PJ Washington

Hornets Sign PJ Washington

First-round pick PJ Washington has signed with the Hornets, according to a press release from the team. The 6’8″ forward out of Kentucky was the 12th player selected in last month’s draft.

Under the NBA’s rookie scale, Washington can make $3,831,840 in his first season, $4,023,600 in his second and $4,215,120 in his third. The actual terms of his deal were not released.

Washington spent two years with the Wildcats and led the team with 15.2 points and 7.5 rebounds per game as a sophomore. He earned first team All-SEC and third team All-America honors this season.

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.

Draft Rumors: Wolves, Pistons, Hornets, Knicks

While the Timberwolves were exploring trades involving the No. 6 pick after acquiring it from Phoenix, they plan on hanging onto Jarrett Culver, tweets Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic.

Still, it’s safe to assume Timberwolves president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas will continue to be aggressive in exploring trade options, according to Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News, who tweets that Rosas seems to be open to discussing anyone except Karl-Anthony Towns.

Here are a few more draft-night notes and rumors:

  • Sekou Doumbouya was higher than No. 15 on the Pistons‘ draft board, so the team was happy to snag him, a source tells Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press (Twitter link). Ellis hears that the Pistons were also seriously considering big man Goga Bitadze at No. 15 (Twitter link). Pistons executive Ed Stefanski said that Detroit explored trading up, but teams wanted too much, tweets Rod Beard of The Detroit News.
  • The Hornets were close to trading up from No. 12, but felt like the price was excessive compared to what their options at No. 12 were, Hornets president of basketball operations Mitch Kupchak said tonight (Twitter link via Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer). Kupchak added that Charlotte views PJ Washington as both a small forward and power forward.
  • Jalen McDaniels, Miye Oni, Zylan Cheatham, and Jaylen Nowell are among the prospects receiving consideration from the Knicks at No. 55, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post, who tweets that New York likely won’t draft Tacko Fall.

Draft Notes: Wolves, Kings, Pistons

We’re continuing to pass along workout schedules for NBA teams in advance of the 2019 NBA Draft on June 20. See below for some additional workout notes from Minneapolis, Sacramento, and Detroit.

Draft Updates: Green Room, Culver, Samanic, More

The NBA continues to invite potential first-round picks to the Green Room for next Thursday’s draft, according to ESPN’s Jonathan Givony, who tweets that Nassir Little (UNC), Romeo Langford (Indiana), and Tyler Herro (Kentucky) were the next invitees after the initial nine-player group.

According to Givony (Twitter links), Rui Hachimura (Gonzaga), Brandon Clarke (Gonzaga), PJ Washington (Kentucky) also received Green Room invites, as did international prospect Sekou Doumbouya. That brings us to 16 prospects who are expected to be in the Green Room on draft night, with four others still expected to be invited, per Givony.

Here are a few more draft-related updates:

  • Within his latest mock draft, Jeremy Woo of SI.com cites league sources who say that both the Suns and Hawks are high on Texas Tech swingman Jarrett Culver. However, it’s possible that neither team will have a shot at him without trading up — Woo has Culver coming off the board at No. 5 to the Cavaliers in his mock.
  • Croatian forward Luka Samanic has a busy workout schedule, according to Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer (Twitter link), who adds the Warriors and Spurs to the list of teams Samanic has auditioned for. He also has workouts lined up with the Hawks and Bucks.
  • UCF guard Aubrey Dawkins has worked out for the Celtics, Pelicans, Knicks, and Raptors, and still has the Mavericks, Rockets, and Hornets on his workout schedule, tweets Josh Robbins of The Athletic.
  • Adam Zagoria of ZagsBlog.com (Twitter links) provides a pair of updates on pre-draft workouts for prospects, reporting that Chris Silva (South Carolina) is working out for the Heat and Spurs, while Shamorie Ponds (St. John’s) worked out for the Cavaliers and Mavericks and has the Sixers and Rockets on tap.

Draft Notes: Washington, Konchar, Thomas, McQuaid

Former Kentucky Wildcat PJ Washington is fully healthy and will have his first pre-draft workout on Sunday, Jonathan Givony of ESPN.com relays (Twitter link). The first of his five upcoming visits will be with the Heat.

Here are more workout notes on the upcoming draft:

  • John Konchar (Purdue) recently worked out for the Suns and Magic, a source tells Jordan Schultz of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Konchar will work out for the Warriors on June 6.
  • Elijah Thomas (Clemson) has worked out for the Pacers, Michael Scotto of The Athletic relays.  Thomas will participate in drills for the Wizards on Friday.
  • Matt McQuaid worked out for the Pistons and Grizzlies, Rod Beard of the Detroit News tweets. The Michigan State product will also work out for the Cavaliers.
  • Amir Coffey (Minnesota) has worked out for the Raptors and Hornets, per Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News (Twitter link). Coffey will also work out for the Pelicans and Timberwolves.

Draft Rumors: Lakers, Suns, Cavs, Hawks, Health

League executives are bracing for the 2019 NBA draft to feature more traded picks than usual, according to ESPN’s Jonathan Givony (Insider link). As Givony details, the Lakers (No. 4) and Suns (No. 6) are active in trade discussions and would be willing to part with their first-round picks for the right established veteran(s).

The Cavaliers have also been mentioned by Givony’s sources as a team that has been active in trade talks involving picks in both rounds. Currently, Cleveland only holds the fifth and 26th overall selections, so the team may be looking to trade into the second round.

Additionally, multiple agents representing potential lottery-caliber players tell Givony they’ve talked to teams who say they have the ability to trade for the No. 10 overall pick, held by the Hawks. That’s a signal that Atlanta has been willing to discuss that selection in trade conversations.

Here’s more draft-related buzz from Givony:

  • Given the lack of consensus on many prospects outside of the top three, this year’s draft figures to be unpredictable even if there aren’t a ton of trades, Givony writes. Health is also a factor that could contribute to draft uncertainty — as Givony explains, prospects like Ja Morant, Cam Reddish, Romeo Langford, Bol Bol, and PJ Washington are currently injured and unable to work out for teams, while a number of healthy players have been unwilling to submit to physicals, with their agents apparently trying to steer them to specific destinations.
  • NBA teams are becoming frustrated by the increasing gaps in prospects’ medical information, according to Givony, who hears from a source that approximately 25 players at the combine didn’t fully complete the league-issued medical exam. Per Givony, a group of NBA owners have asked commissioner Adam Silver not to lower the age limit for the draft without getting concessions related to medical exams. “This is pretty easy for the NBA to clean up,” one owner said. “Because your physical health is germane to the job, the NBA can just require it in a future CBA.”
  • International early entrants have six more days to decide whether to remain in the draft or pull out, as the NBA’s official withdrawal deadline falls on June 10. Many of those prospects are in the United States to participate in private workouts for teams in the hopes of receiving assurances that they’ll be drafted, says Givony. Although 59 international early entrants declared for the draft, most of those players figure to withdraw in the coming days.

Southeast Draft Notes: Hornets, Hawks, Magic, Heat

The Hornets are one of multiple Southeast teams that has been busy this week scouting draft-eligible prospects. According to a pair of press releases from the club, Charlotte brought in six prospects for pre-draft workouts on Friday and will take a closer look at six more on Saturday.

Nassir Little (UNC) and Nickeil Alexander-Walker (Virginia Tech) were the headliners in Friday’s group for the Hornets, joined by Devontae Cacok (UNC-Wilmington), Tyler Cook (Iowa), Jordan Davis (Northern Colorado), and Matt Morgan (Cornell).

On Saturday, the Hornets will work out Jordan Bone (Tennessee), Oshae Brissett (Syracuse), Ethan Happ (Wisconsin), C.J. Massinburg (Buffalo), Isaiah Roby (Nebrasaka), and Simisola Shittu (Vanderbilt).

Here are a few more draft-related updates from out of the Southeast:

Northwest Notes: Kanter, Wolves, Nuggets

While the Trail Blazers and Raptors are underdogs in their respective conference finals, there’s still a chance that the two teams will meet in the NBA Finals. And if that happens, Portland wants to make sure it will have Enes Kanter available in road games.

With that in mind, Oregon Senator Ron Wyden wrote a letter this week to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, requesting that Canada facilitate “safe passage” for Kanter for any potential games in Toronto, per ESPN’s Royce Young.

A vocal critic of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Kanter is no longer welcome in his home country, with Turkish prosecutors reportedly seeking his extradition. Turkey, which previously revoked Kanter’s passport, is said to be seeking an Interpol “red notice” for the Trail Blazers center, whose ability to travel outside of America has become extremely limited.

While it’s unlikely that both Portland and Toronto advance to the NBA Finals, this would be a situation worth keeping an eye on in that scenario.

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • Within an in-depth look at the Timberwolves‘ newly-launched head coaching search, Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic reports that the team hadn’t reached out to Dave Joerger about the job, as of Tuesday afternoon. A Minnesota native, Joerger was speculatively linked to the Wolves’ job even before he was dismissed by Sacramento.
  • PJ Washington (Kentucky), Kevin Porter Jr. (USC), and Romeo Langford (Indiana) are among the players who will meet with the Timberwolves this week at the draft combine, tweets Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News.
  • Matt Schubert of The Denver Post identifies a few players who might be free agent targets for the Nuggets this summer. While Denver will be able to open up some cap room, the team is unlikely to have more than about $18MM available even without Paul Millsap on the books. As such, some of Schubert’s proposed targets – including Khris Middleton – may be long shots.
  • Myles Powell (Seton Hall) has auditioned for the Thunder and has additional workouts on his schedule, sources tell Adam Zagoria of ZagsBlog.com (Twitter link).

Full List Of 2019 NBA Draft Combine Participants

The NBA has revealed its list of 66 players who have been invited to next week’s draft combine in Chicago and who are expected to attend. The combine will take place from May 15-19.

While a small handful of top prospects often skip the event, that won’t be the case this year — Zion Williamson and Ja Morant are on the league’s list of 66 names, along with R.J. Barrett, Cam Reddish, Jarrett Culver, Darius Garland, De’Andre Hunter, and many more. Of course, those top prospects may not participate fully in all of the workouts and scrimmages at the combine.

A few more names figure to be added to this list, as a select number of the 40 draft-eligible prospects participating in the G League Elite Camp earlier in the week are expected to receive invites to the combine.

Here’s the full list of 66 names announced by the NBA today, in alphabetical order:

  1. Nickeil Alexander-Walker, G, Virginia Tech (sophomore)
  2. R.J. Barrett, G/F, Duke (freshman)
  3. Charles Bassey, C, Western Kentucky (freshman)
  4. Darius Bazley, F, Princeton HS (OH) (N/A)
  5. Bol Bol, C, Oregon (freshman)
  6. Jordan Bone, G, Tennessee (junior)
  7. Brian Bowen, F, USA (born 1998)
  8. Ky Bowman, G, Boston College (junior)
  9. Ignas Brazdeikis, F, Michigan (freshman)
  10. Moses Brown, C, UCLA (freshman)
  11. Brandon Clarke, F, Gonzaga (junior)
  12. Nicolas Claxton, F, Georgia (sophomore)
  13. Jarrett Culver, G/F, Texas Tech (sophomore)
  14. Luguentz Dort, G, Arizona State (freshman)
  15. Devon Dotson, G, Kansas (freshman)
  16. Carsen Edwards, G, Purdue (junior)
  17. Bruno Fernando, F, Maryland (sophomore)
  18. Daniel Gafford, F/C, Arkansas (sophomore)
  19. Darius Garland, G, Vanderbilt (freshman)
  20. Quentin Grimes, G, Kansas (freshman)
  21. Kyle Guy, G, Virginia (junior)
  22. Jaylen Hands, G, UCLA (sophomore)
  23. Jaxson Hayes, F/C, Texas (freshman)
  24. Tyler Herro, G, Kentucky (freshman)
  25. Jaylen Hoard, F, Wake Forest (freshman)
  26. Talen Horton-Tucker, G, Iowa State (freshman)
  27. De’Andre Hunter, F, Virginia (sophomore)
  28. Ty Jerome, G, Virginia (junior)
  29. Cameron Johnson, G, UNC (senior)
  30. Keldon Johnson, F, Kentucky (freshman)
  31. Mfiondu Kabengele, C, Florida State (sophomore)
  32. Louis King, F, Oregon (freshman)
  33. Romeo Langford, G, Indiana (freshman)
  34. Dedric Lawson, F, Kansas (junior)
  35. Jalen Lecque, G, Brewster Academy (NH) (N/A)
  36. Nassir Little, F, UNC (freshman)
  37. Charles Matthews, G, Michigan (junior)
  38. Jalen McDaniels, F, San Diego State (sophomore)
  39. Ja Morant, G, Murray State (sophomore)
  40. Zach Norvell Jr., G, Gonzaga (sophomore)
  41. Jaylen Nowell, G, Washington (sophomore)
  42. Jordan Nwora, F, Louisville (sophomore)
  43. Chuma Okeke, F, Auburn (sophomore)
  44. KZ Okpala, F, Stanford (sophomore)
  45. Miye Oni, G/F, Yale (junior)
  46. Eric Paschall, F, Villanova (senior)
  47. Shamorie Ponds, G, St. John’s (junior)
  48. Jordan Poole, G, Michigan (sophomore)
  49. Jontay Porter, F, Missouri (sophomore)
  50. Kevin Porter Jr, G, USC (freshman)
  51. Neemias Queta, C, Utah State (freshman)
  52. Cam Reddish, F, Duke (freshman)
  53. Naz Reid, C, LSU (freshman)
  54. Isaiah Roby, F, Nebraska (junior)
  55. Luka Samanic, F, Croatia (born 2000)
  56. Admiral Schofield, G, Tennessee (senior)
  57. Simisola Shittu, F, Vanderbilt (freshman)
  58. Killian Tillie, F, Gonzaga (junior)
  59. PJ Washington, F, Kentucky (sophomore)
  60. Tremont Waters, G, LSU (sophomore)
  61. Quinndary Weatherspoon, G, Missippi State (senior)
  62. Coby White, G, UNC (freshman)
  63. Kris Wilkes, G, UCLA (sophomore)
  64. Grant Williams, F, Tennessee (junior)
  65. Zion Williamson, F, Duke (freshman)
  66. Dylan Windler, G, Belmont (senior)

Rui Hachimura (Gonzaga) and Matisse Thybulle (Washington) are among the potential first-round picks who aren’t on the NBA’s list of combine participants, as noted by Jeremy Woo of SI.com and ESPN’s Jonathan Givony (Twitter links).