Nick Smith

Southeast Notes: Rozier, Hornets, Bagley, Harris

The Hornets will find it difficult to replace everything Terry Rozier brought to the team both on and off the court, writes Roderick Boone of The Charlotte Observer. With Rozier being traded to Miami this week, Charlotte lost one of its top scoring threats as well as a vocal veteran leader who set an example for his younger teammates.

“He was great in the way that he practiced because he truly cares,” coach Steve Clifford said. “Anytime we did a drill in practice, particularly defensively, he’d be the first guy to jump in. I think things like that are hard to replace and they can’t be faked. We have other guys who have leadership qualities, too, and now they’ll have more of an opportunity to step forward.”

Clifford expects rookie Brandon Miller to get a larger role in the offense as the Hornets try to replace Rozier’s 23.2 points per game. Clifford plans to rely more on younger players in general, but he’ll be careful not to give them more responsibility than they’re ready to handle.

“Right now, Nick Smith Jr. is in a role that he’s doing a good job with,” he said. “If you double that, it’s going to be hard. What we need is some of these other guys to play a bit more. Nick Smith Jr. can play a little bit more, but he’s just not ready for 26 minutes a night. He’s doing a really good job with the minutes he’s been given, but we’re going to have to figure that out.”

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • In a separate story, Boone examines which Hornets players could be traded before the February 8 deadline. The most intriguing possibilities are impending free agents Gordon Hayward, who has a $31.5MM expiring contract, and Miles Bridges, who might have some trade value if management decides he’s not part of the team’s future. Boone also lists James Bouknight, Nick Richards, Ish Smith and P.J. Washington as players who could be on the move.
  • Marvin Bagley III continues to look like a different player since the Wizards acquired him from Detroit, observes Ava Wallace of The Washington Post. Bagley came off the bench to score 17 points and grab 15 rebounds Wednesday night, collecting six of the team’s seven offensive boards. “I’m just playing hard, man. I’m just trying to bring energy whenever I’m on the floor, trying to be aggressive, just do what I do,” Bagley said. “Now we’ve just got to put it all together to try to finish games and try to get a win.”
  • Magic two-way guard Kevon Harris is trying to get caught up after missing the first half of the season with knee soreness, per Jason Beede of The Orlando Sentinel. Harris played his first G League game of the season earlier this month and hopes to eventually find a way to help the NBA team. “I’m just grateful to be back out there on the floor with the team,” he said. “I’m still trying to get in my rhythm out there and trying to have fun out there right now. I’ve been out for a few months, so it feels good to be back out there on the court and getting back to the flow of things.”

Hornets Notes: Martin, Miller, Injuries, Smith

A nearly year-long absence ended for Hornets forward Cody Martin when he returned to the court Saturday night, writes Roderick Boone of The Charlotte Observer. Martin came off the bench to score six points in 17 minutes in his first NBA game since January 14.

After appearing in just seven games last season, Martin had a long road back after arthroscopic surgery on his left knee. Boone notes that he was limited to individual drills in training camp and has been slowly increasing his activity level to the point where he was recently able to be a full participant in practice.

“Specifics-wise, I could go and talk about it all day with just trying to figure out what the exact reasoning is, and the reality of it is I know that I wasn’t right,” said Martin, who admits to being frustrated by the slow recovery process. “My body wasn’t feeling good. I was having pain and I wasn’t feeling like myself. And it was a variety of different things. It’s tough, especially when you are out that long. It’s tough when you know you are not yourself and you are preparing and doing everything you can, and you are still not there. You want to get back out there, but in reality you are not helping yourself or helping your team. So the best thing I can do is make sure that I am myself so that I can contribute the way I need to.”

There’s more from Charlotte:

  • Even with Martin’s return, the Hornets continue to be plagued by injuries, Boone states in a separate story. With starters LaMelo Ball, Mark Williams and Terry Rozier already sidelined, the team got another scare as rookie Brandon Miller was forced out of Saturday’s game when Denver’s Peyton Watson landed on him after a drive to the basket in the first quarter. Miller didn’t return to the game and is considered day-to-day with a sprained right ankle.
  • The injuries have contributed to a seven-game losing streak, but the players believe they can be much better than their current 7-20 record if the roster ever gets healthy, Boone adds. The Hornets have 114 missed games due to injuries, second only to Memphis, and seven players have been inactive for five or more. “Our defense and our rebounding is getting better,” Miles Bridges said. “So we’ve just got to build off that and when we get those guys back it will help us even more so we can start putting these Ws up.”
  • Nick Smith Jr. thrilled the Charlotte crowd with a 17-point outburst in the fourth quarter Saturday night, per Shane Connuck of The Charlotte Observer. The rookie guard has seen limited playing time, but he showed he’s capable of providing an offensive spark. “He’s got to get better at the other things so that the team functions well when he’s out on the court; he knows that,” coach Steve Clifford said. “But he’s a shot maker. And tonight, he got going.”

Southeast Notes: Ball, Williams, Smith Jr., Adebayo, Robinson, Jaquez

Hornets guard LaMelo Ball suffered a severe sprain of his right ankle on November 26 and he’ll be reevaluated in approximately one week. Ball told The Charlotte Observer’s Roderick Boone that he’s gradually progressing in his recovery from the injury.

“Just slow progress. I’m doing treatment every day, just trying to get better,” the Hornets star said. “From when it happened, it feels a little better.”

Ball is optimistic he can return to the Hornets lineup sooner than expected: “It feels way better than when it happened because at first I couldn’t even put any pressure on my foot. But now I can stand on two feet, walk a little. Still (have) a little limp, but way better than it was.”

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • The Hornets list Mark Williams (low back contusion) and Nick Smith Jr. (right foot) as doubtful for the their game against Miami on Monday. Williams, who is averaging 12.7 points and 9.7 rebounds, departed after playing 20 minutes against Toronto on Friday.
  • Heat center Bam Adebayo will miss his fourth straight game due to a left hip contusion, according to Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald. With Adebayo sidelined, Orlando Robinson recorded the first double-double of his career against Toronto on Wednesday. Robinson had a rough outing against Cleveland on Friday with a plus/minus of -18 in 20 minutes. His $1.8MM salary doesn’t fully guarantee until Jan. 10.
  • Jaime Jaquez played four years of college ball and he’s boosted the Heat immediately, averaging 12.2 points (on 52.2% shooting), 3.6 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game. The 18th overall pick of the June draft is proving that experienced college players can bring more to the table than a one-and-done, Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel notes. “I think the fact that he played four years of college, for sure, was viewed as a negative thing and that’s a shame right now because he was a winning player,” coach Erik Spoelstra said.

Southeast Notes: Adebayo, Heat, Magic, Wizards, McGowens, Smith

Heat center Bam Adebayo went to the locker room in the second quarter of Miami’s Thursday victory over the Pacers after re-aggravating a hip injury, then was later ruled out for the rest of the game.

He came in those last four minutes of the second quarter and he was just getting some treatment at halftime with the intention to come back,” head coach Erik Spoelstra said, per Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald. “I basically talked to him in my office and just said, ‘Look, you’re laboring like the fourth quarter of the New York game and it’s November right now. I’m not putting you back in in the second half. I’m taking this decision out of your hands.’ I didn’t even talk to the trainers at that point.

This lingering hip issue has caused Adebayo to miss three games this season already. While it hasn’t yet kept him out of action long-term, it’s still worth monitoring Miami’s leading scorer and rebounder.

It’s not, thankfully, something serious,” Spoelstra said. “It’s just you play competitive NBA basketball, you get hit, you’re jumping and you’re twisting, all that stuff. He heals fast, so we’ll continue to treat him and see where we are.

With Adebayo out of action, the Heat turned to Thomas Bryant, who had previously been out of the rotation, but he only logged six minutes to start the second half. Orlando Robinson also saw some action, but Kevin Love took on the brunt of the workload at the position.

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • Spoelstra made headlines this offseason when he said he felt the Heat were deeper this year than last. At the time, the Heat had just missed out on trading for Damian Lillard and lost Gabe Vincent and Max Strus to free agency. But Spoelstra appears to have been proven right, with Miami’s depth propelling the team in the early parts of the season, Chiang writes in a separate piece. Even with Tyler Herro unavailable, the Heat’s reserves outscored Indiana’s bench 66-23 on Thursday. Love, Josh Richardson, Caleb Martin and Jaime Jaquez are among the bench players currently flourishing. “That’s scary, man,” Martin said. “Shoot, Duncan is coming off a hand injury, you got Tyler who’s not even back in the mix. We got a lot of guys we can turn to and that’s the scary thing about it. … We just got a lot of talented dudes who are ready whenever their name is going to be called.
  • The Magic, whose 13-5 record is the second-best in the NBA, are one of the league’s top teams. Josh Robbins of The Athletic analyzes how Orlando set the standard for what a rebuild should look like, and compares it to how the Wizards have started theirs. As Robbins observes, the Magic sold high on their core at the right time, primarily by turning Nikola Vucevic into Franz Wagner, a baton handoff for franchise cornerstone, by way of trade. Robbins opines that for the Wizards, the best time to trade Bradley Beal, their centerpiece at the time, was from 2019-21. Then, when former decision-makers gave Beal a no-trade clause, it forced newly hired president Michael Winger and general manager Will Dawkins to sell low on the three-time All-Star, failing to kick-start a rebuild in the way the Magic did when they traded Vucevic.
  • Hornets guards Bryce McGowens and Nick Smith are both getting increased opportunities in Charlotte, with each scoring season highs in Thursday’s win over the Nets. “Bryce is just putting a lot of work in and it’s showing,” Charlotte guard Terry Rozier said, per The Charlotte Observer’s Roderick Boone. “That’s all it is. We are all happy for him and hopefully he can keep it going.” Smith said he’s enjoying the chance to contribute as a young rookie.

Hornets Notes: Washington, Bouknight, Nnaji, Smith

P.J. Washington is willing to consider accepting his qualifying offer if he can’t reach an agreement on a new contract with the Hornets, sources tell Sean Deveney of Some progress has been made in negotiations, according to Deveney’s sources, but the team still hasn’t offered a number that would convince Washington to commit to a long-term deal. Accepting the $8.5MM QO would make him an unrestricted free agent in 2024.

Washington is the best player on our list of the top 50 free agents who remains unsigned. He reclaimed his role as a full-time starter last season and averaged a career-best 15.7 PPG in 73 games.

Teammate Miles Bridges accepted his $7.9MM qualifying offer after originally seeking a new deal starting at $20MM per season, so the Hornets could have more money than expected to offer Washington, Deveney adds. Charlotte might be reluctant to have both Washington and Bridges on the open market next summer, and Deveney points out that the new ownership group may also work in Washington’s favor.

There’s more on the Hornets:

  • James Bouknight has been spending a lot of time in the weight room as he tries to earn a spot in the team’s rotation, writes Roderick Boone of The Charlotte Observer. Bouknight was a lottery pick in 2021, but he h as only played in 65 combined games during his first two seasons. He hopes to impress the coaching staff with his approach to the game during Summer League. “I’m not going out there and trying to score 20 points, 30 points,” Bouknight said. “I’m just going out there and working on the stuff that we need to use during the season. Continue to be in the right spots on defense — whether it’s making the right pass, making the right decision. Just working on what we need during the year.” 
  • James Nnaji‘s debut was delayed while he awaited his international clearance from FIBA, Boone adds. The second-round pick missed Charlotte’s first three practices and its first game at the California Classic while waiting for the clearance to be approved. “It was frustrating because I thought FIBA could write it and give it right away,” Nnaji said. “But they were delayed the whole time, and it was out of my control.”
  • The Hornets feel fortunate that they were able to grab Nick Smith Jr. with the 27th pick after concerns about his knees caused him to slide, per Matt Ryan of The Charlotte Observer. Summer League head coach Marlon Garnett has been impressed with Smith’s work ethic. “I would much rather have a guy like that,” Garnett said, “that you have to tone down a little bit so he can channel all that energy and make sure he’s in the right place at the right time, that he’s not getting spread out in situations, than to have somebody who maybe comes off as really lazy and casual and you got to kind of like amp him up.”

Nick Smith Signs Rookie Contract With Hornets

Nick Smith Jr. has signed his rookie contract with the Hornets, according to the NBA transactions log.

The 6’5” guard out of Arkansas, who missed nearly two months of his lone college season due to a knee injury, will receive $2,463,960 if he signed for the usual 120% of the rookie scale amount at his slot.

The 27th overall pick will make $12,651,907 over his first four NBA seasons if the team options are eventually exercised for the final two years.

Smith was the second of Charlotte’s two first-round picks. The Hornets drafted potential franchise player Brandon Miller with the No. 2 pick.

Smith could jump right into the Hornets’ rotation as LaMelo Ball‘s backup.

Draft Rumors: Lively, Miller, Henderson, Amen Thompson, Whitmore

Dereck Lively’s strong showing during the pre-draft process could make him a top-10 pick, according to Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report. The Duke center was considered to be a mid-to-late first-rounder when he declared for the draft, but sources tell Wasserman that he has been impressing teams with his shooting touch during his pro day and workouts.

Lively didn’t have a large role in the Blue Devils’ offense, averaging just 5.2 points and 3.4 field goal attempts per game. However, teams have watched his videos from high school and believe he may have potential as a stretch four. That combined with his shot-blocking ability give him the profile of a modern NBA big man.

The Wizards at No. 8 are considered the highest potential draft spot for Lively, according to Wasserman, who hears that the Mavericks at 10, Magic at 11, Thunder at 12 and Pelicans at 14 are also interested.

There are more draft rumors to pass along, all from Wasserman:

  • Brandon Miller and Scoot Henderson both have supporters in the Hornets‘ front office, sources tell Wasserman. Today’s planned workout and meeting with owner Michael Jordan could tip the scales on which player is selected at No. 2. Miller has been the presumed pick for several weeks, but Wasserman hasn’t been able to track down how that rumor began. Most scouts that he’s talked to see Henderson as the better player, but Charlotte has to consider who would fit best alongside LaMelo Ball.
  • The Rockets‘ choice at No. 4 appears to be coming down to Amen Thompson or Cam Whitmore. Sources tell Wasserman that the team likely views Thompson as the best player available, but its confidence in landing James Harden in free agency could influence whether it wants a play-maker like Thompson or a scorer like Whitmore. The Villanova forward has been impressive during pre-draft workouts and has made the decision more difficult for Houston’s front office, Wasserman adds. Sources tell him that Thompson is still considered the more likely choice because of his fit with Jalen Green.
  • Olivier-Maxence Prosper has raised his stock continuously since the draft combine and may go in the top 20, according to Wasserman’s sources. The Marquette guard has worked out for at least 16 teams, displaying defensive skills, a competitive attitude and shooting potential. Several lottery teams are interested, according to Wasserman, but they may consider trading down for him.
  • Arkansas’ Anthony Black is considered to be the most likely choice for the Wizards, and sources tell Wasserman that the Jazz are expected to take Black at No. 9 if Washington passes on him.
  • Michigan’s Kobe Bufkin appears to have reached lottery status, with rival teams seeing the Raptors as his floor at No. 13. Wasserman notes that Bufkin hasn’t taken part in many workouts, which could indicate that he has received a draft promise.
  • Wasserman identifies Lively, Bufkin, Indiana’s Jalen Hood-Schifino and France’s Bilal Coulibaly as players who have probably risen into the lottery, leaving Baylor’s Keyonte George and Arkansas’ Nick Smith Jr. as the most likely to slide into the 15-20 range.
  • Belmont’s Ben Sheppard may be a target for teams looking to trade up into the middle of the first round, Wasserman adds.
  • Wasserman hears that the Rockets aren’t expected to keep their pick at No. 20 and appear willing to trade it for a future first-rounder.
  • Once Kansas sharpshooter Gradey Dick is off the board, UConn’s Jordan Hawkins will be the next target for teams in need of shooting help, according to Wasserman, who states that the Magic might consider him at No. 11.

Draft Notes: Rockets, Thompsons, Black, Green Room Invites, Osunniyi, Burton

The Rockets hold the No. 4 pick and they were visited this week by three candidates who could potentially be selected at that spot. The Overtime Elite brother duo of Amen Thompson and Ausar Thompson and Arkansas’ Anthony Black met with Houston’s brass. Amen and Ausar are currently ranked No. 4 and No. 5, respectively, on ESPN’s Best Available list with Black slotted at No. 8. The Thompsons reportedly met recently with the Pistons, who hold the No. 5 pick. They’ve also visited the Hornets (No. 2) and Trail Blazers (No. 3). There has been much less intel on Black’s pre-draft visits.

We have more draft-related info:

Draft Notes: Hawks, Hornets, Smith Jr., Heat, Delaire, Gardner

Kentucky guard Cason Wallace, who worked out for the Wizards on Monday, will not participate in his previously scheduled workout for the Hawks on Tuesday, Lauren Williams of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution tweets. Sincere Carry (Kent State), Armaan Franklin (Virginia), Seneca Knight (Illinois State), Xavier Castaneda (Akron), Toumani Camara (Dayton) and Vincent Valerio-Bodon (Sopron KC) will visit Atlanta on Tuesday. The Hawks hold the No. 15 pick in the first round.

We have more draft-related news:

  • Camara and Franklin were among the prospects who visited the Hornets on Monday, the team’s PR department tweets. Colby Jones (Xavier), Justyn Mutts (Virginia Tech), Julian Phillips (Tennessee) and Daivien Williamson (Wake Forest) also worked out for Charlotte. Jones and Phillips are considered potential first-round picks.
  • Arkansas guard Nick Smith Jr., a potential lottery pick, will visit the Heat in the near future, Josh Robbins of The Athletic tweets. Smith worked out for Washington on Monday.
  • San Diego Jaiden Delaire will remain in the draft, according to Zagoria. Delaire, who averaged 9.2 PPG and 5.3 RPG last season at San Diego, had his waiver request to play another college season denied by the NCAA. Delaire appeared in just 12 games last season due to broken toe and broken thumb but is “100% healthy now,” he told Zagoria (Twitter link).
  • Marist center Patrick Gardner has worked out for the Warriors, Nets and Magic, Zagoria reports in another tweet. He also has workouts scheduled with the Wizards, Bucks, Cavaliers, Pelicans and Celtics. Gardner averaged 19.1 PPG, 6.6 RPG and shot 38.3% from 3-point range last season.

Southeast Notes: Wallace, Smith Jr., Hornets, Herro, Donaldson

Potential lottery picks and point guards Cason Wallace and Nick Smith Jr. worked out for the Wizards on Monday, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington tweets.

Kentucky’s Wallace is ranked No. 14 overall on ESPN’s latest Best Available list, one slot under Arkansas’ Smith. Kentucky’s Oscar Tshiebwe, UCLA’s Tyger Campbell, Texas’ Marcus Carr and Iowa State’s Osun Osunniyi also participated in the Wizards’ workout.

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • From all indications, the Hornets’ selection with the No. 2 pick will come down to guard Scoot Henderson or forward Brandon Miller, according to Roderick Boone of the Charlotte Observer. Henderson worked out for the Trail Blazers, who hold the No. 3 pick, on Saturday. Charlotte is expected to get a visit from Henderson sometime before the draft. When he does come in to see the Hornets’ staff, he’s expected to go solo. “For sure, that’s what I’ve been doing all summer, working out by myself,” Henderson said. Miller hasn’t worked out for Charlotte yet, though did speak with the Hornets at the combine.
  • Should the Heat even bother to play Tyler Herro at this point? South Florida Sun Sentinel beat writer Ira Winderman tackles that question in his latest mailbag. Herro has ramped up his workouts after undergoing hand surgery and could be in uniform for Game 3 on Wednesday. However, Miami’s rotation has been so effective without him, Herro may not have a spot to claim. Perhaps he could take Kyle Lowry or Duncan Robinson‘s minutes but both have produced in key moments, particularly Robinson. It may be a moot point, since Herro is still feeling soreness in the hand.
  • The Hawks have added former Pistons and Raptors assistant Brittni Donaldson to Quin Snyder’s coaching staff, Jeff Schultz of The Athletic tweets. She is the first female coach in franchise history and her job will focus on analytics as well as player development. She worked frequently with Detroit rookie guard Jaden Ivey at his request this past season, Lauren Williams of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution tweets.