Cavaliers add Jamorko Pickett, Sharife Cooper, Nate Hinton and Mamadi Diakite to training camp

The Cleveland Cavaliers have signed forwards Mamadi Diakite and Jamorko Pickett as well as guards Nate Hinton and Sharife Cooper to their 2022 training camp roster, Cavaliers President of Basketball Operations Koby Altman announced today from Cleveland Clinic Courts.

Diakite (6-9, 224) played in 13 games (three starts) for Oklahoma City last season, averaging 4.3 points and 4.5 rebounds in 14.5 minutes. Diakite also won an NBA championship during the 2020-21 season with the Milwaukee Bucks. The third year forward went undrafted in 2020 after a four-year collegiate career at the University of Virginia (2016-2020), winning an NCAA National Championship in 2019.

Pickett (6-9, 206) played in 13 games for the Detroit Pistons last season, averaging 3.9 points and 2.5 rebounds in 13.5 minutes as well as 31 games (30 starts) for the Motor City Cruise in the NBA G League, averaging 14.9 points and 6.7 rebounds in 32.8 minutes. Pickett spent four years at Georgetown University (2017-2021) and recently played for the Cavaliers at the 2022 NBA Summer League in Las Vegas.

Hinton (6-5, 210) has appeared in 23 NBA games over two seasons with Dallas and Indiana. He also appeared in 33 games (32 starts) last season for the Fort Wayne Mad Ants in the NBA G League, averaging 18.1 points, 9.0 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 2.2 steals in 37.2 minutes and played two seasons collegiately at the University of Houston (2018-2020).

Cooper (6-1, 180) appeared in 13 games last season for the Atlanta Hawks and 22 regular season games (20 starts) for the College Park Skyhawks, NBA G League affiliate of the Hawks. With the Skyhawks, Cooper averaged 17.1 points and 7.3 assists in 30.7 minutes. Cooper played one season collegiately (2020-21) at Auburn University, averaging 20.2 points, 8.1 assists and 4.3 rebounds in 33.3 minutes, becoming one of two Division I freshman in the last 30 years (Trae Young) to average at least 20 points and eight assists per game.

Hornets unveil Statement Edition uniform for 2022-23 NBA season

The Charlotte Hornets today unveiled a new Statement Edition uniform to be worn starting with the 2022-23 NBA season.

Per the team:

The Statement Edition uniform remains purple but now features a “Hornets” wordmark on the chest in white with teal trim. The numbers on the front and back of the jersey follow the same design, while the player name on the back is white with no outline. The word “Charlotte” appears on the bottom left front above the jocktag. The side panels feature a teal cell pattern that continues onto the shorts in a design inspired by a stinger. The shorts include a “C-cell” logo on the waistband and the team’s secondary logo on each leg. Both the jersey and shorts have a tone-on-tone cell pattern at the openings for the neck, arms and legs. For the 2022-23 season, the jersey also includes the No. 6 patch that will be worn on the right shoulder of all NBA uniforms in memory of Bill Russell.

Like all Hornets uniforms, the right chest of the Statement Edition jersey features the Jumpman logo of NIKE, Inc.’s Jordan Brand and the left chest sports the logo of LendingTree, now in its sixth season as the team’s Official Jersey Patch Partner.

Hornets re-sign Cody Martin

Charlotte Hornets President of Basketball Operations & General Manager Mitch Kupchak announced yesterday that the team has re-signed forward Cody Martin.

Martin, who appeared in 71 games during the 2021-22 season, averaged 7.7 points, 4.0 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.2 steals per game, setting all new single-season career highs. In his third season out of Nevada, Martin connected on .482% of his field goal attempts and .384% from three-point range, which were both career highs. He ended last season ranked 26th in steals per contest among league leaders and was tied for 16th in the NBA in multi-steal games (28).

“Re-signing Cody was one of our offseason priorities, and we’re excited to have him return to the Hornets,” said Kupchak. “He is an exceptional defender, plays hard at both ends of the floor and has improved all aspects of his game since entering the NBA. Cody will continue to be a valuable member of our team as we move forward.”

Selected with the 36th pick in the 2019 NBA Draft by Charlotte, Martin has made 171 career appearances, accruing averages of 5.8 points, 3.5 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.0 steals in 21.2 minutes per outing.

Hornets sign rookie Bryce McGowens to two-way contract

The Charlotte Hornets have signed guard/forward Bryce McGowens to a two-way contract.

McGowens was drafted in the second round (40th pick overall) by the Minnesota Timberwolves in the 2022 NBA Draft, and traded to the Hornets.

A native of Pendleton, South Carolina, McGowens averaged 16.8 points and 5.2 rebounds in 33.3 minutes per game as a freshman at Nebraska in 2021-22, starting all 31 games in which he appeared. The 6-7 guard/forward earned All-Big Ten Third Team honors and was named Big Ten Newcomer of the Year by the media. McGowens led the Cornhuskers in scoring and ranked ninth in the Big Ten, while also ranking third in the conference in free-throw percentage (83.1%).

McGowens, who set Nebraska’s single-season freshman records for total points (522) and free throws made (162), ranked third nationally among freshmen in points per game and led all freshman nationally in free throws made. His average of 17.3 points in Big Ten play was the highest scoring average in conference games by a freshman since D’Angelo Russell in 2014-15. He scored 20 points or more in 11 games and became just the second freshman in program history with multiple 25-point performances, tallying six on the season.

Hornets sign rookie center Mark Williams

The Charlotte Hornets have signed center Mark Williams.

Selected with the 15th pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, Williams appeared in 39 games with averages of 11.2 points, 7.4 rebounds and 2.8 blocks in 23.5 minutes per game as a sophomore during the 2021-22 season at Duke. Williams was named the ACC Defensive Player of the Year and was a finalist for the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year after he led the ACC and ranked 12th in the nation in blocks per contest (2.8) and became just the second player in Duke history with 100 blocks (110) in a single season. He also ranked fourth in the ACC with eight double-doubles and sixth in the conference in rebounding, being named to the All-ACC Second Team by the media and Third Team by the coaches. His 72.1% field goal percentage was the second-best single-season percentage in school history, and he was the only player in the country to shoot better than 70.0% from both the field and the free-throw line.

In two seasons at Duke, Williams averaged 9.7 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.3 blocks in 20.4 minutes per game over 62 career games. He finished his career with 142 blocked shots, which places him seventh on Duke’s all-time blocks leaders list.

Hornets guard James Bouknight undergoes hand surgery

Charlotte Hornets guard James Bouknight underwent surgery yesterday to repair a tendon in his fifth digit on his right hand.

The surgery was performed by Dr. Brandon Valentine at Novant Health Charlotte Orthopedic Hospital in consultation with Hornets team physician Dr. Marcus Cook.

Bouknight made 31 appearances for the Hornets during the 2021-22 season, averaging 4.6 points and 1.7 rebounds in 9.8 minutes per game. He was selected 11th overall in the 2021 NBA Draft by Charlotte.

He will not play in 2022 NBA Summer League.

Charlotte Hornets exercise team option on forward Jalen McDaniels

Charlotte Hornets President of Basketball Operations and General Manager Mitch Kupchak announced today that the team has exercised its option on forward Jalen McDaniels for the upcoming 2022-23 season.

McDaniels appeared in 55 games during the 2021-22 season, accruing averages of 6.2 points and 3.1 rebounds in 16.3 minutes per game in his third season in the NBA. He shot .484% from the field and .380% from 3-point range, setting new single-season career-highs.

Selected with the 52nd pick in the 2019 NBA Draft by Charlotte, McDaniels has averaged 6.6 points and 3.4 rebounds per contest with the Hornets in 118 career games. He made 31 appearances with the team’s G League affiliate, the Greensboro Swarm, during his rookie season in 2019-20 and averaged 15.9 points, 7.8 rebounds and 1.9 steals in 32.0 minutes per game.

Steve Clifford once again named head coach of Charlotte Hornets

Charlotte Hornets President of Basketball Operations & General Manager Mitch Kupchak announced today the team has named Steve Clifford head coach. Clifford, who previously served the team’s head coach from 2013-2018, returns to Charlotte, where his 196 wins ranks second in franchise history, sitting just 11 behind Allan Bristow.

“We are pleased to welcome Steve back to our franchise,” said Kupchak. “We believe that his previous experience and coaching philosophy make him the best coach for our team. Steve has a proven track record of improving defenses and is detail oriented. He has a history of maximizing players’ talent and working with them to develop and expand their skill sets. Steve is committed to playing with the same offensive pace that our fans are accustomed to seeing the last few years. We are confident that he will be able to help our young players continue to grow as we look to take the next step as a team.”

Clifford has more than 20 years of NBA coaching experience and more than 35 years overall, including eight seasons as a head coach with the Hornets (2013-2018) and Orlando Magic (2018-2021). He spent the 2021-22 season as a consultant for the Brooklyn Nets and Head Coach Steve Nash. Clifford has a career record of 292-345 as a head coach, including a 196-214 mark in his previous five seasons in Charlotte. His teams have made the playoffs in four of his eight seasons and finished in the top 10 in both points allowed and defensive rating on five occasions.

“I’m happy to be returning to Charlotte, and I want to thank Michael Jordan, Mitch Kupchak and Buzz Peterson for this opportunity,” said Clifford. “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.”

In Clifford’s first season in Charlotte in 2013-14, the team went 43-39, a 22-win improvement over the previous season, and finished fourth in points allowed and fifth in defensive rating after ranking 29th and 30th, respectively, one season earlier. In 2015-16, he led the Hornets to a 48-34 record and the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference Playoffs, posting the franchise’s best record since 1999-2000.

Clifford also helped turn around the Hornets’ offense during his first run in Charlotte. After ranking in the NBA’s bottom 10 in both points per game and offensive rating in his first two seasons, the team improved to ninth in offensive rating and 11th in points per game in 2015-16. That season the Hornets were one of only four teams to finish in the top 12 in points per game, offensive rating, points per game allowed and defensive rating. The Hornets remained in the top half of the league in both offensive categories for each of Clifford’s final two seasons, increasing their scoring average by 14.0 points per game and their offensive rating by 9.3 from 2014-15 to 2017-18.

In his first season in Orlando in 2018-19, the Magic posted a 42-40 record, a 17-win improvement over the previous season, and ranked fifth in points allowed and eighth in defensive rating after ranking 21st and 18th, respectively, in 2017-18.

Prior to becoming an NBA head coach, Clifford spent 13 seasons as an assistant coach with the New York Knicks (2000-2003), Houston Rockets (2003-2007), Orlando Magic (2007-2012) and Los Angeles Lakers (2012-13). From 2003-2013, his teams made the playoffs in nine of 10 seasons, including five straight playoff appearances, three straight Southeast Division titles and a trip to the 2009 NBA Finals during his tenure with the Magic alongside Stan Van Gundy. Additionally, Clifford spent 15 years coaching at the collegiate level before joining the New York Knicks.

Kenny Atkinson will reportedly stay with Warriors rather than coach Hornets

Kenny Atkinson was reportedly close to becoming the next head coach of the Charlotte Hornets. Per ESPN.com, it’s not happening:

Kenny Atkinson has informed the Charlotte Hornets that he won’t become the franchise’s new coach and will remain with the Golden State Warriors as the top assistant, sources told ESPN on Saturday.

After accepting Charlotte’s job offer during the NBA Finals last week, further conversations with the Hornets’ organization led Atkinson to believe that both professionally and personally it would be best to remain with the Warriors, sources said.

Atkinson and the Hornets had agreed in principle to a four-year deal, but a contract was never signed, sources said.

Charlotte Hornets sign president and GM Mitch Kupchak to contract extension

Charlotte Hornets Chairman Michael Jordan announced today that the team has signed President of Basketball Operations & General Manager Mitch Kupchak to a multiyear contract extension. Per team policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“Mitch has done a great job leading our organization,” said Jordan. “He and his staff have assembled a talented, young team, and I’m excited about our future. I look forward to continuing to work with Mitch in the years ahead as our team continues to improve.”

Kupchak, who was hired by Charlotte on April 8, 2018, has been responsible for leading the organization’s day-to-day basketball operations for the last four seasons. During his tenure, Kupchak has overhauled the Hornets roster through significant personnel moves including drafting 2020-21 NBA Rookie of the Year LaMelo Ball, acquiring the rights to Miles Bridges in a draft-night trade and completing a sign-and-trade for Terry Rozier. Additionally, the Hornets have maximized the second round of the NBA Draft with selections such as Cody Martin and Jalen McDaniels. The Hornets currently have two first-round picks in next month’s NBA Draft (Nos. 13 and 15), as well as the 45th pick. Charlotte has improved its win total in each of the last three seasons.

Prior to joining the Hornets, Kupchak spent more than 30 years as a front office executive with the Los Angeles Lakers. After his NBA playing career with Washington and Los Angeles, Kupchak began working in the Lakers’ front office in 1986 under NBA Hall-of-Famers Jerry West and Bill Sharman. Kupchak was named general manager of the Lakers in 2000, serving in that role for 17 seasons in which Los Angeles won four NBA Championships and six Western Conference Championships, posting a 747-607 (.552) regular-season record and a 111-66 (.627) postseason record.

As a player and executive, Kupchak has been a part of 10 NBA Championship teams – three as a player (one in Washington and two in Los Angeles) and seven as a Lakers executive.

The 13th overall pick in the first round of the 1976 NBA Draft, Kupchak played nine NBA seasons in Washington and Los Angeles before a knee injury forced him to retire. He averaged 10.2 points and 5.4 rebounds per game in 510 regular-season contests. Kupchak earned NBA All-Rookie Team honors during the 1976-77 season and averaged a career-high 15.9 points (.512 field goal percentage) and 6.9 rebounds per game during Washington’s championship season in 1977-78. He was traded to Los Angeles in 1981, where he played a key role off the bench in the Lakers’ 1985 NBA Championship. Kupchak played collegiately at the University of North Carolina where he was an All-American standout. He is one of 53 players to have their jersey honored and raised to the rafters of the Dean Smith Center in Chapel Hill.