Posts Tagged ‘Charlotte Hornets’

The Charlotte Hornets hired Steve Clifford to return for a second stint as their head coach, the club announced Friday.

The agreement is a three-year deal that will pay Clifford $4 million in each of the first two seasons, sources told Rod Boone of The Charlotte Observer. The contract also reportedly contains a team option.

“I’m happy to be returning to Charlotte, and I want to thank (franchise owner) Michael Jordan, (general manager) Mitch Kupchak and (assistant GM) Buzz Peterson for this opportunity,” Clifford said in a statement. “This is an exciting young team with a lot of talented pieces.

“Charlotte is a great city and I know first-hand the passion that Hornets fans have for this franchise. I can’t wait to get back to town and start working with our players.”

Charlotte’s decision to bring back Clifford comes days after Kenny Atkinson reportedly turned down an offer in order to remain an assistant with the Golden State Warriors.

Clifford was behind Charlotte’s bench from 2013-18, managing the team to a combined 196-214 record over five seasons. He led the club to the playoffs twice but failed to win a series; it was swept in their first appearance by the Miami Heat in 2014 before falling to Miami in seven games in 2016.

After being fired as head coach in April 2018, Clifford took over the Orlando Magic, where he went 96-131 in three seasons. Both sides agreed to part ways in June 2021.

Atkinson was never officially confirmed as Charlotte’s replacement for James Borrego but had apparently edged former Houston Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni in the race. Following Atkinson’s withdrawal, Jordan met with D’Antoni again Tuesday to discuss the opening, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Gordon Hayward is among the names the Charlotte Hornets are shopping with one of their two first-round picks in this year’s draft, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst reports.

The one-time All-Star is set to make a team-high $30.1 million next season, and the Hornets offloading the remaining two years on his contract would clear cap space to re-sign Miles Bridges, adds Windhorst.

Charlotte acquired Hayward two years ago in a sign-and-trade deal with the Boston Celtics. The Butler product has averaged 17.6 points, 5.2 boards, 3.8 assists, and 1.1 steals while shooting 40.2% from beyond the arc during his Hornets tenure. However, various injuries have limited him to just 93 appearances for the club.

Meanwhile, Bridges is coming off a breakout 2021-22 campaign. He registered career bests in points (20.2 per game), rebounds (7.0), and assists (3.8) en route to a seventh-place finish in last season’s Most Improved Player award voting.

Charlotte owns the 13th and 15th selections in Thursday’s draft.

Mitch Kupchak has signed a multiyear contract extension to remain the Charlotte Hornets’ general manager.

Kupchak’s contract was set to expire this summer.

“For better or for worse, I will be here for the next couple of years,” Kupchak said Thursday on a videoconference call. He would not say when the contract expires.

The 67-year-old Kupchak will continue to lead the team’s search for a coach.

He said the team already has interviewed “eight to 10 candidates” and could speak with a few more over the next week or so. He prefers to make a hire in the next two weeks and at the very latest before the June 23 NBA draft.

For one night, at least, the Atlanta Hawks looked like the team that made a stunning run to the Eastern Conference final last summer.

Trae Young bounced back from a sluggish start to score 24 points and De’Andre Hunter led a third-quarter surge Wednesday that carried the Hawks to a 132-103 rout of the Charlotte Hornets in a play-in game.

“We’re definitely confident right now,” Hunter said. “But we’ve got a lot more work to do. We’re not satisfied yet.”

The Hawks were a bit of a disappointment during the regular season, finishing ninth in the East after their surprising playoff success in 2021.

They’ve still got to win one more play-in game just to make the playoffs, heading to Cleveland to face the Cavaliers on Friday night. The winner claims the No. 8 seed in the East and will face the top-seeded Miami Heat in the opening round of the playoffs.

The season is over for the Hornets, who were overwhelmed in the 9-10 play-in game for the second year in a row and haven’t made the playoffs since 2016.

Still, coach James Borrego called it another step forward for a rebuilding team.

“A lot of good things have happened for this franchise based on where we’re at today compared to where we were two or three years ago,” he said.

Miles Bridges was ejected in the fourth quarter and could be facing additional punishment from the league office after he appeared to strike a young fan with his mouthpiece.

All five Atlanta starters scored in double figures, as did Bogdan Bogdanovic off the bench. It was Hunter who came up big in the decisive third period, bursting out with 16 points after being held to 3 in the first half.

“I think I’m a big part of this team,” Hunter said. ”Me being aggressive, scoring and defending, helps this team a lot.”

Hunter finished with 22 points, while Danilo Gallinari added 18 and Clint Capela 15. Kevin Huerter and Bogdanovic chipped in with 13 apiece.

The Hornets closed the regular season strong and felt like they had a good chance to win a couple of play-in games on the road. But those hopes came crashing down against their I-85 rival.

LaMelo Ball led Charlotte with 26 points on 7-of-25 shooting.

The Hawks led by 13 in the first half before settling for a 60-52 advantage at the break. Charlotte had a bit of momentum in the closing minutes of the half, but it sure didn’t carry over to the third.

The Hawks outscored the Hornets 42-24 during that 12-minute barrage, hitting 16 of 24 shots, and led 102-76 heading to the final period.

With the Hornets doubling at every opportunity, Young made only 1 of 9 shots in the opening quarter and 3 of 13 in the first half.

But his teammates found plenty of open looks and made the Hornets pay dearly.

“It’s great for my team,'” said Young, who had 11 assists. “If you can make two guys guard you, it only opens up the floor for everybody else. I have to embrace it.”

Charlotte should’ve known what kind of night it would be on their way to State Farm Arena.

The Hornets’ chartered bus was blocked by a freight train that stopped on a crossing near the downtown sports complex. The bus had to turn around and take a different route to the arena, delaying Charlotte’s arrival for pregame warmups.

It didn’t get much better once the game tipped off.

BRIDGES EJECTION

The Hornets’ frustration boiled over with about 6 1/2 minutes to go when Bridges complained so vehemently about a goaltending call that he picked up two quick technicals and was ejected.

Then, with a Hawks fan yapping at him on the way to the locker room, the Hornets player wildly threw his mouthpiece and appeared to strike a female who was simply watching the scene.

Bridges went on Twitter shortly after the game looking to make amends.

“Somebody get me in contact with the young lady,” he said. “That’s unacceptable.”

Bridges said he’ll accept whatever punishment he gets from the league.

“I was upset about a call, a couple of calls really,” he said. “I let my temper get the best of me. It was definitely the wrong thing to do.”

TOURNAMENT FEEL

The Hawks were in a play-in game for the first time, but Hunter knows something about the one-and-done feel of the format.

During his college career at Virginia, he helped lead the Cavaliers to the national championship in 2019.

“It’s like the NCAA Tournament,” Hunter said. “I’m not sure how feel about it. We won, so I guess I like it. But I’m not sure. It’s tough.”

TIP INS

Hornets: Terry Rozier had 21 points. …. As a team, Charlotte shot 37.8% (37 of 90) from the field.

Hawks: F John Collins (sprained foot, sprained finger) has stepped up workouts but still wasn’t able to play. His hasn’t been in a game since March 11. … G Lou Williams also was inactive with lower back discomfort. … Capela had 17 rebounds, leading the Hawks to a 54-41 edge on the boards.

UP NEXT

The Hawks went 3-1 against the Cavaliers during the regular season, splitting the two games in Cleveland.

Jayson Tatum scored a season-high 41 points, Jaylen Brown added 30, including an emphatic dunk in overtime, and the Boston Celtics beat Charlotte 140-129 on Monday night, handing the Hornets their first loss of the season.

Dennis Schroder had nine of his 23 points in overtime, and Robert Williams added 12 points and 16 rebounds in a game that featured 28 lead changes.

Miles Bridges had 25 points and 10 rebounds and LaMelo Ball added 25 points on seven 3-pointers for the Hornets before fouling out in overtime. Kelly Oubre added 19 points for Charlotte (3-1), which was seeking its first 4-0 start in franchise history.

Both teams had a chance to win the game at the end of regulation but had difficulty inbounding the ball, resulting in neither team getting a shot off in the game’s final 15 seconds.

Charlotte fell behind by four in overtime, but Ball canned a long 3 to give the Hornets with 3:25 left and then knocked down two free throws to push the lead to 3.

But it was all Celtics from there.

Schroder and Brown made back-to-back 3s and Brown emphatically dunked over Bridges after receiving a pass on a fast break from Tatum. Schroder was 4 of 4 from the foul line down the stretch to help seal the game.

Ball was impressive all night.

With the game tied at 75, he got Marcus Smart off balanced with a drive to the top of the key and stepped back to drain a 3, saluting as it went through the net. A few seconds later Ball corralled a defensive rebound and released a full-court baseball pass to Gordon Hayward for a layup.

The Celtics erased a 12-point fourth quarter lead as Brown started to heat up.

Boston would battle back to cut the lead to one with 2:03 remaining as Tatum drove the lane and Mason Plumlee was called for goaltending. Boston intentionally fouled Plumlee at the other end of the floor and he missed both free throws badly. Boston took the lead on a dunk by Williams with 1:47 left.

But Ball would answer with a 26-footer at the other end to give the Hornets back the lead. Tatum tied with two free throws with 1:11 left, setting up a frantic, although scoreless final minute of regulation.

TIP-INS

Celtics: Attempted 50 3-pointers, making 19. … Boston’s Al Horford sat out with a left adductor strain. … Jabari Parker had 13 points.

Hornets: Charlotte played without Terry Rozier for the third time in four games because of a sprained ankle and forward P.J. Washington (knee) was also out. Coach James Borrego said before the game he does not know the extent of Washington’s injury, but added that he hopes it is nothing major.

UP NEXT

Celtics: Host Washington on Wednesday night.

Hornets: Visit Orlando on Wednesday night.

The Charlotte Hornets and leading scorer Terry Rozier have finalized a four-year, $97-million max contract extension, Rozier’s agent told The Athletic’s Shams Charania.

Rozier is coming off a productive season that saw him average career highs in points (20.4) and assists (4.2) in 69 games – all starts – for the Hornets.

The 27-year-old’s 45% shooting from the field and 34.5 minutes per game were also the highest marks of his six-year professional career, and he ranked fifth in the NBA in 3-pointers made (222).

Rozier, a Louisville product, was a dependable backcourt fixture for the Hornets amid a season of injuries and absences for head coach James Borrego’s young squad.

Charlotte finished 10th in the Eastern Conference before suffering a 144-117 loss to the Indiana Pacers in the play-in tournament.

Despite missing over a month of games late in the year, Charlotte Hornets point guard LaMelo Ball was voted the 2020-21 Rookie of the Year, edging out the Minnesota Timberwolves‘ Anthony Edwards and Sacramento Kings Tyrese Haliburton, the league announced Wednesday.

Ball, the No. 3 pick in last year’s draft, is the third player in franchise history to capture the award; Emeka Okafor won as a member of the then-Charlotte Bobcats in 2004-05 while Larry Johnson won with the original iteration of the Hornets in 1991-92.

In 51 appearances, the American-born product led all rookies in assists (6.1) and steals (1.6) per game while ranking second in points (15.7) and rebounds (5.9).

Partly thanks to Ball’s addition to the lineup, the Hornets’ win percentage improved from .354 in the pandemic-shortened 2019-20 season to .458 this year. The team was just one game under .500 when a wrist injury knocked Ball out of the lineup from March 20 to May 1.

His challengers for top rookie honors played to a high standard as well. Appearing in 72 games, Edwards led all rookies with 19.3 points per game – albeit often on inefficient shooting splits – and frequently set social media ablaze with his rim-rocking dunks.

Haliburton, already returning immense value against his status as just the No. 12 pick, averaged 13 points and 5.3 assists while shooting 40.9% on threes, cementing his place as part of the Kings’ core.

The Indiana Pacers‘ bid for a playoff berth continues after the team eliminated the Charlotte Hornets with a 144-117 win in the first game of the Eastern Conference’s inaugural play-in tournament.

The ninth-seeded Pacers will face the No. 8 Washington Wizards for the East’s eighth and final postseason berth Thursday.

Despite missing several key members of the rotation – starting center Myles Turner and wing Caris LeVert chief among them – eight Pacers players scored in double digits; Oshae Brissett, who only joined the team in April after initially signing a pair of 10-day contracts, led the way with 23 points.

Malcolm Brogdon added 16 points and eight assists, while Domantas Sabonis finished with 14 points, 21 rebounds, and nine assists. Both Pacers mainstays had been listed as questionable until just under an hour before tipoff.

Indiana shot 55.2% from the floor, including 45.7% on 3-pointers. The Pacers also dominated the glass, outrebounding Charlotte 54-36.

Miles Bridges led the Hornets with 23 points. Star rookie LaMelo Ball tallied 14 points and four assists in 27 minutes of action in his first taste of an elimination scenario.

Hornets head coach James Borrego expressed appreciation for his team while preaching the need to continuing building toward success.

“I love this group, but we have a ways to go,” Borrego said postgame, according to The Associated Press’ Steve Reed. “We have to get better. It’s how we respond this summer – do we feel sorry for ourselves, or do we get better?”

It took right up until the final day of the regular season, but the Eastern Conference’s inaugural play-in tournament field is set.

The No. 7 Boston Celtics will host the No. 8 Washington Wizards for the East’s seventh playoff seed.

Meanwhile, the No. 9 Indiana Pacers will host the No. 10 Charlotte Hornets. The winner of that matchup will travel to take on the loser of Celtics-Wizards for the eighth and final playoff berth.

Here’s the broadcast schedule for the three-game gauntlet:

Charlotte Hornets forward Gordon Hayward has been diagnosed with a right foot sprain, the team announced Saturday.

He’ll be re-evaluated in approximately four weeks.

Hayward suffered the injury during Friday’s win over the Indiana Pacers.

After arriving in Charlotte as part of a sign-and-trade with the Boston Celtics this past offseason, the 31-year-old has helped the fourth-seeded Hornets compile a 25-23 record.

Hayward’s injury is the latest blow to a Charlotte team that is without star rookie LaMelo Ball. The third overall pick in the 2020 draft is expected to miss the remainder of the campaign with a fractured wrist.

Hayward is averaging 19.6 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 4.1 assists while shooting 41.4% from distance in 44 starts. He’s in the first season of a four-year, $120-million contract.