus up in the air.
  • Hornets rookie center Nick Richards has cleared the league’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols and is now available for Charlotte’s contest against the Pelicans tomorrow, Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer tweets.

Southeast Notes: Heat, Harden, Bradley, Richards, Anthony

When they were exploring a possible James Harden trade before the start of the season, the Heat were open to including “a couple” of their young players and their 2025 first-round pick in a package for the star guard, says Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. However, the Rockets‘ asking price was significantly higher.

According to Jackson, even if the Heat had offered Tyler Herro, Duncan Robinson, Precious Achiuwa, KZ Okpala, and first-round picks in 2025 and 2027 (along with Andre Iguodala and Kelly Olynyk for salary-matching purposes), it’s not clear that would have been enough to satisfy the Rockets.

The Heat reportedly pulled out of Harden discussions on December 21. Jackson writes that team president Pat Riley thinks highly of Harden, but would only be willing to make a deal for the Rockets star at “a price that’s palatable to him and the organization.”

Here’s more from around the Southeast:

  • Avery Bradley‘s defense has been as strong as advertised, and he’s also making an impact on offense in his first season with the Heat, writes Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. Bradley’s play in the early going has impressed his teammates, as well as head coach Erik Spoelstra. “Avery is a guy that can play in any system,” Spoelstra said. “As long as it’s a contending team, he fits. He’s a really good basketball player. He’s a winner. And he’s a two-way player, a legit two-way player.”
  • Rookie Hornets center Nick Richards has been ruled inactive for today’s game against the Hawks due to the NBA’s COVID-19 protocols, the team announced (via Twitter). It’s not clear how long those protocols will keep Richards out of action, but it shouldn’t have an impact on Charlotte’s rotation, as he has logged just 11 total minutes so far this season.
  • The Magic have a spotty player development over the last decade, having set the franchise back years by failing to get the most out of the likes of Victor Oladipo, Tobias Harris, and others, according Josh Robbins of The Athletic, who examines how the team is looking to avoid repeating those failures with 2020 first-rounder Cole Anthony.

Hornets Notes: Biyombo, Batum, Hayward, Offense

The Hornets used some of their available cap space to re-sign reserve center Bismack Biyombo to a one-year contract worth $3.5MM, and also gave first-year salaries of $1.5MM to center Vernon Carey Jr. and $1MM to forward Nick Richards, Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets. Marks goes on to note that the Hornets, who still have about $4MM in available cap space, will also be able to use their $4.8M room exception to add an additional player if they so choose.

There’s more out of Charlotte:

  • After forward Nicolas Batum signed a veteran’s minimum deal with the Clippers when the Hornets waived him, Charlotte stands to save $559,528 spread out over the three-year duration of his stretched contract, per ESPN’ s Bobby Marks (via Twitter).
  • The robust $120MM, four-year contract of new Hornets forward Gordon Hayward has a 15% trade kicker baked into it, Michael Scotto of HoopsHype tweets. This would make the end of his deal, already thought to be exorbitant for a player with his injury history and age, even more expensive if he’s moved.
  • Following a breakout scoring season with the Hornets in 2019/20, guard Devonte’ Graham is in favor of a more balanced offensive attack incorporating new additions Hayward and LaMelo Ball, even though that means Graham’s looks could decrease, Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer reports.

Hornets Sign Riller, Darling To Two-Way Deals

The Hornets have signed guard Grant Riller, a late second-round pick, to a two-way contract, according to a team press release.

Riller had a stellar college career at the College of Charleston. The 56th overall pick of the draft averaged 18.7 PPG and 2.8 APG in 132 career contests.

As previously reported, undrafted guard Nate Darling is the team’s other two-way player and his signing is also official. At Delaware last season, Darling averaged 21.0 PPG, 3.9 RPG, and 2.8 APG in 32 starts.

In a separate release, the Hornets also announced the signing of big man Nick Richards, the 42nd pick of the draft. As a junior at Kentucky last season, he was named to the All-SEC First Team and the SEC All-Defensive Team after averaging 14.0 PPG, 7.8 RPG and 2.1 BPG in 29.7 MPG over 31 games.

Richards received a three-year contract, Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets.

Pelicans Trade No. 39 To Jazz, No. 42 To Hornets

NOVEMBER 19, 1:14am: The Pelicans have issued press releases confirming that their deals with the Jazz and Hornets are both now official.


NOVEMBER 18, 10:47pm: The Jazz will acquire Elijah Hughes, the 39th pick in tonight’s draft, from the Pelicans, tweets Jeremy Woo of Sports Illustrated. New Orleans is also trading the 42nd pick, Nick Richards, to the Hornets, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

In exchange for Hughes’ rights at No. 39, the Pelicans will receive a 2022 second-round pick from the Jazz, reports Andrew Lopez of ESPN (Twitter link).

The Hornets will send a 2024 second-round pick to New Orleans for the rights to Richards, tweets Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer.

Hughes, a 6’6″ junior forward, averaged 19.0 points, 4.9 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game last season at Syracuse. Richards, a 6’11” junior forward, averaged 14.0 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game at Kentucky.