Mark Williams

Hornets Notes: Curry, Bridges, Williams, Ball, Lee

Charlotte native Seth Curry was only able to suit up eight times for the Hornets after being traded to his hometown team at February’s deadline. A Grade 3 right ankle sprain ended his season early, but he anticipates resuming regular workouts soon and being fully healthy for the start of next season, writes Roderick Boone of The Charlotte Observer.

While his $4MM salary for 2024/25 is non-guaranteed, Curry said this week that he’s hoping to stick with the Hornets.

“Yeah, I definitely want to be a part of it,” Curry said. “It’s got a great, talented locker room. I think the health has been talked about enough, but the health is the main thing. If we get everybody on the court we can definitely have some success and have the foundation, the talent to compete and make the playoffs here. But like I said, it means more for me to play here.”

At age 33, Curry became the oldest player on the Hornets’ roster. And with veterans like Gordon Hayward and Terry Rozier traded away during the season, he quickly emerged as a leader in the locker room.

“It’s funny,” he said. “It happened quick, but I’ve become the oldest guy in the room, most experienced. So, guys were looking at me for wisdom and I was just trying to spread that around the locker room, try to be an example on the floor and off the floor, in the training room, on the bench try to help them as much as possible. Use my eyes, my experience to help those guys play better toward the end of the season, and hopefully that carries into the offseason and next year.”

Here’s more on the Hornets:

  • Veteran forward Miles Bridges, who told the Hornets in February that he wouldn’t sign off on a trade, reiterated this week that his goal in unrestricted free agency is to re-sign with the team. “Yeah, it’s still the same,” Bridges said, per Boone. “I would love to be here. That’s my plan to be here. So, like I said, I love the city of Charlotte. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.” As Boone writes in a separate story, one big offseason question to answer in Charlotte is how the new front office feels about Bridges, who has thrived on the court but has been accused of multiple domestic assaults off the court.
  • Hornets center Mark Williams doesn’t want to be labeled injury-prone and is determined to return better than ever from the nagging back issues that limited him to 19 games this season, Boone relays. “I’m definitely starting to feel better and I’m able to do more. It’s not something where it’s really going to linger,” Williams said. “I’m aiming to play every game next year, so it’s definitely not something I like doing — sitting out. It’s definitely tough. It was a tough year for us. I’m excited for the future, though.”
  • After only playing 58 games over the past two seasons due to ankle problems, LaMelo Ball said he’s going to experiment with protective braces this summer to see if he can find something that feels good, according to Steve Reed of The Associated Press. Ball tried out braces in practices at the start of the 2023/24 season, but didn’t find any that he was entirely comfortable with, Reed adds.
  • It would be surprising if the Hornets don’t have an agreement in place with their next head coach within the next couple weeks, Boone writes in another story for The Observer. Celtics assistant Charles Lee, who was initially identified as a possible frontrunner when word broke that Steve Clifford was stepping down, remains a strong candidate for the job, according to Boone.

Hornets Notes: G. Williams, Offense, M. Williams, Ball

Hornets forward Grant Williams has been on the receiving end of some media criticism recently in his former NBA markets.

Tim MacMahon of ESPN reported after Williams was traded from Dallas to Charlotte last month that he had “personality clashes” and “rubbed a lot of people the wrong way” during his half-season with the Mavs, while Celtics commentator Mike Gorman said this week during an appearance on 98.5 The Sports Hub that Williams was “annoying to everybody” during his time in Boston.

Asked by Roderick Boone of The Charlotte Observer about Gorman’s comments, Williams disputed the characterization.

“I try my best to take the high road on most things. I’ve always tried to treat people with respect,” Williams said. “Gorman was just talking in regard to what he thought he experienced and if you ask any one of my teammates across my career in this league, they’d know that I have not only been a great teammate, but a person they can rely on, a person they could talk to. That’s something that I’ve tried to pride myself on.

“So it’s tough hearing things like that because you never want to have someone attacking your character, especially as a teammate but also as a man. But at the end of the day, you can only focus on what you can control.”

Celtics star Jayson Tatum came to Williams’ defense on Wednesday, tweeting that the former Boston forward was a “great teammate.” Williams said it “meant the world” that Tatum said that about him.

“Honestly, I didn’t even ask him,” Williams told Boone. “So, that’s why it was even cooler and I had to thank him afterward because that’s my dog for life. And all those guys up in Boston are. I talk to those guys more than most in my whole life career. … I know I’ve always tried to treat those guys in Boston with respect, especially the commentating staff. So it surprises me that Gorman said that. But maybe that’s his true opinion.”

Here’s more on the Hornets:

  • The Hornets’ margin for error on offense is much smaller when LaMelo Ball isn’t available, so head coach Steve Clifford has been trying to get his team to follow a specific formula with the star point guard out, Boone writes for The Charlotte Observer. “I know I’m saying the same thing all the time, but it’s offensive pace, offensive force, playing inside-out,” Clifford said. “When the ball hit the paint the other night, our numbers were much better than when it doesn’t. … We just get away from that. We don’t have that kind of team. If Melo is playing, it’s totally different. But with the group we have here, we are capable of playing well but we all have to be playing the same way. And for us, that ball has got to hit the paint before we shoot.”
  • In a mailbag for The Charlotte Observer, Boone explained why he doesn’t expect to see Mark Williams return for the Hornets before the end of the season, laid out why a Ball trade is extremely unlikely, and discussed whether Aleksej Pokusevski has a place in the team’s future, among other topics.
  • Within that mailbag, Boone was asked whether the Hornets will have their eye on any particular positions in the draft and identified two areas of need: Another three-and-D wing and a P.J. Washington replacement at power forward. While Brandon Miller has shown tremendous upside as a three-and-D player, Cody Martin has been limited by injuries for two seasons and Gordon Hayward is no longer around to play that role.

Southeast Notes: Wizards, Richardson, Hornets

Led by Kyle Kuzma‘s 28 points (14 in the fourth quarter), nine assists and eight rebounds, plus double-doubles from Deni Avdija and Richaun Holmes, the Wizards snapped their franchise record-tying 16-game losing streak on Friday vs. Charlotte. They outscored the Hornets 44-24 in the final period to win by 12, with 44 points representing a season high for any quarter, per Josh Robbins of The Athletic (Twitter link).

According to Chase Hughes of Monumental Sports Network (Twitter link), interim head coach Brian Keefe singled out little-used reserve Anthony Gill as a key to the comeback victory due to his “contagious energy.” Kuzma said it meant “a lot” to finally get a win, tweets Robbins.

I’m a little emotionally drained right now,” Kumza said. “But it meant a lot for us to pick that up, being in a big slump for a long time. … I’m just happy for everybody in the locker room to get that dub.”

Here’s more from the Southeast:

  • In a full story for The Athletic, Robbins writes that the Wizards intentionally went down the path of rebuilding to avoid the mediocrity of the past several seasons, but that doesn’t mean the poor results thus far in 2023/24 have been easy to stomach. Even after tonight’s victory, Washington is just 10-53, a half-game behind Detroit for the worst record in the NBA. Everyone involved — the team, front office, owner and fans — will have to exercise patience to see if the new front office under president Michael Winger will eventually be able to build a contender, but it will take some lottery luck in the future as well, Robbins notes.
  • Heat swingman Josh Richardson underwent season-ending shoulder surgery on Wednesday. He has a $3.1MM player option for 2024/25. “It’s a shame,” Spoelstra said of Richardson, per Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. “But some of these things happen. You can’t control it. He had really a great spirit going into it and the surgery went really well. We’ll just look forward to rehabbing him and getting him ready for next year.”
  • LaMelo Ball is far more likely to return this season for the Hornets than second-year center Mark Williams, Roderick Boone of The Charlotte Observer states in a mailbag column. According to Boone, Ball has been “doing just about everything except playing in actual games,” which suggests he could return at some point. The fourth-year guard has had another injury-plagued campaign, appearing in just 22 games due to ankle issues after being limited to 36 last season. Williams, who has only played 19 games due to a back injury, hasn’t been participating in any team-related on-court activities, and Boone would be stunned if he actually plays again in ’23/24. Boone also discusses who might be the primary backup point guard behind Ball and Grant Williams‘ future with the team, among other topics.

Hornets Notes: Trades, Lowry, Bridges, Hayward, Williams, Nnaji

Entering the season, the Hornets felt they had a roster capable of contending for a playoff spot, but they’ve been plagued by injuries and have posted a disappointing 10-40 record. As Roderick Boone of The Charlotte Observer writes, president of basketball operations Mitch Kupchak said on Friday that he didn’t want to use those injuries as an excuse to run back a similar roster next season.

“We could say, ‘Listen, let’s sit pat, everything is going to be OK next year. We got the injury bug this year, so let’s just go through it and you get a good pick and you go from there,'” Kupchak said. “Your record says what you are. We’ve got 10 wins and to just sit and do nothing, we didn’t feel was the prudent thing to do.”

“(New Hornets owners) Rich (Schnall) and Gabe (Plotkin), they wanted to be aggressive. They didn’t want to sit and just assume this team is going to be healthy next year, so our feeling was to get out, balance the team better, add some veterans that’s going to help our younger players in the locker room. And more important or just as important, get assets that we can use to set ourselves up down the road.”

After dealing Terry Rozier to Miami in January, the Hornets made two more moves at the trade deadline, sending Gordon Hayward to Oklahoma City and P.J. Washington to Dallas in exchange for a handful of players and draft picks.

Kupchak is enthusiastic about how those deals will impact the direction of the team and pointed to the first-round picks acquired from Miami and Dallas as strong assets. The Heat’s 2027 first-rounder will be top-14 protected before becoming unprotected in 2028, while the Mavericks’ 2027 first-rounder is just top-two protected.

“A lot of times you get a pick and it’s protected one through 14, (then) one through 10. And then it goes to two second-rounders and there’s really not much upside,” Kupchak said. “Both of these picks have a tremendous amount of upside. We can wait it out and see how they play out in terms of where they end up as a number, and then we can draft a player. Or going forward you can use that pick to make a deal work. They are valuable picks.”

Here’s more on the Hornets:

  • There’s no buyout agreement in place with Kyle Lowry yet, but Kupchak is hopeful that there will be some sort of resolution on the veteran guard’s situation within the next 24 to 48 hours, per Boone.
  • After hanging onto Miles Bridges through the trade deadline, the Hornets are optimistic about their chances of re-signing him as an unrestricted free agent this summer, Boone writes. “I feel comfortable saying Miles has been with us, we drafted him and he’s certainly having a great year, getting better and better as the season goes along,” Kupchak said. “And I don’t see why we wouldn’t want him to be a part of this team for a long, long time.” Bridges, who was suspended by the NBA last April after reaching a plea deal on domestic assault charges related to a 2022 incident, will be back in court later this month as a result of more recent allegations.
  • According to Boone, there were many people in the Hornets organization who were privately frustrated by the number of games Hayward missed during his time with the team, as well as his “inability to play through the majority of his bumps and bruises.” While the veteran forward was effective when he played, turning the page on the Hayward era may be a good thing for the franchise, given how the past four years played out, Boone writes.
  • While the Hornets don’t expect the back injury that has sidelined center Mark Williams for the past two months to affect his career going forward, he’s not close to returning, per Kupchak. The plan is to reevaluate the big man in approximately four weeks. “I can’t say I expect him to play four weeks from now,” Kupchak said, according to Boone. “It’s taking longer than we thought and it’s not just a contusion where you get hit and you get a bruise. It’s a little bit more than that, and it’s just going to take some time for it to heal. … (But) he saw a specialist that’s supposed to be the best in the country recently and we expect 100% return to play.”
  • Kupchak is in Barcelona with assistant general manager Buzz Peterson to visit with draft-and-stash prospect James Nnaji, tweets Boone. Nnaji, 19, was the 31st overall pick in the 2023 draft and remains in Charlotte’s long-term plans.

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.”

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.

Injury Notes: Sharpe, M. Williams, Embiid, Sixers, Lowry

After leaving Sunday’s game vs. Portland due to a knee injury, Nets center Day’Ron Sharpe has been diagnosed with a hyperextended left knee, tweets Brian Lewis of The New York Post. As Lewis relays, Sharpe is expected to be reevaluated by the club in about two weeks.

It’s an unfortunate setback for a player whose role has increased in his third season in Brooklyn. After averaging a modest 11.8 minutes per game in 80 appearances across his two NBA seasons, Sharpe has logged 16.0 MPG in 37 contests so far this season, posting career-best marks in points (7.5), rebounds (7.0), and assists (1.4), among other categories.

In Sharpe’s 592 minutes of action this season, the Nets have a net rating of +7.7. In Brooklyn’s 1,194 minutes without him on the court, that number plummets to -5.8. That’s easily the biggest on/off disparity among Nets rotation players so far in 2023/24.

Here are a few more injury updates from around the NBA:

  • Hornets center Mark Williams, who has been sidelined by a low back ailment since December 8, will be out for at least one more week as he continues to rehab the injury, the team announced on Monday (via Twitter). Charlotte has a 1-14 record in games without Williams so far this season.
  • Sixers center Joel Embiid (left knee swelling) didn’t practice with the team on Monday or Tuesday and appears likely to miss a second consecutive game on Wednesday in Atlanta, per Derek Bodner of PHLY Sports (Twitter links). However, Tobias Harris (left ankle soreness) and De’Anthony Melton (back soreness) each practiced both days and head coach Nick Nurse is confident they’ll be available vs. the Hawks, Bodner adds. Harris sat out on Saturday, while Melton has missed Philadelphia’s past three games.
  • Heat point guard Kyle Lowry exited Monday’s game in the third quarter due to a sprained left hand, but the initial scan on Lowry’s hand came back clean, so he’s considered day-to-day for now, as Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald writes. Miami has taken a committee approach to the point guard responsibilities this season, writes Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel, so if Lowry – who is also battling an illness – does have to miss time, the ball-handling duties will be shared by Tyler Herro, Josh Richardson, and others.
  • In other Heat injury news, Jimmy Butler (toe) has been ruled out for Wednesday’s game vs. Oklahoma City, tweets Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. It’ll be the ninth game in the last 10 that Butler has missed.

Hornets’ Mark Williams Still Struggling With Back Injury

Hornets starting center Mark Williams isn’t close to returning, Roderick Boone of the Charlotte Observer reports.

The 2022 first-round pick hasn’t played since Dec. 8 due to a lower back contusion.

“Yeah, I can’t move like how I want to move,” Williams said. “It’s still tough for me to jump, (have) quick reaction and stuff. I’ve just started to get back into practice. I’m just trying to get back. That’s probably the biggest thing.”

Williams was averaging 12.7 points and 9.7 rebounds per game before he was sidelined. He initially suffered the injury on Nov. 30 and played 29 minutes against Minnesota two nights later. He missed the next game, then struggled through 20 minutes of action against Toronto before the pain became too much to bear.

“I went to the locker room, got an MRI, got a CT (scan), dealing with that strain or whatever again,” he said. “I’ve been just trying to get back. But yeah, it sucks just to be watching. I’m trying to do everything I can treatment-wise.”

The Hornets haven’t been the same without Williams’ defensive presence. They’ve lost 11 straight, including Monday’s 111-93 defeat at the hands of the defending champion Nuggets. Nick Richards has moved into the lineup with Williams out and the team lacks depth behind him.

“I feel like I have a pretty good pain tolerance. But right now I just can’t. I can’t go right now,” Williams said.

The Hornets have already exercised their option on Williams’ contract for the 2024/25 season.

Southeast Notes: Griffin, Johnson, M. Williams, Wizards

After being inactive for the past eight games due to personal reasons, second-year wing AJ Griffin is back with the Hawks and spoke to the media on Thursday, tweets Lauren L. Williams of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Yeah, I would say I’m glad to be back,” he said. “The team has been great to be able to support me through that time stepping away for a little, just for personal reasons. I definitely want to keep it brief and not put it all out there.”

Griffin added (Twitter link via Brad Rowland) that being back on the court and around the team was kind of like opening a present for Christmas Day. That joy. Coming back and doing what you love and knowing that people just love being around you.”

The 16th overall pick of the 2022 draft, Griffin had a solid rookie campaign in 2022/23, averaging 8.9 PPG and 2.1 RPG on .465/.390/.894 shooting in 72 games, including 12 starts (19.5 MPG). However, he hasn’t played much so far in his second season, averaging just 9.2 MPG in 12 appearances.

Here’s more from the Southeast:

  • Jalen Johnson‘s return to the Hawks will provide a needed boost to a team that went just 4-10 without him in the lineup, according to Williams of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (subscriber link). Johnson, who missed a month with a distal radius fracture in his left wrist, recorded 10 points, nine rebounds, four assists and a steal in 29 minutes during Tuesday’s loss to Chicago, his first game back from the injury. The former first-round pick will be eligible for a rookie scale extension in the 2024 offseason.
  • Second-year center Mark Williams has missed the past eight games for the Hornets with a lower back contusion and is officially doubtful for Thursday’s contest against the Lakers, per the latest injury report. “He did more (Tuesday at morning shootaround) than he’s done for a while,” Clifford said of Williams, per Roderick Boone of The Charlotte Observer. “But I don’t think we have a definitive timetable.” The Hornets are 0-9 without Williams in the lineup this season.
  • The Wizards currently have the worst defense in the NBA and the team looked particularly listless on that end during Wednesday’s blowout loss to Toronto, writes Ava Wallace of The Washington Post. The Raptors had gone just 3-10 over their past 13 games entering the contest, but scored 132 points while shooting 57.1% from the field last night. Rebounding issues continue to plague the 5-25 Wizards, Wallace notes, with Toronto winning the battle of the boards 53-34.

Injury Notes: Martin, Porzingis, Tatum, Towns, Cavs

Fifth-year wing Cody Martin was unfortunately limited to seven games last season following left knee surgery, and he has yet to play in 2023/24. However, he could make his season debut on Saturday against Denver, as the Hornets have officially listed him as questionable (Twitter link).

As Rod Boone of The Charlotte Observer tweets, Martin’s last appearance was on January 14, so it’s been 11-plus months since he suited up. Second-year center Mark Williams (low back contusion) seems likely to miss his seventh straight game though, as he’s doubtful for Saturday’s contest.

Here are a few more injury notes from around the NBA:

  • After sustaining a left ankle sprain on Wednesday against Sacramento, Celtics center Kristaps Porzingis has been ruled out for Saturday’s contest vs. the Clippers, tweets Jared Weiss of The Athletic. Jayson Tatum, who missed his first game on Wednesday, is questionable with the same injury as Porzingis. Adam Himmselsbach of The Boston Globe speculates (via Twitter) that Porzingis won’t be sidelined for very long, as he spotted the Latvian big man carrying his own massage table at the team’s hotel on Friday.
  • Timberwolves forward/center Karl-Anthony Towns (left knee soreness) is out for Saturday’s contest in Sacramento, the team announced (via Twitter). However, Towns’ absence is only “precautionary,” according to Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic, who reports that the big man isn’t expected to miss extended time (Twitter link).
  • Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell will miss his third consecutive game on Saturday due to an illness, while Sam Merrill is questionable for the matchup with Chicago with a right wrist sprain, per Chris Fedor of