Vernon Carey Jr.

Hornets Acquire Montrezl Harrell From Wizards

7:08pm: The trade is official, according to a Wizards press release. The pick Washington is receiving is a conditional seconder (2023 or 2024 from Boston via Charlotte).

The Hornets’ announcement states that the Wizards will receive the Celtics’ 2023 second-rounder if it’s not in the top 45. Presumably, if that pick lands in its protected range, Washington would instead get Boston’s 2024 second-rounder.


1:26pm: The Wizards are finalizing a deal to send veteran center Montrezl Harrell to the Hornets, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Washington will get Vernon Carey and Ish Smith in return, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). The Wizards will also receive a second-round pick, per Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link).

Harrell, 28, will provide a rugged interior presence for a Charlotte team that has been searching for help in the middle. He was acquired from the Lakers in the five-team offseason trade that sent Russell Westbrook to L.A., and averaged 14.1 points and 6.7 rebounds in 46 games with the Wizards.

Moving Harrell relieves the logjam in the middle that Washington has been dealing with ever since Thomas Bryant returned from an ACL injury last month. However, the timing of the move is interesting because Harrell talked publicly over the weekend about the negative mood in the team’s locker room.

Harrell has a $9.7MM expiring contract, and the Hornets will have early Bird rights on him this summer, tweets Bobby Marks of ESPN. Harrell is a North Carolina native, which may make him more likely to remain in Charlotte.

Smith, who played two seasons in Washington before going to Charlotte, has a $4.7MM non-guaranteed contract for next season. Carey will make $1.8MM next year and has a $1.9MM team option for 2023/24.

COVID-19 Updates: Doncic, SGA, Robinson, Hawks, Nuggets, More

Mavericks star Luka Doncic has cleared the league’s health and safety protocols, sources tell Marc Stein (Twitter link). Doncic, who hasn’t played since December 10, missed a combined 10 games due to a left ankle injury and his time in the protocols. He’s expected to meet his teammates in Oklahoma City and may return to the court on Sunday.

Tim Hardaway Jr. and Maxi Kleber may also be able to exit the protocols in time for Sunday’s game, tweets Tim MacMahon of ESPN. Dallas, which has five other players still in protocols, managed to go 5-5 without Doncic and is holding onto eighth place in the Western Conference.

Here are more updates on players entering and exiting the protocols:

Southeast Notes: Anthony, Yurtseven, Dedmon, Hornets

Magic guard Cole Anthony is an early-season candidate for Most Improved Player, Josh Cohen of NBA.com writes. Anthony is averaging 20.2 points and 6.0 assists per game on 43% shooting from the floor, up from last season’s averages of 12.9 points, 4.1 assists and 40% shooting.

“I think it is a reflection of his work ethic,” head coach Jamahl Mosley said. “It’s a reflection of his confidence, and it’s also the confidence that his teammates have in him to be willing to take those shots.

“But again, you also have a group of guys on the floor that are willing to take shots, That’s what we’ve created and it’s the equalness of each guy willing to want to step in to be able to make the big play, so whoever it is they’re willing to have their number called and step in and make a play.”

Anthony is averaging 34.4 minutes per game (compared to 27.1 MPG in 2020/21), but his shooting marks have also improved across the board. The Magic drafted the 21-year-old with the No. 15 pick in 2020.

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

Southeast Notes: Hornets’ Centers, Ball, Oladipo, Clifford

James Borrego isn’t satisfied with his options at center and he hasn’t been since he took over as Hornets coach three years ago, writes Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer. Cody Zeller, Bismack Biyombo, P.J. Washington and Vernon Carey have all seen time in middle this season, but none of them has been outstanding. Washington will probably be the starter for the rest of the season, Bonnell adds, but he’s a natural power forward at 6-7 and likely isn’t the long-term answer.

“Every night I’m just trying to figure it out with that group. It’s been like that for three years,” Borrego said after watching his team get outrebounded 54-33 in a loss to the Celtics this week. “It may be another three years that we continue to look like that, actually. … Just trying to piece it together.”

General manager Mitch Kupchak was interested in James Wiseman in last year’s draft, but the Warriors grabbed him with the second pick. Charlotte may not be in the lottery this year, but the club will have about $30MM in cap room when free agency begins. Bonnell suggests targeting Kings center Richaun Holmes or trying to trade for Pacers center Myles Turner.

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • With LaMelo Ball returning tonight from a fractured wrist, Nekias Duncan of Basketball News examines how the Hornets‘ dynamic rookie impacts the game through play-making, scoring and defense.
  • Heat guard Victor Oladipo may be getting closer to playing, even though he didn’t accompany the team on its weekend road trip, tweets Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. Oladipo hasn’t played since hurting his knee in an April 8 game, and the team hasn’t provided much information about a possible return. However, coach Erik Spoelstra said Oladipo is “making progress,” according to a tweet from the team. Tyler Herro, who continues to have issues with his injured foot, missed the road trip as well, notes Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald (via Twitter).
  • Magic head coach Steve Clifford continues to be sidelined after testing positive for COVID-19, but acting coach Tyrone Corbin said Clifford “feels great,” tweets Roy Parry of The Orlando Sentinel. Corbin said Clifford is still not showing any symptoms of the virus and his oxygen numbers remain good.

Southeast Notes: Vucevic, Iguodala, Heat, Hornets

Magic center Nikola Vucevic has given the team a feel-good story in the midst of an otherwise difficult campaign, Roy Parry of the Orlando Sentinel writes.

Vucevic, who was named an All-Star for the second time of his career this season, is averaging an impressive 24.6 points, 11.6 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game. He’s also shooting a career-high 41% from three-point range in his 36 contests.

“You get selected among 24 players out of 450 to make it and it’s a special feeling and a huge honor, something I’m very proud of,” Vucevic said. “It just shows that you’ve achieved a great level of respect from coaches around the league, other players around the league, and when you’re able to make it multiple times it kind of fortifies that.”

There’s more from the Southeast Division tonight:

  • Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald examines Andre Iguodala‘s veteran impact on the Heat. Iguodala, a former Finals MVP, is currently in his 18th NBA season. “He brings that stability on the floor and even off the floor,” teammate Goran Dragic said of Iguodala. “He has got a lot of experience. He has been in a lot of tough games. He won championships. So it’s always nice to have a guy next to you to ask for some advice. He’s like an open book. … Him, [Udonis Haslem], those two guys are tremendous for our team.”
  • Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel explores whether the Heat should trade for a star player now — even if it impacts the team’s long-term flexibility. Miami has expressed interest in several combo forwards ahead of the March 25 deadline, winning seven of its final 10 games before the All-Star break.
  • The Hornets have recalled centers Vernon Carey Jr. and Nick Richards from their G League affiliate in Greensboro, the team announced (Twitter link). The team also announced (via Twitter) that two-way players Grant Riller and Nate Darling were transferred from the NBAGL to Charlotte.

Hornets Sending McDaniels, Carey, Others To G League Bubble

The Hornets are sending several players from their 16-man roster to the Greensboro Swarm to participate in the NBA G League bubble, the team confirmed today.

According to a press release, second-year forward Jalen McDaniels has been assigned to the Swarm, along with rookies Vernon Carey Jr. and Nick Richards. Additionally, two-way players Grant Riller and Nate Darling have been transferred to the Hornets’ G League affiliate.

McDaniels, Carey, Richards, Riller, and Darling will join a Swarm roster that features Admiral Schofield, the No. 1 pick in this month’s NBAGL draft, and affiliate players Kahlil Whitney, Xavier Sneed, Keandre Cook, and Javin DeLaurier, among others.

Hornets president of basketball operations Mitch Kupchak told Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer earlier this week that Carey and Richards have looked somewhat “overwhelmed” during their first year in the NBA, and that the team welcomes the opportunity to get them regular playing time at the G League level — especially since the condensed NBA schedule has allowed for fewer practices than normal.

Since McDaniels and the two-way players have also been out of coach James Borrego‘s regular rotation in Charlotte, it makes sense that they’d also be sent to the G League bubble for developmental purposes, as Bonnell writes in a separate story.

While the Hornets will be able to recall any of those five players from the G League to rejoin the NBA roster at any time, those players are expected to spend some or all of the NBAGL season in the bubble, per Bonnell. Given all the protocols in place related to COVID-19, it won’t be as easy logistically for teams to constantly assign and recall players this season, so I imagine we’ll see less back-and-forth movement than usual between the two leagues.

Hornets Notes: Biyombo, Batum, Hayward, Offense

The Hornets used some of their available cap space to re-sign reserve center Bismack Biyombo to a one-year contract worth $3.5MM, and also gave first-year salaries of $1.5MM to center Vernon Carey Jr. and $1MM to forward Nick Richards, Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets. Marks goes on to note that the Hornets, who still have about $4MM in available cap space, will also be able to use their $4.8M room exception to add an additional player if they so choose.

There’s more out of Charlotte:

  • After forward Nicolas Batum signed a veteran’s minimum deal with the Clippers when the Hornets waived him, Charlotte stands to save $559,528 spread out over the three-year duration of his stretched contract, per ESPN’ s Bobby Marks (via Twitter).
  • The robust $120MM, four-year contract of new Hornets forward Gordon Hayward has a 15% trade kicker baked into it, Michael Scotto of HoopsHype tweets. This would make the end of his deal, already thought to be exorbitant for a player with his injury history and age, even more expensive if he’s moved.
  • Following a breakout scoring season with the Hornets in 2019/20, guard Devonte’ Graham is in favor of a more balanced offensive attack incorporating new additions Hayward and LaMelo Ball, even though that means Graham’s looks could decrease, Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer reports.

Hornets Notes: Hayward, Batum, Carey

Hornets head of basketball operations Mitch Kupchak had talked for the better part of the year about not planning to make a splash in free agency. So it came as a bit of a surprise when Charlotte completed the biggest unrestricted free agent contract of the 2020 offseason, signing Gordon Hayward to a four-year, $120MM contract.

Addressing that disconnect during his Tuesday session with reporters, Kupchak explained that he simply wasn’t expecting a player like Hayward to be available this fall.

“I did not think that we would be in a position to pursue a free agent of Gordon’s caliber,” Kupchak said, per Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer.

As for whether Hayward’s injury history made the Hornets nervous about making such a significant investment in the 30-year-old forward, Kupchak downplayed any concerns the team might have had, as Bonnell writes.

“He passed our physical with flying colors,” he said. “He’s a good age for an NBA player and keeps himself in great shape … There’s no reason to believe, knock on wood, that he won’t be healthy here the next four years.”

Here’s more on the Hornets:

  • Speaking today to reporters about his decision to join the Hornets, Hayward said the team’s interest in him back in 2014 was a factor in choosing Charlotte, writes Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today. He also sounded excited about taking on a bigger role than he had in Boston, as the leader of a young Hornets roster. “The think I like to do most is play-make and create for others,” he said. “Obviously in my career, I’ve done the scoring thing as well. I’m versatile. I can just help us try to impact our time with winning as much as possible. The pieces are there in place. Sometimes with a young team you just need to get over that initial hump to get to that next level. I’m excited about that opportunity and that challenge.”
  • Asked today about waiving and stretching Nicolas Batum and his $27MM+ expiring contract, Kupchak explained that it would have cost the Hornets multiple draft picks to dump Batum’s salary in a trade. The team may also have had to take back another (smaller) veteran contract in the deal, Kupchak added (Twitter link via Bonnell).
  • The four-year contract that No. 32 overall pick Vernon Carey Jr. signed with the Hornets will have a first-year salary of $1.35MM, followed by minimum salaries in years two through four, tweets Bobby Marks of ESPN. The final year will be a team option, but it sounds like the first three will be guaranteed.

Hornets Sign Vernon Carey Jr. To Four-Year Contract

9:02pm: The signing is official, according to a team press release.


10:35am: Rookie center Vernon Carey Jr., the No. 32 pick in this year’s draft, is signing a four-year contract with the Hornets, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Twitter link).

While the exact value of Carey’s deal isn’t yet known, Marks says it will likely have the most guaranteed money of any contract signed by a 2020 second-round pick this fall. Charlotte will use a small portion of its remaining cap room to complete the signing.

In his first and only college season at Duke, Carey averaged 17.8 PPG, 8.8 RPG, and 1.6 BPG in 31 games (24.9 MPG). He shot 57.7% from the field and even made 38.1% of his tries from beyond the arc, albeit on just 21 three-point attempts.

Carey is one of four players selected by the Hornets in this year’s draft. LaMelo Ball, the team’s lone first-rounder, will soon sign a rookie scale contract. I’d expect a standard contract for No. 42 pick Nick Richards and a two-way deal for No. 56 selection Grant Riller, but we’ll have to wait to see what Charlotte has in mind.

Draft Rumors: Hayes, Nesmith, Anthony, Okongwu, Hawks, More

In his latest mock draft in advance of tonight’s event, Jeremy Woo of SI.com shares several interesting tidbits, writing that Killian Hayes is “strongly in play” for the Pistons at No. 7 and suggesting there’s some concern about Aaron Nesmith‘s injured foot, which ended his season at Vanderbilt.

Woo also hears from sources that Cole Anthony has interviewed in recent days with multiple teams outside the top 20 and that the Celtics and Spurs would be among the teams with interest in Onyeka Okongwu if he slides out of the top 10 due to his foot injury.

Woo reports that there’s “significant traction” for Devin Vassell within the Knicks‘ front office, making him a viable option at No. 8 if the team stays put. Finally, Woo says the Celtics have shown interest in Duke big man Vernon Carey Jr., who could be an option at No. 26 or No. 30.

Here’s more on the 2020 NBA draft:

  • The Hawks are currently planning to keep and use the No. 6 pick tonight, a source tells Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report (Twitter link). That could change if Atlanta gets a surprise last-minute offer, Wasserman cautions, but for the time being, it sounds as if the team is comfortable staying put.
  • We still don’t know with any certainty which player the Timberwolves will select with the No. 1 pick tonight, but Georgia guard Anthony Edwards has emerged as the betting favorite at Las Vegas sportsbooks, writes David Purdum of ESPN.com.
  • While USC big man Onyeka Okongwu may not be ready for training camp due to a foot injury, it sounds like the issue shouldn’t impact his draft stock too significantly. One source who spoke to Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer (Twitter link) predicted that Okongwu will still likely come off the board before the Wizards pick at No. 9.