Hornets Rumors

Hornets Sign Kobi Simmons To Camp Deal

SEPTEMBER 16: The Hornets have signed Simmons to their training camp roster, the club confirmed today in a press release.

Charlotte’s G League affiliate, the Greensboro Swarm, acquired Simmons’ NBAGL rights last week, so if the point guard doesn’t earn a regular season NBA roster spot, he’ll likely end up playing for the Swarm.

SEPTEMBER 3: The Hornets and free agent point guard Kobi Simmons have reached an agreement on a one-year contract, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Although Charania doesn’t go into detail on the terms of Simmons’ deal, he notes that the 22-year-old will get a chance to compete for a regular season roster spot in training camp, so it figures to be a non-guaranteed Exhibit 10 pact.

Simmons, who went undrafted out of Arizona in 2017, spent his first professional season on a two-way contract with the Grizzlies. He appeared in 32 NBA games for the club in his rookie year, averaging 6.1 PPG, 2.1 APG, and 1.6 RPG in 20.1 minutes per contest.

After being waived by Memphis last August, Simmons spent most of the 2018/19 season with the Canton Charge, Cleveland’s G League affiliate. He recorded 17.2 PPG, 3.5 APG, and 3.7 RPG in 35 NBAGL games, making one brief NBA appearance for the Cavaliers after signing a 10-day contract with the club in January.

Once they officially sign Simmons, the Hornets will have 20 players under contract. Only 13 of Charlotte’s players have guaranteed salaries for 2019/20, so there will be one or two roster spots up for grabs. Simmons figures to compete with fellow camp invitees Joe Chealey, Caleb Martin, Josh Perkins, and Thomas Welsh — Chealey and Perkins, both point guards, may represent his direct competition.

Examining Why Michael Jordan Chose To Sell Part Of Hornets

  • Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer examines why Michael Jordan decided to sell part of the Hornets franchise at this stage of his life. Charlotte is expected to be one of the NBA’s worst teams this season, having lost cornerstone piece Kemba Walker in free agency and failing to replace his talents in the short term.

Michael Jordan To Sell Part Of Hornets

Hornets owner Michael Jordan has reached an agreement to sell a portion of the franchise to two investors from New York, but he will retain control of the team, reports Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer.

The buyers are Gabe Plotkin, a founder of Melvin Captal, and Daniel Sundheim, a founder of DI Capital. They must receive league approval, but a source tells Bonnell that process is already under way and the sale is expected to be finalized in about two weeks.

The percentage that Plotkin and Sundheim will acquire and the price they will pay were not revealed. Jordan presently controls roughly 97% of the team. Another source indicates that he plans to run the organization for “a good, long time.”

“I’m excited to welcome Gabe and Dan as my partners,” Jordan said in a statement tweeted by Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated. “While I continue to run the Charlotte Hornets, make all decisions related to the team and organization, Gabe and Dan’s investment in the franchise is invaluable as we continue to modernize, add new technology and strive to compete with the best in the NBA.”

Despite being considered a small-market organization, the Hornets have appreciated greatly in value since Jordan bought them in 2010. The purchase price was about $180MM, and Forbes estimated in February that the franchise is currently valued at $1.3 billion.

A source tells Bonnell that Jordan wanted to find investors who could help guide the team with technological advances. The Hornets also have a few smaller investors who owned part of the team before Jordan purchased it.

Simmons' G League Rights Acquired

Hornets Rumors: Kemba, Vets, Future Plans, McDaniels

Hornets president of basketball operations Mitch Kupchak tells Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer that the team was somewhat blindsided by Kemba Walker earning All-NBA honors and becoming eligible for a super-max contract earlier this year. Although Walker wasn’t demanding the full super-max (approximately $221MM over five years), the gap between what he sought and what Charlotte was willing to offer was too significant to bridge the gap.

“We had great years with him, and we didn’t get into the playoffs,” Kupchak said of the All-Star point guard. “What makes us think that next year (would) be different? I’ve got to step back and look at where we’ve been and where we’re going. Chart out a course that gives us the best chance to build something that is sustainable for more than a year or two.”

The Hornets have faced criticism for not getting what they could for Walker in a pre-deadline trade in February, but Kupchak tells Bonnell that the club was confident in its chances of re-signing Kemba at that point and wasn’t impressed with the offers it received on the trade market.

“Almost every offer revolved around draft picks. It was always lottery-protected,” Kupchak said. “When you do something like that, you’re saying you’re going to draft a player in the teens, we don’t know how good he’s going to be, and it’s going to take three or four years (to realize value). We wanted to keep Kemba — under the right conditions.”

We don’t know the specifics on what the Hornets were offered for Walker, so we’ll take Kupchak at his word that those offers didn’t provide enough value to be worthwhile.

Still, it’s fair to take the front office to task for the assertion that it didn’t see Walker’s All-NBA nod and super-max eligibility coming. The former UConn standout scored 41 points on opening night last fall and played at an elite level all season, singlehandedly keeping Charlotte in the playoff hunt. To claim the team was blindsided by Kemba’s super-max eligibility is either disingenuous or signals a worrisome lack of foresight.

Here’s more from Bonnell on the Hornets:

  • Head coach James Borrego is under no obligation to give significant minutes to Nicolas Batum, Bismack Biyombo, Marvin Williams, Cody Zeller, and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who will earn a combined $85MM in 2019/20. “I’m not going to coach a team based on contracts, what you’re making, where you were drafted, if you were drafted,” Borrego said. “To me, that’s not my job. My job is to get the most out of them, whether they were drafted or not drafted.”
  • While those veterans will get a chance to compete for roles, Borrego wants to make sure the team’s young prospects play consistent minutes, either in Charlotte or in the G League. “We’re not going to have draft picks on our bench who are just sitting there,” the head coach told Bonnell. “If they’re not playing meaningful minutes for us in Charlotte, I promise you they will be playing minutes in Greensboro.”
  • The Hornets “didn’t even contemplate” using their mid-level exception this offseason, according to Kupchak, who explained to Bonnell that no one in that price range would have “changed the course of this organization.”
  • The Hornets also won’t rely on free agency going forward to reshape their roster, preferring instead to use any future cap flexibility to re-sign young players or to accommodate trades. “Free agent signings, for us, are not something we need to concentrate on going forward. We’re not going to get the ‘Big Fish,'” Kupchak said. “We have to create a culture where those kinds of players would want to come here. And, quite frankly, we’re not there yet. For us to hoard cap room (for that purpose) is not in the best interest of the organization.”
  • In a tweet, Bonnell adds a couple more Hornets-related items, reporting that there’s no indication the club is involved in ongoing trade talks that would jettison a veteran contract. Additionally, Charlotte would like to get unsigned second-rounder Jalen McDaniels locked up in a developmental role, per Bonnell. It sounds like the team’s preference may be for McDaniels to sign a G League contract.

NBA Teams With Full 20-Man Rosters

Training camps are still several weeks away from opening, but a number of NBA teams have already reached their 20-player offseason roster limits, either officially or unofficially.

Offseason rosters are fairly fluid. Teams will often sign a player to an Exhibit 10 contract to ensure he’ll receive a bonus if he spends time with their G League affiliate, then waive him days later. So the clubs with full 20-man rosters now won’t necessarily bring those specific 20 players to training camp. Still, it appears that at least a handful of teams may be done making roster moves until camps open.

With the help of our roster count tracker, here’s a breakdown:

Officially full 20-man rosters:

  • Cleveland Cavaliers
  • Indiana Pacers
  • Los Angeles Clippers
  • Los Angeles Lakers
  • Memphis Grizzlies
  • Milwaukee Bucks
  • Utah Jazz

While the Cavaliers are carrying 19 players on standard contracts and just one on a two-way deal, the six other teams listed here have an 18/2 split and probably won’t have their camp invitees compete for a two-way slot.

Still, a few roster decisions are likely in store for some teams on this list. The Grizzlies, for instance, are carrying 17 players with full or partial guarantees, and probably won’t still have Andre Iguodala on their roster by the time they set their 15-man regular season roster.

Unofficially full 20-man rosters:

  • Charlotte Hornets
  • Detroit Pistons
  • Minnesota Timberwolves

Each of these three teams technically has 19 players under contract, with one roster spot still open. However, Kobi Simmons is expected to fill that final spot for the Hornets, Michael Beasley will do so for the Pistons, and Tyus Battle will be the Timberwolves‘ 20th man.

Very unofficially full 20-man rosters:

  • New Orleans Pelicans
  • New York Knicks

The Pelicans have 18 players under contract, but various post-draft reports in June indicated that they’d sign Jalen Adams, Aubrey Dawkins, and Javon Bess at some point. It’s possible one or more of those reports was erroneous, or the agreements fell apart. For now though, we’re assuming some combination of those players will fill out New Orleans’ 20-man roster.

The Knicks are in a similar boat, with 16 players officially signed and five other contract agreements reported. Deals with Kris Wilkes, V.J. King, and Amir Hinton were reported in June, while July and August reports indicated that New York would also sign Kenny Wooten and Lamar Peters. We’re still waiting to see if the team finalizes all those signings.

Hornets Sign Ahmed Hill To Two-Way Contract

SEPTEMBER 5: The Hornets have officially signed Hill to a two-way deal, the team confirmed today in a press release.

SEPTEMBER 4: The Hornets are signing undrafted free agent Ahmed Hill to a two-way contract, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

A 6’5″ guard out of Virginia Tech, Hill posted 13.1 PPG on .443/.391/.812 shooting in 35 games in his senior year with the Hokies. After going undrafted, he joined the Nets’ Summer League roster and appeared in six games in Las Vegas, averaging 6.8 PPG on 44.8% shooting in 18.2 minutes per contest.

As our two-way contract tracker shows, Charlotte previously filled one of its two-way slots by signing rookie forward Robert Franks, so the team won’t have any openings after officially adding Hill.

That puts No. 52 overall pick Jalen McDaniels in an interesting spot. With 17 players on standard contracts and point guard Kobi Simmons expected to join that group shortly, the Hornets will have a full 20-man offseason roster.

It’s possible that Charlotte will eventually waive a player to make room for McDaniels, but the club’s agreement with Hill could signal that the former San Diego State forward will begin his professional career overseas or on a G League contract.

Hornets Issue Required Tender To Jalen McDaniels

The Hornets have issued a one year, non-guaranteed, minimum-salary contract offer (“required tender”) to 2019 second-round pick, rookie forward Jalen McDaniels, reports Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer.

Per Bobby Marks of ESPN, all unsigned 2019 second-round draft picks become free agents if not given a required tender by today, so the Hornets had to make a decision as to whether they wanted to retain McDaniels’ rights after drafting the San Diego State product No. 52 overall in the 2019 NBA Draft.

As we noted earlier today, the Hornets have already agreed to sign rookie guard Ahmed Hill to the team’s second two-way contract, and with the expected addition of point guard Kobi Simmons, Charlotte will have a full 20-man offseason roster without McDaniels. As such, the team may no longer be interested in bringing the rookie to training camp this season.

However, as Bonnell notes, two-way contracts can be a fluid situation, so if Charlotte wants to sign McDaniels to a two-way contract later (perhaps when his legal troubles are more thoroughly settled), the team could easily move on from Hill or fellow two-way recipient Robert Franks.

Southeast Notes: Washington, Butler, Beal, Heat

Hornets‘ rookie forward PJ Washington, the 12th overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, is ready for training camp after a nagging foot injury that kept him out of summer league, notes Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer.

“I’m pretty much cleared to do everything,” Washington said. “After summer league, it was about two weeks.”

As Bonnell notes, head coach James Borrego relayed back in July, the day before leaving for Las Vegas, that the Hornets were taking the precaution of shutting down Washington for summer league after pain in Washington’s left foot which caused him to miss two NCAA tournament games with Kentucky lingered upon his entry into the NBA.

Washington, who is expected to line up mostly at power forward this upcoming season, may see some time in the G League with both Marvin Williams and Miles Bridges already set to see a plethora of playing time at the four.

There’s more from the Southeast Division this evening:

  • Per Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel, it’s very important for new Heat superstar Jimmy Butler to come into training camp ready to be the team leader, a role he struggled with in his previous NBA stops.
  • According to Rachel Hopmayer of NBC Sports Washington, Wizards shooting guard Bradley Beal refused to sit out last season when playoff hope was lost because – as he told head coach Scott Brooks – he signed up to be the leader of the Wizards and do it every night.
  • Winderman adds in a separate piece that the Heat, because they are not in contention mode, should focus on developing players based on where their potential lies, not on current talent level.

NBA Teams With Open Two-Way Contract Slots

Only a small handful of two-way players from 2018/19 had their contracts carried over to the 2019/20 season. A couple more of last year’s two-way players have signed new two-way deals. For the most part though, NBA teams have filled their two-way contract slots for the coming season with new faces, including several rookies who went undrafted in 2019.

[RELATED: Hoops Rumors Glossary: Two-Way Contracts]

At the moment, 44 of 60 league-wide two-way contract slots are occupied. A 45th appears set to be filled if and when the Knicks finalize their reported agreement with Kris Wilkes. That leaves just 15 two-way deals available across the NBA as training camps approach.

Some clubs may not fill these slots before camps get underway, preferring to sign players to non-guaranteed NBA contracts and then convert those deals to two-way pacts later, depending on how players perform in camp and in the preseason. By the time the 2019/20 regular season begins though, I don’t expect many two-way slots to still be open.

With the help of our two-way contract tracker, which lists all the players currently on two-way deals, here are the teams who can still offer two-way contracts without waiving anyone:

Two open slots:

  • Houston Rockets
  • Miami Heat
  • Toronto Raptors

One open slot:

  • Brooklyn Nets
  • Charlotte Hornets
  • Chicago Bulls
  • Cleveland Cavaliers
  • Denver Nuggets
  • New York Knicks
    • Note: The Knicks only have a slot available if their reported deal with Wilkes isn’t finalized.
  • Oklahoma City Thunder
  • Phoenix Suns
  • Portland Trail Blazers
  • Washington Wizards