Brandon Miller

Hornets Notes: Schnall, Plotkin, Jordan, Roster

New Hornets co-chairmen Rick Schnall and Gabe Plotkin gave an exclusive interview to Roderick Boone of The Charlotte Observer on Thursday following their introductory press conference.

The chat covered a number of topics, including the duo’s desire to build a sustainable winner, fan engagement, the team’s roster, and their respect for former majority owner Michael Jordan, who retained a minority stake in the franchise and recently penned an open thank you letter following the finalized sale.

Here are some highlights from Boone’s interview, with is worth checking out in full for Hornets followers:

On Jordan initiating the conversation about selling the team last August:

The way he has dealt with us in this process — he told us a year ago, ‘You two guys are the right guys to buy the business,'” Schnall said. “You are basketball guys. I believe you can do this, and I want you to do this.’ And he stuck to his word. He was committed. That’s when we started down this path.”

How Schnall’s experience as a minority owner of the Hawks will impact his decision-making with Charlotte:

I think being in and around the NBA for eight years, watching how owners make decisions, how general managers make decisions, how the CBA works, how trades work, how you build a roster. And I’m a business builder as a living, and I take all that in to think about and work with Gabe, and the rest of the group on how do you build a team? What’s the strategy for building a team over the long term, and create success over the long term?

Obviously, I wasn’t making the decisions in Atlanta, but I was in the room. And we went through a rebuild. We made a decision to break it down. … Now you can debate if we did everything right. I don’t think we did. But we did a lot of things right. We had the right idea at that time.

“… I think all of that is information and Gabe and I spent a lot of time talking about it. Now that we are in the position of making those decisions or helping make those decisions, what are the right decisions to make at different times in order to try to build a sustainably successful franchise. And that’s what we are trying to do. We are not trying to win the title in one year and then be terrible two years later. Like any sustainable business, how do we build something that is a contender year-in and year-out.

Plotkin’s thoughts on the current state of the roster:

I think it will be a competitive team. When you look at the Eastern Conference, it’s pretty powerful at the top of the conference and there’s a bunch of teams somewhere in the middle parts where I think we can compete within. And we’ll see how that plays out. I think there are really a lot of good parts on the roster. Really, we liked what we saw out of Brandon (Miller) at summer league. His shot wasn’t falling, but that is not something that we are really worried about. He’s got great mechanics, he’s got a great release, he shot the ball incredibly well at Alabama.

And we just signed LaMelo (Ball) to the max. And he was playing great basketball last year before he got injured. Usually that third, fourth year is an inflection year and we just didn’t get to see it from him because he wasn’t really on the court. And we were just speaking with Mark Williams. When he came into the starting lineup, there was a palpable difference on how this team defended. Being a part of this team for the last four or five years, there’s been no rim protection.

And so to anchor yourself with a really high basketball IQ player on the back end of your defense, who can alter shots and shoot the basketball a little bit and rim run, that’s really important. The pieces are all there. We’ll see how Miles (Bridges) looks as he comes back. He was great the last season we had him, and there are other young parts that can elevate. And, of course, you have Gordon (Hayward) and Terry (Rozier), who are kind of consummate professionals. There’s a lot of pieces. They’re young and we think they will continue to develop.”

Southeast Notes: Hornets, J. Richardson, D. Robinson, Gallinari

Restricted free agent P.J. Washington and the Hornets remain at an impasse in contract negotiations and there have been “no indications” of that changing anytime soon, league sources tell Roderick Boone of The Charlotte Observer.

Boone examines the team’s roster and depth chart entering the 2023/24 season, writing that No. 2 overall pick Brandon Miller projects to come off the bench behind veterans Terry Rozier and Gordon Hayward.

Assuming Washington is on the roster, he’ll have the inside track for the starting power forward position, with Miles Bridges suspended for the first 10 games. However, Boone wonders if the Hornets will eventually pivot to Bridges if they get off to a slow start.

2021 first-round picks James Bouknight and Kai Jones will likely find minutes tough to come by, Boone adds.

Here’s more from the Southeast:

  • Appearing at the Heat‘s youth camp on Wednesday, returning swingman Josh Richardson said Damian Lillard is the best player he’s played against, as Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel relays. Lillard’s status, of course, has been one of the primary stories of the offseason, as the longtime Trail Blazers star requested a trade to Miami. Richardson, a free agent signee, said his game is malleable and he’s ready for whatever role he’s given. “I mean, you know how (head coach Erik Spoelstra) Spo is, he’s kind of like, ‘I can put you out there and do anything,’” Richardson said of not sweating how the roster or his role ultimately could shake out. “So it’s kind of what I’m good at. I’m kind of a jack of all trades. Our talk was good before, but I’ll guess we’ll see more concrete once the games get started.”
  • In a subscriber-only mailbag for The Sun Sentinel, Winderman notes that while losing Max Strus‘ shooting could make Duncan Robinson more valuable to the Heat, the latter certainly isn’t irreplaceable. Robinson’s name has popped up in trade rumors for several months and he could be used as a salary-matching piece in a possible Lillard deal.
  • Wizards forward Danilo Gallinari, who was acquired from Boston as part of the Kristaps Porzingis trade, says he’s looking forward to competing against the Celtics next season, according to Daniel Donabedian of Clutch Points. “I can’t wait to play against Boston,” Gallinari said on the Italian A Cresta Alta podcast. “When the schedule will be unveiled, I’ll put an X on the games we will play at Boston against the Celtics.” Gallinari grew up idolizing Celtics legend Larry Bird and hoped to win a title in Boston, but missed all of last season after tearing his ACL last year.

Brandon Miller Signs Rookie Deal With Hornets

Brandon Miller has signed his rookie scale contract with the Hornets, the team announced in a press release.

The No. 2 pick in this year’s draft is eligible to receive 120% of the rookie scale, which would amount to $10.88MM in his first season. He can make more than $49MM on his four-year deal.

Miller earned first team All-America honors during his lone season at Alabama and was named SEC Player of the Year and NABC Freshman of the Year. He led the SEC in scoring at 18.8 PPG, ranked second in three-point percentage at 38.4% and was fourth in rebounding at 8.2 per game.

Miller rose up the draft ranks throughout the college season and was eventually able to surpass G League Ignite guard Scoot Henderson for the second overall pick. The Hornets considered both players, but were swayed by Miller’s size and outside shooting, along with his more natural fit alongside LaMelo Ball.

Miller may make his Hornets debut on Monday when the team takes part in the California Classic Summer League.

Eastern Notes: Hornets, Quickley, Bulls, Dobner

A report last Thursday that the Hornets were giving renewed consideration to taking Scoot Henderson with the No. 2 pick was a late attempt to get the Trail Blazers to trade up, Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports said on the Basketball Illuminati Podcast.

“I don’t think this was done (with) betting markets, conspiracy, blah, blah, blah,” Fischer said (hat tip to Real GM). “I think the Hornets tried to get a little savvy.”

Fischer points out that Charlotte general manager Mitch Kupchak tried a similar tactic in 2015 when he had the No. 2 pick as GM of the Lakers. Kupchak was deciding between D’Angelo Russell and Jahlil Okafor and didn’t communicate to their agents what he planned to do.

“I believe the Hornets did not tell Brandon Miller or Scoot until right on the clock that they were going either direction to continue that misdirection, mystery or whatever you call,” Fischer added. “I think it was a concerted effort by the Hornets to drum up some trade interest there.”

There’s more from the Eastern Conference:

  • An NBA executive tells Sean Deveney of that he thinks Immanuel Quickley will want “nine figures” over four years in his extension talks this summer. The Knicks guard helped his bargaining position with an outstanding third season that saw him finish second in the Sixth Man of the Year voting. “I can’t say the Knicks will go that high but they might have to,” the executive said. “He is not a guy you want to send to restricted free agency.”
  • The Bulls didn’t address their need for outside shooting in the draft, so they’re likely to look for shooters in free agency, per Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic. Chicago’s only pick was Julian Phillips, who shot 23.9% from behind the arc on 46 attempts last season at Tennessee. The Bulls ranked last in three-point attempts per game the past two years, and general manager Marc Eversley believes recently hired shooting coach Peter Patton will help. “Peter comes to us not only as a shooting coach but somebody who can oversee our player development function,” Eversley said. “… And we feel like he can help the overall look and feel of how we play the game and shoot the ball.”
  • Sidney Dobner will be the first female assistant coach in the history of the Bucks, the team stated in a press release announcing Adrian Griffin‘s staff. This will be Dobner’s sixth season with the franchise.

Hornets Notes: Miller, Ball, Bridges, Washington, Free Agency

For all the outside speculation about who the Hornets would take with their No. 2 pick, general manager Mitch Kupchak says the team never wavered in its commitment to Brandon Miller, writes Roderick Boone of The Charlotte Observer. Kupchak admits serious consideration was given to G League Ignite star Scoot Henderson, as both players were brought in Monday for a second workout and a meeting with team owner Michael Jordan. Miller solidified his status at that session, Kupchak confirmed in a post-draft press conference Thursday night.

“It wasn’t the easiest of decisions, but Brandon was our favorite all along,” he said. “A lot of spirited discussion the last three or four days, which I welcome, and I think it’s good for the basketball department to discuss pros and cons, pluses and minuses, argue a little bit. So, obviously, our opinion from the beginning did not change.”

The Hornets were attracted to Miller because he’s a better fit alongside point guard LaMelo Ball and he gives the team another outside shooting threat, connecting at 38.4% from long distance at Alabama this season. Although Charlotte was firm in its decision to take the freshman forward, he wasn’t told before the pick was announced by Commissioner Adam Silver.

“I found out literally when they were calling my name,” Miller said. “I was still on the phone. My reaction was a lot of excitement, smiles, hugs and handshakes. I knew my mom was going to cry, she was going to shed a tear. But there’s nothing wrong with crying, I think it happens to the best.”

There’s more from Charlotte:

  • Kupchak also offered an update on Ball, who underwent surgery on March 1 for a fractured right ankle, Boone states in a separate story. “His rehab, the bone was probably 100% healed six weeks ago,” Kupchak said. “In terms of MRIs and X-rays, it’s 100% healed. He’s been on the basketball court for four to six weeks, running, shooting, jumping. He has not scrimmaged yet. He’s not played one-on-one, two-on-two. He could, but we are not even July 1 yet. What’s the rush? So, he’s … I can’t say ahead of schedule. This is exactly what the doctor expected, so we are good.” 
  • Kupchak refused to talk about the possible return of Miles Bridges, who sat out all of last season after pleading no contest to felony domestic violence, Boone adds. However, Kupchak told reporters that re-signing free agent forward P.J. Washington remains a priority for the offseason.
  • The Hornets will try to find a veteran leader for their young team in free agency, tweets Mike Kaye of The Charlotte Observer. Kupchak said there are players on the roster who can eventually grow into leaders, but he doesn’t see anyone who’s ready for that role yet.

Hornets Select Brandon Miller With No. 2 Pick

The Hornets have selected Alabama small forward Brandon Miller with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2023 draft.

Charlotte reportedly decided between Miller and G League Ignite point guard Scoot Henderson, who were widely considered the top two prospects in the draft behind Victor Wembanyama.

From a fit perspective, Miller – a 6’9″ wing – makes more sense for the Hornets than another ball-handling guard like Henderson. Incumbent Hornets point guard LaMelo Ball battled injuries this past season but made the 2022 All-Star team, so Miller was viewed for most of the process as the favorite to land in Charlotte.

Miller had a stellar freshman season on the court for the Crimson Tide. The 6’9″ prospect averaged 18.8 PPG on .430/.384/.859 shooting splits. He also notched 8.2 RPG, 2.1 APG, 0.9 SPG and 0.9 BPG across his 37 regular season contests.

For his efforts, the 20-year-old was named the SEC Player of the Year and an All-SEC First Teamer. He was also selected to the 2023 All-American Second Team.

Miller was widely considered to be the best freshman in the NCAA for 2022/23. Accordingly, he was named the SEC Rookie of the Year, the NABC Freshman of the Year, and the USBWA National Freshman of the Year.

Miller has faced scrutiny for his connection to a fatal January shooting in Tuscaloosa. He brought former Alabama teammate Darius Miles the gun that was used in the killing of young mother Jamea Jonae Harris, but has insisted that he didn’t know the weapon was in the car. He cooperated in the investigation and didn’t face any criminal charges.

Luke Adams contributed to this report.

Draft/Trade Rumors: Am. Thompson, Blazers, Beal, Brogdon, More

Many view the 2023 NBA draft as having a “big three” of Victor Wembanyama, Scoot Henderson and Brandon Miller, but league sources tell Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer that Amen Thompson, who is ranked No. 4 on ESPN’s big board, is expected to receive consideration from the Trail Blazers at No. 3 if Henderson goes No. 2 to Charlotte.

Still, O’Connor has Portland selecting Miller in his latest mock draft, with Thompson heading to Houston at No. 4. As O’Connor writes, Thompson could make sense for the Blazers if they decide to trade Damian Lillard, but there’s been no indication that’s in the plans as of yet.

Here are a few more draft and trade-related rumors:

  • Multiple sources tell O’Connor that the Raptors registered interest in Bradley Beal while he was still with the Wizards, but the three-time All-Star preferred to go to the Suns. O’Connor doesn’t specify what Toronto may have offered for Beal or if the talks advanced at all.
  • According to Adam Himmselsbach of The Boston Globe (Twitter link), the Clippers decided to pull out of their three-team trade talks with the Celtics and Wizards because they didn’t have time to complete a physical on Malcolm Brogdon. The three sides were facing time constraints, as Kristaps Porzingis had a midnight ET deadline to pick up his $36MM player option as part of the trade (he wound up being sent to Boston anyway in a separate deal). Brogdon reportedly suffered a torn tendon in his right elbow during the Eastern Conference Finals and recently said he hoped to avoid surgery. Sources tell Himmelsbach that even if the 30-year-old does need surgery, there’s a belief that he’d be ready to go by the start of 2023/24.
  • In addition to the Raptors and Mavericks, the Hawks have also discussed trades with the Celtics, reports O’Connor. It’s unclear which players or draft picks may have been discussed. For what it’s worth, there’s a “strong belief” around the league that the Celtics aren’t done making moves, writes Steve Bulpett of
  • O’Connor hears that Chris Livingston, who opted out of his remaining pre-draft workouts a couple weeks ago, impressed teams with his shooting ability prior to making that decision. O’Connor has the Kentucky wing going No. 43 to Portland.
  • Jordan Hawkins is a name worth monitoring for Lakers fans, according to Adam Zagoria of (Twitter link), who reports that Hawkins met with the team. The UConn wing is considered one of the best shooters in the draft and is currently No. 16 on ESPN’s board, while the Lakers control the Nos. 17 and 40 picks.

Hornets Leaning Towards Scoot Henderson At No. 2?

Several recent reports have stated that the Hornets were favoring Alabama’s Brandon Miller at No. 2 overall in tonight’s draft, but G League Ignite’s Scoot Henderson is building “serious momentum” with Charlotte for that selection, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Charania says the Hornets have been “torn” in the lead-up to the draft, with both players viewed as strong candidates. The organization has final meetings on Thursday to decide which prospect it will choose, Charania adds.

The Athletic’s Sam Vecenie recently placed Henderson at No. 2 in his latest mock draft, expressing skepticism that the Hornets were truly favoring Miller over Henderson.

President of basketball operations Mitch Kupchak said on Wednesday that the Hornets would be choosing between two players, and while he didn’t mention them by name, they’re widely expected to be Henderson and Miller. He also said they’d be taking the best player available approach, as David Newton of ESPN relays.

I don’t think we’re at the stage where we’re good enough to focus on fit,” Kupchak said. “Next year, knock on wood, we’re healthy, we might be getting close where we could look a little bit more to fit.

But right now, it’s about adding the best player that we could possibly add to the team. … We’re going to take the player that we feel is best for this organization going forward.”

Kupchak also said the team was open to trading the pick, though the offer would likely have to be overwhelming. As of yesterday, he anticipated keeping the valuable selection.

Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report is another talent evaluator who has been skeptical of the rumors that Miller was the leading candidate to go No. 2. He says many people seem to favor Henderson as the second-best prospect in the draft (Twitter links). According to Wasserman, league insiders haven’t been able to trace the source of Charlotte’s rumored preference for Miller, since the team is known for being pretty tight-lipped.

As Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports tweets, other lottery teams believe Henderson is still receiving strong consideration, buoyed by support from the Hornets’ new ownership group, which is led by Gabe Plotkin and Rick Schnall, who are buying Michael Jordan‘s majority stake. However, Kupchak said at his press conference Wednesday that Jordan would have final say on basketball decisions, per Roderick Boone of The Charlotte Observer.

Michael has the final say,” Kupchak said. “During the last month or two I would talk to Michael in the morning two or three times a week. With the sale of the organization, one of the new owners was in a couple of days ago and is in today, and I expect them to weigh in, whether it’s in-person or not.

There’s a lot of texts going back and forth, there’s a lot of questions, there’s a lot of catch-up for a new owner. This is not a simple process. There’s a lot of research, testing, intel, opinion that goes into the decision. The new owners are catching up as quick as they can. So the debate will continue today, it might continue (Thursday), which is good. It’s healthy. I welcome that.”

Draft Rumors: Miller, Henderson, Pistons, Howard, Jaquez

Numerous insiders have stated that the Hornets are leaning heavily toward taking Brandon Miller with the No. 2 pick in tonight’s draft, but Miller indicated Wednesday that he hasn’t been promised anything, writes Adam Zagoria of

“Probably when I get drafted is when I’ll know where I’m going,” Miller said. He added that he’ll be equally happy heading to Charlotte with the second pick or Portland at No. 3.

In an updated mock draft released this morning, Sam Vecenie of The Athletic moved G League Ignite guard Scoot Henderson up to No. 2 ahead of Miller. Vecenie has been skeptical of rumors that Charlotte is leaning toward Miller because he’s a better fit, and he continues to doubt leaks that the Hornets have decided on Miller after bringing both players in for a second workout on Monday.

Vecenie points out that general manager Mitch Kupchak said at a news conference Wednesday that team officials didn’t get a lot of new information from that second visit. Vecenie adds that incoming owners Gabe Plotkin and Rich Schnall will be involved in the draft decision, and they may view Henderson as the better prospect.

There’s more draft news to pass along:

  • The Pistons are listening to offers for the No. 5 pick, but their asking price is “prohibitively high,” Jonathan Givony states in ESPN’s updated mock draft (subscription required). He cites the Jazz, who hold the ninth and 16th picks, as a team that would like to move up if Detroit eases its demands. Givony adds that Pistons’ ownership may be reluctant to trade down, hoping to add an exciting prospect after such a difficult season. Givony lists Ausar Thompson as his choice for Detroit, noting that Cam Whitmore has likely fallen into the 6-9 range.
  • Michigan’s Jett Howard tells Sean Deveney of that he worked out this week for the Lakers, who hold pick No. 17. Deveney points out that the freshman guard already has a connection with L.A. general manager Rob Pelinka, who played with Jett’s father, Juwan Howard, for two seasons with the Wolverines. “Rob was there, talked to him a little bit,” Howard said of the 30-minute session with the Lakers. “I have known him so long, it was kind of an organic conversation. And yeah, if they pick me, I would be more than happy to play for them.”
  • The Lakers, Heat (18) and Warriors (19) may all have interest in UCLA’s Jaime Jaquez, Deveney adds in a separate story. Jaquez credits strong workouts with helping to raise his draft stock. “I think I did well in the workouts, I went out there and showed what I can do, and hopefully teams saw what I was capable of,” he said. “There were question marks going into those workouts, I went into those workouts trying to answer those questions. I think that is why I got this invite here.”
  • Jaquez is one of the final additions to the Green Room list issued by the NBA (Twitter link), along with Brandin Podziemski and Rayan Rupert.

Draft Rumors: Miller, Hornets, Blazers, Pacers, Magic, More

The Hornets appear to be leaning toward selecting Alabama’s Brandon Miller with the second overall pick in tomorrow night’s draft, according to reports from Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link via ClutchPoints), Jonathan Givony of ESPN (Twitter link), Jeremy Woo of ESPN (Insider link) and Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports.

Wojnarowski, Givony, and Woo have all heard from sources who say Miller performed much better in his second workout on Monday in front of Hornets brass, including owner Michael Jordan. Wojnarowski goes so far as to say Miller “further solidified his standing as Charlotte’s choice at No. 2.”

For his part, Miller said in a SiriusXM NBA Radio interview (Twitter video link) that he didn’t feel intimidated by working out in front of Jordan, noting that he didn’t grow up watching the Hall of Famer. He also said he had a “fun time” exchanging verbal jabs with Jordan.

Here are more rumors on the draft, which is less than 24 hours away:

  • It would take a “significant return” for the Trail Blazers to part with the No. 3 pick in a draft that many view as having a consensus top-three prospects, but they’ll continue to listen to offers up until it’s time to make a selection, Wojnarowski said on ESPN’s NBA Today (YouTube link). “Certainly, they want to build around Damian Lillard, Wojnarowski said, per RealGM. “That’s been their focus. Damian Lillard says he wants to continue to be in Portland. So I think they’ll go right up to the clock on Thursday night. Offers and outreach from teams tend to get more serious the closer you get to the deadline…Portland may not have gotten the best offers that will come to them, but they will here in the next 24 hours or so. This is a significant decision for this organization, for Damian Lillard’s future in Portland.” If Miller gets picked No. 2, the Blazers would almost certainly select Scoot Henderson, Woj added.
  • Fischer confirms a recent report that the Spurs are inquiring about adding a second lottery pick and have been linked to French wing Bilal Coulibaly, who played with projected No. 1 pick Victor Wembanyama on Metropolitans 92. Interestingly, sources tell Woo that Coulibaly hasn’t unilaterally granted access to his medical details, indicating he may have a preferred destination in mind.
  • Cam Whitmore‘s stock may be falling due to medical concerns, sources tell Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report, who has Whitmore going No. 9 to the Jazz in his latest mock draft. Whitmore had been viewed as an option for the Rockets (No. 4) or Pistons (No. 5).
  • Although Ausar Thompson canceled a workout with the Pacers (No. 7) last week, he still had a meeting with team officials, he told Fischer. Indiana sent a “select group” of personnel to Atlanta to meet with Thompson over the weekend, Fischer writes.
  • Anthony Black‘s camp “initially showed resistance” to the idea of working out for Orlando due to the Magic‘s guard depth, sources tell Fischer. However, he wound up leaving a strong impression on the team and now thinks he could be picked No. 6 overall, he told Fischer. If the Magic do pick a guard, they’ve given rivals the impression they’d consider trading Cole Anthony, who has a “great relationship” with the front office, or Jalen Suggs. “They didn’t tell me that,” Black said, “but that’s what I figured they’d do if they picked me.”
  • The Lakers have been exploring all kinds of options with their first-round pick (No. 17), including possibly moving up a few slots, Fischer writes. Keyonte George could be a target — the guard has also been linked to the Raptors at No. 13, per Fischer.
  • According to Fischer, Jarace Walker believes he could go as high as No. 5 (Pistons), with a floor possibly being Indiana (No. 7); Taylor Hendricks believes he could go anywhere from No. 5 to No. 12 (Thunder); and Dereck Lively II has been told he could be picked anywhere from No. 10 (Dallas) to No. 20 (Houston).