LaMelo Ball

Southeast Notes: Miller, Curry, Wizards, Young

Rookie forward Brandon Miller is the main reason for optimism in Charlotte, according to Tony Jones of The Athletic, who suggests the Hornets should trade LaMelo Ball and build for the future around Miller.

Although Ball has better stats, Jones views Miller as having more overall impact because of his superior shooting combined with an ability to dribble and pass, along with his impact on defense. Jones sees Miller as a younger version of Paul George, which is a comparison that was made frequently when Miller was in college.

As Jones notes, injuries are the main concern for Ball, who signed a five-year extension last summer that will take effect in 2024/25. He has appeared in just 22 of Charlotte’s 56 games this season after being limited to 36 last year. Even so, Jones believes Ball has enough trade value to provide a nice return for the Hornets, who are also likely to land a top five pick in this year’s draft.

Jones believes Charlotte is headed in the right direction after bringing in Grant WilliamsSeth Curry, Vasilije Micić and Tre Mann at the trade deadline. Each of those players brings something valuable to the roster, Jones adds, and Mann has excelled since becoming the team’s starting point guard.

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • Curry was thrilled to be traded to his hometown Hornets, and have his father, Dell, as one of the team’s broadcasters, writes Roderick Boone of The Charlotte Observer. The whole family was together Friday night in San Francisco as Charlotte faced Stephen Curry‘s Warriors. “It’s special,” Seth Curry said. “When we are in the game, we are locked into the game, so it’s kind of like no different. But just to see him on the floor about to call the game and to see him afterwards it’s special. Because usually we only see him twice a year, four times a year or something like that. And for all three of us to be involved in one game, that’s history.” 
  • Interim coach Brian Keefe is experimenting with rotations for the Wizards, who dropped their 10th straight game Friday night, per Ava Wallace of The Washington Post. During the final part of the season, she expects the team to see what it has in Patrick Baldwin Jr., who was acquired from Golden State last summer, Johnny Davis, a 2022 lottery pick who has never been able to earn consistent playing time, and Eugene Omoruyi, who’s currently on a two-way contract but may be a strong candidate for a standard deal.
  • Hawks guard Trae Young is listed as questionable for Sunday’s game against Orlando due to an injured finger on his left hand, tweets Lauren Williams of The Journal-Constitution.

Southeast Notes: Mann, Ball, Fultz, Heat, Wizards

There wasn’t much playing time available for Tre Mann on a talented Oklahoma City team, but he moved into a starting role after being traded to the Hornets, writes Roderick Boone of The Charlotte Observer. With LaMelo Ball still injured, Mann has been tasked with running Charlotte’s offense and he’s averaging 13.7 points and 7.3 assists in his first three games.

“I think I’m fitting in pretty well,” Mann said. “I’m just coming out, trying to play hard around a bunch of talented guys. We’ve all got really good IQ, so it’s easy playing with guys like that. I think I’m playing well. I’m just trying to show off my playmaking ability as much as I can and it’s been fun.”

Ball will miss his 12th straight game tonight in Utah, but he’s making progress toward returning from a sprained right ankle. A source tells Boone that Ball has resumed on-court activities and is steadily increasing his workload. Mann believes the two guards can form an effective combination whenever Ball comes back.

“I think he can play a little bit off ball and I can do the same,” Mann said. “So, It’s his team and I’m going to adjust to whatever is better for him. For right now, I’m just trying to go out there and play team ball.”

Here’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • The Magic will be without Markelle Fultz for their first game after the All-Star break, writes Jason Beede of The Orlando Sentinel. The seventh-year guard continues to deal with a nagging left knee injury, which has limited him to just 21 games thus far in 2023/24. It’s unclear how much more time Fultz will miss beyond Thursday’s contest in Cleveland, but it’s a situation worth monitoring down the stretch, as the 25-year-old will be an unrestricted free agent this summer.
  • Star forward Jimmy Butler missed the Heat‘s final three games leading into the break due to the death of a family member, but he was back at practice on Thursday and will be available for Friday’s game in New Orleans, tweets Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. Josh Richardson (right shoulder dislocation) and Terry Rozier (right knee sprain) will both be out Friday, but they’re traveling on the team’s four-game road trip, Jackson adds. Veteran big man Kevin Love said Rozier was moving well at Thursday’s practice, though he did not do any live drills (Twitter link via Jackson). Richardson, meanwhile, was in street clothes and wearing a sling. Head coach Erik Spoelstra indicated Rozier had a chance to suit up during the road trip, but the prognosis for Richardson was less optimistic, per Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press (Twitter link). Guard Tyler Herro is questionable for Friday’s contest due to right foot soreness.
  • Key labor unions in northern Virginia and Washington, D.C., publicly announced on Tuesday that they are opposed to Monumental Sports’ plan to move the Wizards from D.C. to Alexandria, Virginia, according to The Associated Press (link via The Northern Virginia AFL-CIO and member unions cited in part an inability to reach a deal for union members to work on construction projects. It’s the latest obstacle in the proposed move, which has drawn opposition from several key figures in the region.

Rory Maher contributed to this post.

Southeast Notes: Kupchak, Hornets, Hayward, Gueye, Krejci, Beal

The Hornets’ front office could get a shakeup after the trade deadline. According to The Athletic’s John Hollinger, the scuttlebutt around league circles is that their new ownership group is planning to soon make a change in the front office.

Whether that involves Mitch Kupchak remains to be seen. Kupchak has been the Hornets’ president of basketball operations and general manager since April 2018.

We have more on the Southeast Division:

  • With Terry Rozier traded to Miami and LaMelo Ball and Gordon Hayward sidelined by injuries, the Hornets are struggling to get settled on offense. They’re saddled with an eight-game losing streak entering Wednesday’s contest against Toronto. ‘We gotta learn to trust the pass more, trust each other,” coach Steve Clifford said, per Alex Zietlow of the Charlotte Observer. “You know, that’s part of how we have to evolve. But we’re playing without one of the most creative players in the world in Melo. Terry obviously creates a lot of shots. And Gordon. So when you get used to playing a certain way, (it’s tough). Now we just have to just flick the switch a little bit. Move the ball, move our bodies a little bit more. And we have more than enough offense on the floor to play well for four quarters.”
  • Hayward, who hasn’t played since Dec. 26 due to a calf injury, is listed as questionable for Wednesday’s game, the team’s PR department tweets.
  • Hawks forward Mouhamed Gueye (right low back stress fracture) has returned to modified practice with the NBA G League’s College Park Skyhawks, according to a team press release. He is traveling with the Hawks this week to continue his rehabilitation plan. Gueye has only appeared in two NBA games this season. Forward Vit Krejci (left shoulder subluxation) practiced Monday with the Skyhawks and is traveling with the Skyhawks for their games this week at Grand Rapids, Mich. Krejci, a two-way player, hasn’t appeared in an NBA game this season.
  • Bradley Beal returned to Washington and dropped a season-high 43 points on his former team on Sunday. The Suns wing said he has a lot of good memories regarding his former NBA home and has no ill will toward the Wizards organization, according to the Noah Trister of The Associated Press. “It was a mutual decision back in the summer. It wasn’t a spiteful or like a disgusting divorce,” Beal said of the offseason trade. “It was a good separation. No hard feelings in it.”

Southeast Notes: Rozier, Hornets, Isaac, Keefe

Even though Terry Rozier hadn’t won with the Heat until Wednesday night, he has noticed a sharp contrast between Miami and his former team, according to Barry Jackson and Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. Rozier, who dropped 18 of his last 21 games with Charlotte before being traded last week, said the Hornets don’t place the same emphasis on winning that the Heat do.

“It’s the total opposite,” Rozier stated. “In Charlotte, you’re kind of used to losing. It’s in the DNA… Over here, it’s the total opposite. Nobody wants to lose. Nobody is fine with it. … This organization, when you lose, it bothers them.”

Although Rozier’s comments sound like an insult to the Hornets, his ex-coach and former teammates don’t seem upset about them, writes Roderick Boone of The Charlotte Observer. Steve Clifford believes Rozier was referring to the added pressure to win that exists in Miami, while Miles Bridges said his team should use Rozier’s analysis as inspiration.

“I mean, he’s not wrong,” Bridges said. “I’m not saying we’ve got losing DNA, but the way that we’ve been taking losses and … I wouldn’t say we are getting used to it, but it’s like we are just moving on. We are not really taking it that serious. We’ve got to take it serious, man. Terry is getting a lot of backlash for what he said, but he’s been in the locker room. He’s been a vet in this locker room and he sees what’s going on. So, we’ve just got to turn that into motivation.”

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • Hornets guard LaMelo Ball missed his third straight game Wednesday and is considered day-to-day with soreness in his right ankle, Boone adds. Gordon Hayward, who hasn’t played since straining his left calf on December 26, has started doing individual basketball activities, but there’s no timetable for his return. Mark Williams is trying to recover from a lower back contusion, but Boone considers it unlikely that he’ll return before the All-Star break if he isn’t cleared to resume team activities soon.
  • The Magic continue to be careful with Jonathan Isaac, who played just eight minutes Monday on the second night of a back-to-back, tweets Jason Beede of The Orlando Sentinel. Coach Jamahl Mosley told reporters that the team’s approach with Isaac is focused on “the long game more than this moment right now.”
  • The Wizards have been invigorated under interim coach Brian Keefe, with a rare two-game winning streak earlier this week, per Ava Wallace of The Washington Post. Wallace notes that players have responded to Keefe’s direct style. “In film, if you’re wrong, you’re wrong. There’s no conversation about it,” Landry Shamet said. “[Keefe’s] a black-and-white guy: ‘This is what we should have been doing, and this is what we did. Here’s the divide.’ And that’s incredibly important as a coach and a leader. It’s been great.”

Southeast Notes: Ball, Miller, Rozier, Bey

LaMelo Ball missed his second consecutive game due to right ankle soreness on Monday. The Hornets star guard admits his frequent absences have taken a toll mentally and that his primary focus is staying off the injury report, Roderick Boone of the Charlotte Observer writes.

“Facts,” Ball said. “That’s pretty much my main thing.”

Ball appeared in just 36 games last season and has missed more than half of Charlotte’s games this season. He’s working with the team’s medical staff, hoping to find ways to keep him on the court more often.

“We are pretty much just trying to put a whole game plan together right now, get everything right, see what it’s going to be, see how my body is feeling, just see what’s the best solution moving forward,” he said.

We have more from the Southwest Division:

  • Brandon Miller‘s ability to soak up knowledge has impressed Hornets coach Steve Clifford. The second pick of the draft is averaging 14.7 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game. “People always look at these guys and think they’re the fastest, strongest, quickest — that’s not at all what it is,” Clifford told Shane Connuck of the Charlotte Observer. “In the NBA, guys that last learn better, they’re smarter, and they pick things up faster. That’s one of (Miller’s) big strengths.”
  • Terry Rozier is still trying to get acclimated to his Heat teammates, Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald notes. The former Hornets guard scored just 26 points in his first three games with Miami before his 21-point outing against Phoenix on Monday. “He’ll figure it out,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “He’s trying to fit in and I get that. We’re all saying the same thing. We want Terry to be Terry. He’s going to unlock other things for us. You can see the burst that he gives us, the rim pressure, which we need. That’s not just the head coach saying that, that’s his teammates saying that.”
  • Hawks forward Saddiq Bey becomes a restricted free agent after the season and he’s been enhancing his value as of late. He scored the game-winning basket on a putback against the Raptors on Sunday. Over the past four games, Bey is shooting 44.8% from the field while averaging 18.3 points and 8.5 rebounds, Lawrence Price III of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution notes. “I don’t really have a specific mentality coming in besides just to play hard and just be grateful for the opportunity,” Bey said. “I try to just be the most multifaceted guy I can be…just try to affect the game in each and every way.”

Hornets Notes: Rozier Trade, Ball, Miller, Lowry, Hayward

After trading Terry Rozier to Miami on Tuesday in exchange for Kyle Lowry‘s expiring contract and a future first-round pick, president of basketball operations Mitch Kupchak said that the financial flexibility the deal affords the Hornets going forward was important. However, getting that first-rounder was the key part of the trade from Charlotte’s perspective, as Rod Boone of The Charlotte Observer writes.

“The pick itself has potential for incredible upside,” Kupchak said. “We don’t know who that player may be several years down the road. But an asset that valuable can also become something that you can put in a trade and make a deal. So. yeah, the financial part of it was a part of it. But getting the pick was probably the most important part.”

According to Boone, one factor in the Hornets’ decision to move on from Rozier at this time is the fact that it will give the team’s backcourt of the future – LaMelo Ball and Brandon Miller – more opportunities to play alongside one another. Kupchak singled out those two players on Tuesday when he discussed Charlotte’s core pieces.

“We think we’ve got a foundation of players in place,” he said. “I’m not going to mention all of our players, but I’m going to mention our two highest picks — LaMelo Ball and Brandon Miller. But there are other players that we’ve pegged that would be very difficult to trade.”

A report last week suggested that Ball, Miller, and center Mark Williams are likely the only players on the Hornets’ roster who are off-limits in trade talks.

Here’s more out of Charlotte:

  • Kupchak indicated on Tuesday that the Rozier trade doesn’t signal the beginning of an all-out rebuild, per Boone. “I wouldn’t call it a rebuild,” Kupchak said. “A rebuild is, in my opinion, something where you start from scratch and you convert everything you have into draft capital, and you create gobs of cap room, and you start taking in contracts to get picks and it could drag out years. That’s not the case. I think it’s more of a case of recognizing where we are this year.”
  • Still, Kupchak suggested the Hornets will remain very open to making additional trades on or before February 8, as Steve Reed of The Associated Press relays. “I can’t discount the fact that we’re a team that is trying to build something that can sustain something going forward, and … we will look for opportunities,” Kupchak said when asked about the possibility of more deals. “And if there is something out there we will look to do it. It’s as simple as that.”
  • The Hornets are expected to explore the possibility of flipping Lowry to a new team, though two league sources who spoke to Boone believe he’ll ultimately become a buyout candidate instead. Either way, it doesn’t sound like Charlotte is intent on actually playing the veteran point guard. “He’s got to report, he’s got to pass a physical,” Kupchak said of Lowry. “It’s going to take a couple of days. I can’t say that that’s something we look to accomplish right away. We may wait to see what happens out of respect to him and what he’s accomplished in this league. Maybe we wait to see and have the trade deadline pass, rather than have him relocate and start something that may or may not take place. I think that’s probably what we will do. Don’t know for sure, but that seems to make the most sense.”
  • Veteran forward Gordon Hayward is another player on a sizable veteran contract who is available in trade talks. Boone hears from league sources that Hayward is “at the very top” of Charlotte’s list of trade candidates. However, the 33-year-old has been out since December due to a left calf strain and there’s no timeline for his return, so it’s unclear whether the Hornets will be able to acquire anything of value for him. He’s another possible buyout candidate if no trade arises, Boone notes.
  • While it’s typically difficult to determine right away which teams won and lost a trade, there’s one clear winner in the deal between the Heat and Hornets, according to Scott Fowler of The Charlotte Observer: Rozier. As Fowler details, Rozier appeared in 50 postseason contests with Boston during his first four NBA seasons, but didn’t get to play a single playoff game during his time in Charlotte — that figures to change in Miami.

Minimum Game Requirement For Awards Looms Large For Super-Max Candidates

As we detailed back in September, there are several players around the NBA who would benefit financially from making an All-NBA team or winning a Most Valuable Player of Defensive Player of the Year award in 2023/24.

Heat big man Bam Adebayo, Kings guard De’Aaron Fox, Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram, Nuggets guard Jamal Murray are among the players who would become eligible to sign a super-max (Designated Veteran) contract during the 2024 offseason by earning one of those honors this season.

Mavericks guard Luka Doncic and Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander could ensure they become eligible to sign a super-max extension in 2025 by making this year’s All-NBA team. Grizzlies big man Jaren Jackson Jr. could do the same by winning a second consecutive Defensive Player of the Year award.

Additionally, Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards, Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton, and Hornets guard LaMelo Ball signed maximum-salary rookie scale extensions that will be worth 30% of next season’s salary cap (instead of 25%) if they make an All-NBA team this spring. These “Rose Rule” contracts are essentially “mini” super-max deals.

Not all of those 10 players look like legitimate All-NBA, MVP, or DPOY candidates this season, but many of them will be in the mix. However, as Tim Bontemps and Bobby Marks write at, the newly implemented 65-game minimum requirement for award winners looms large for this group.

Without appearing in 65 games (including at least 63 of 20-plus minutes and two of 15-plus minutes), these players will be ineligible to earn an All-NBA spot, and without that end-of-season honor, they won’t be in position to receive a higher maximum salary.

According to Bontemps and Marks, a player who misses more than 17 of his team’s games, falling short of appearing in the required 65, can technically still qualify for award recognition, but only in very specific scenarios:

  1. If the player appeared in at least 62 games (and 85% of his team’s games to that point) and then suffers a season-ending injury.
  2. If the player files a grievance and presents “clear and convincing evidence” that his team limited his games or his minutes with the intention of depriving him of award eligibility.

While there’s also a clause for “extraordinary circumstances,” the NBA and NBPA don’t expect that clause to apply to injury absences, since it would essentially defeat the purpose of the rule, per ESPN’s duo.

Of the 10 players mentioned above, one is already ineligible for a major end-of-season award — Ball has appeared in just 19 of the Hornets’ first 39 games due to an ankle injury, so even if he doesn’t miss a game for the rest of the season, he’ll max out at 62 appearances. Given Charlotte’s spot in the standings, Ball would have been an All-NBA long shot anyway, but he has been playing at a very high level when he’s been healthy.

The 65-game mark remains within reach for the rest of this group, though some players can’t really afford any sort of extended absence. Adebayo, for instance, has missed 10 of Miami’s 42 games so far and only logged 12 minutes in an 11th, which means it won’t count toward his 65. Seven more missed games would cost him his award eligibility.

Murray is in a similar spot — he has missed 14 of Denver’s 43 games and played just 10 minutes in a 15th, so three more missed games would make him ineligible for award consideration.

Doncic has missed seven games for the Mavericks, while Fox has missed six for the Kings, so they’re on pace to play in enough games, but if either player turns an ankle or tweaks a hamstring and is forced to the sidelines for a couple weeks, he’d be in trouble.

It looked like that might happen with Haliburton, who sat out just three of the Pacers’ first 36 games, then strained his hamstring earlier this month. He was expected to be unavailable for at least a couple weeks, but returned to action on Friday night, ahead of schedule, after missing just five contests.

Haliburton is a legitimate All-NBA candidate and would be in line for a projected $41MM pay increase across his five-year extension if he earns one of those 15 spots. Were those financial considerations a factor in his early return to action? Would he still have been inactive on Friday if that 65-game minimum weren’t in play?

It’s hard to imagine the Pacers allowing their franchise player to risk potential re-injury by coming back too early, but Haliburton certainly has a ton of motivation to play in every game he can this year.

As Howard Beck of The Ringer writes, that 65-game minimum will be a fascinating subplot to follow in the second half of the season. Although we’ve focused here on players whose future earnings could be directly tied to whether or not they claim an end-of-season award, there are many other potential All-NBA candidates who may fall short of 65 games, changing the equation for voters.

Joel Embiid, Jimmy Butler, Kyrie Irving, Donovan Mitchell, Devin Booker, Zion Williamson, and Lauri Markkanen are among the stars who have been out for eight or more games so far this season, Beck observes. Kevin Durant has missed seven.

The 65-game minimum isn’t necessary to earn votes for Sixth Man of the Year, Rookie of the Year, or an All-Rookie spot, but the other major awards require at least 65 appearances.

In 2023, five of the 15 players who made an All-NBA team appeared in fewer than 65 games, but that won’t be the case in 2024. The players who have the most riding on All-NBA honors from a financial perspective may be the ones most motivated to stay on the court, but as Adebayo points out, you “can’t stop injuries from happening.”

“God forbid nobody gets hurt, but you can’t [prevent] injury,” he said, per Bontemps and Marks. “I think it’s crazy that we even have the rule. It’s one of those things where you just accept the rule. … I guess use your 17 games as wisely as possible.”

Hornets Rumors: Trade Deadline, Untouchables, Rozier, Hayward

The Hornets are expected to be more active at this season’s trade deadline than they have been in recent transaction windows, according to Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports, who notes that the team is under new ownership after the sale of the franchise to a group led by Rick Schnall and Gabe Plotkin was finalized last summer.

Although Schnall and Plotkin reached an agreement to buy a majority stake in the team from Michael Jordan in June, the transaction wasn’t completed until August, so the new owners weren’t yet in full control at the draft and in free agency. That means this year’s trade deadline represents the Hornets’ first opportunity to reshape its roster under their new leadership group.

Here’s more from Fischer on the Hornets:

  • According to Fischer, league personnel have indicated that the only three players on Charlotte’s roster that the team isn’t open to moving are guard LaMelo Ball, forward Brandon Miller, and center Mark Williams.
  • Terry Rozier‘s impressive play this season – including a career-best 24.0 points and 6.8 assists per game on .457/.369/.875 shooting – has made him a more viable trade candidate than ever, Fischer says, adding that the guard has a “known preference” to end up with the Heat if he’s dealt. Rozier, who is earning $23.2MM in 2023/24, is owed $51MM+ across two more seasons after this one.
  • Veteran forward Gordon Hayward has generated a good deal of rival interest, but seems more likely to change teams via buyout than trade, per Fischer. While that could open the door for certain teams that aren’t in position to match Hayward’s $31.5MM salary to pursue him, it could close the door on others — a club whose salary is above either tax apron wouldn’t be permitted to sign him on the buyout market.

Southeast Notes: Hornets, Black, Bagley, Livers

The Hornets were expecting to improve once their roster got healthier, but it hasn’t worked out that way, writes Roderick Boone of The Charlotte Observer. Charlotte dropped its fifth straight game Sunday at Miami and its second since LaMelo Ball returned after missing 20 games with a severely sprained right ankle. The two losses with Ball have been by 36 and 17 points, and the players understand that something has to change.

“I think we are going to talk it over at a players’ only (meeting) and I think we are going to figure it out,” Terry Rozier said, “because as bad as things are going, we are only five, six games behind a (play-in tournament spot). We win the next three, things can turn for us. We’ve just got to believe that as a team and put that effort toward it.”

Postseason talk doesn’t seem realistic for a team with just one victory in its past 17 games. The Hornets are struggling everywhere, as the offense failed to reach 100 points Sunday for the third time in four games and coach Steve Clifford lamented a lack of effort on defense.

“A bunch of stuff is happening,” said P.J. Washington, who was back in the lineup after missing three games with a sprained ankle. “If I had the answers, I feel like things would be different. But for us, we’ve just got to buy into the process and keep trying to get better each and every day and have a better attitude and play more together.”

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • Rookie guard Anthony Black has become the Magic‘s best defender and has gotten used to matching up with elite scorers every night, notes Jason Beede of The Orlando Sentinel. Black’s 108.1 defensive rating is tops among all rookies who average more than 15 minutes per game and ranks 25th overall in the NBA, according to Beede. “Really just getting more settled in,” Black said. “Game by game, I feel like I’m getting more comfortable and finding my spots — just being aggressive when I’m out there and disrupting the game on defense.”
  • Marvin Bagley III and Isaiah Livers will get a chance to prove themselves with the Wizards, but fans shouldn’t expect them to be a lot better than they were in Detroit, James L. Edwards III of The Athletic says in a discussion with Josh Robbins about Sunday’s trade. Edwards views Bagley as a proven low-post scorer with limited impact on defense, while Livers was a huge disappointment as a shooter this season.
  • The Wizards created a $3.5MM trade exception in the deal with the Pistons, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). Washington could have structured the trade to create an exception worth $6.8MM, but it would’ve required the team to use an existing $12MM+ TPE.

Southeast Notes: Wizards, Ball, Miller, Martin, Isaac

Billionaire executive Laurene Powell Jobs plans to sell about half of her substantial stake in Monumental Sports & Entertainment, the holding company that controls the Washington Wizards, Capital One Arena, and the NHL’s Washington Capitals, according to Eben Novy-Williams and Scott Soshnick of Sportico. Powell Jobs will reportedly sell approximately 10% of Monumental.

The widow of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, Powell Jobs is one of the wealthiest women in the world, with major shares in Apple and the Walt Disney Company. She is currently the second-largest Monumental Sports & Entertainment shareholder, only trailing managing partner Ted Leonsis, per Sportico. It’s unclear if that will remain the case once she sells 10% of the company.

As Sportico’s authors write, it’s too early to speculate on how much 10% of Monumental might be worth, but a smaller stake sold at a $4.05 billion valuation last year.

Here’s more from the Southeast:

  • Hornets star LaMelo Ball returned from a 20-game absence on Friday following a severe right ankle sprain, recording 28 points, five assists and five steals in 27 minutes. While the 22-year-old said he felt “great,” the blowout loss to San Antonio didn’t sit well with him, writes Roderick Boone of The Charlotte Observer. “It’s always good to play basketball, but (shoot), not like that,” Ball said. “But it was cool to get back out there.”
  • On the same day Ball returned, the injury-plagued Hornets lost No. 2 pick Brandon Miller to a lower back contusion, according to Boone, who says the young wing was still in discomfort after the game. “That definitely took a little bit out of us for sure,” head coach Steve Clifford said. “Hopefully, he’s OK and it’s not serious.”
  • Heat wing Caleb Martin recorded 11 points, four rebounds and two assists in 24 minutes during Friday’s win over Orlando, which marked his first game back from an ankle injury, as Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel relays (subscriber link). Martin had missed the past seven games with a right ankle sprain. “Caleb is so dynamic,” Bam Adebayo said. “He can score. He can defend. He can play point if you need him to. You can put him in so many different roles and he accepts that challenge.
  • Magic big man Jonathan Isaac is on track to return on Saturday vs. OKC following a 10-game absence, tweets Jason Beede of The Orlando Sentinel. One of the team’s best defenders, Isaac missed nine games due to a right hamstring strain before missing a 10th game with an illness, Beede notes.