The Charlotte Hornets appear to be looking hard at adding at least one big man with either the 24th or 45th pick in Thursday’s NBA draft.
Two possibilities: Michigan center Mitch McGary and Louisiana State power forward Johnny O’Bryant.
ESPN draft insider Chad Ford connected the Hornets to McGary on Twitter on Tuesday, tying McGary not conducting workouts to the Hornets’ interest.
General manager Rich Cho makes it policy not to discuss players heading into a draft. The Hornets have said since the end of last season their areas of need are shooting, a backup point guard and frontcourt depth.
McGary, a 6-foot-10, 266-pound sophomore, is projected in various mock drafts as going anywhere from the end of the first round to midway through the second.
He had a rough final college season. He injured his back during August (he believes while weightlifting) and played only eight games before season-ending back surgery. He averaged 9.5 points and 8.3 rebounds, shooting 55 percent from the field.
Then he failed a drug test for marijuana that potentially entailed a season-long suspension for 2014-15.
When appeals failed, McGary felt his best option was entering the draft. However his injury kept him out of the pre-draft combine last month in Chicago. McGary said he planned some workouts just before the draft, but none have occurred.
He expressed remorse for the failed drug test during an interview with the Detroit Free Press.
“I don’t regret much in life. I (would) like to take back failing the drug test,” McGary told the Free Press. “(But) I handled it the most mature way.
“That was the most stress I’ve ever had in my life, going through back surgery and that ordeal, and kind of rising above it.”
McGary made a splash in Michigan’s 2013 NCAA tournament run, averaging 17.5 points and 11.3 rebounds. He has good hands and some touch around the basket, so he could do some of the things as a backup that Hornets low-post scorer Al Jefferson does as this team’s star.
O’Bryant probably wouldn’t be in the Hornets’ plans before the 45th pick. A 6-8, 257-pound junior, he averaged 15.4 points and 7.7 rebounds and shot 50 percent from the field last season.
The Hornets possibly could need another power forward after starter Josh McRoberts chose to void the last season on his contract and become an unrestricted free agent. The Hornets want to re-sign McRoberts.
Rick Bonnell: 704-358-5129; Twitter: @rick_Bonnell
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