|Charlotte Hornets clear cap space, add assets with trade, signing|
|Howard deal opens door for Parker acquisition|
|Published Saturday, July 7, 2018 12:17 am|
|PHOTO | THE ASSOCIATED PRESS|
|The Hornets signed guard Tony Parker Friday by using cap space created with the trade of center Dwight Howard to Brooklyn.|
Goodbye, Dwight Howard. Hello Timofey Mozgov and Tony Parker.
The Charlotte Hornets were busy on Friday, finalizing a trade that sent eight-time All-Star center Howard to Brooklyn in return for Mozgov and a pair of second-round draft picks. The result is immediate salary cap relief for the 2018-19 season and $8 million for a mid-level exception to sign a veteran. Part of that money is going to Parker, 36, who signed a two-year, $10 million deal.
Moving Howard became a necessity when General Manager Mitch Kupchak and head coach James Borrego decided Howard would be a poor fit with the Hornets’ focus on an up-tempo attack. They ultimately concluded benching Howard, who averaged 16.6 points and 12.5 rebounds in 30.4 minutes per game in one season as a Hornet, wasn’t feasible.
“Once it was determined that, and this was overall several weeks talking to our coaching staff, that Dwight’s style of play didn’t fit with the direction we were going and in fact we thought it would result in a significant decrease in his playing time,” Kupchak said Friday during a conference call with Charlotte media. “At that point, we reviewed all of the options.”
Mozgov, a 7-1 center with career averages of 6.8 points, 4.9 rebounds and 18.0 minutes per game, won a championship with Cleveland in 2015-16. In his single season with the Nets in 2017-18, Mozgov played sparingly with 31 games (13 starts) while averaging 4.2 points and 3.2 rebounds a game. Kupchak, who signed the eight-year veteran while he was the Lakers’ GM, said Mozgov’s role in Charlotte is yet to be defined.
“That remains to be seen,” Kupchak said. “He’s an established veteran in this league. He played significant minutes for a bunch of years and there’s been a couple years where he hasn’t played as much as I’m sure he thought he would. His role is going to be determined during training camp. … One thing I know about our coach is that anything that’s out there needs to be earned in terms of minutes.”
Parker, who has four championship rings from 17 seasons in San Antonio where Borrego was an assistant coach, was relegated to the bench last season. Parker averaged career-lows with 7.7 points, 3.5 assists and 19.5 minutes and coming off a quadriceps injury suffered in the postseason. He’ll back up Kemba Walker and mentor rookie Devonte Graham as the Hornets try to compete immediately for the playoffs and work toward the future.
Kupchak hinted during the conference call that adding another guard was a possibility. Adding Parker was the result.
“I think we do need help in the backcourt,” Kupchak said. “I’m hopeful that we’ll figure something out this week. In this environment there could be an announcement today, Wednesday or Friday. It’s a pretty active marketplace. There are things coming off the board every day and there are still things on the board.”
Despite missing the playoffs the last two seasons with consecutive 36-46 records, Kupchak is convinced refurbishment beats an overhaul.
“With the present makeup of the roster, it would be tough to change courses in a short period of time,” he said. “We have a lot of veterans that have earned security. To do a complete 180 at this point is not really realistic. On top of that the players are good players.”
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