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In My Opinion


NBA free agency: Charlotte Hornets ‘due for some luck’

Tom Sorensen
Tom Sorensen has been a columnist at The Observer for about three decades, writing about nearly every sport in the Carolinas.
    David J. Phillip - AP
    Houston Rockets' Chandler Parsons (25) reacts after making a three-point basket against the Portland Trail Blazers.
    Rick Bowmer - AP
    Utah Jazz's Gordon Hayward (20) drives to the basket as Minnesota Timberwolves' Ricky Rubio, of Spain, looks on.
    Rick Bowmer - AP
    Utah Jazz's Gordon Hayward speaks to reporters on the day the Jazz cleaned out their lockers after a disappointing 25-57 season in Salt Lake City.
    David Zalubowski - AP
    Houston Rockets forward Chandler Parsons looks on against the Denver Nuggets.
    David J. Phillip - AP
    Houston Rockets' Chandler Parsons (25) goes up for a shot as Portland Trail Blazers' Nicolas Batum defends.

When Charlotte changed its name, it changed its luck.

In the past, the final score always was: Lottery 1, Charlotte 0. Perhaps 2014 is payback.

“We were due for some luck,” says general manager Rich Cho.

Noah Vonleh probably should have been gone before the NBA draft’s ninth pick and P.J. Hairston certainly should have been gone before the 24th (which became the 26th). Yet Charlotte landed both.

How did Cho know Hairston would be available at 24? He didn’t. But he did expect to select a shooter the Hornets desperately need.

On Tuesday, free agency begins. Charlotte needs two backup point guards, and free agency is full of them. They can obtain two reserves without spending big.

They will have to spend big, however, to sign a star. Aside from LeBron James, the best of them is Houston’s Chandler Parsons, a restricted free agent.

Parsons is 25, which on the Hornets would make him a grizzled veteran. He’s 6-foot-9, and last season he evolved. He averaged 16.6 points, 5.5 rebounds and 4 assists. He shot 47.2 percent from the field and 37 percent behind the three point line. He’s fearless, and with his touch, he should be.

Stick him at small forward and the Hornets contend.

This isn’t a dig at Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. I watched MKG on the practice court at Time Warner Cable Arena last week. His three-part jump shot is now two parts. Thank you, assistant coach Mark Price. As MKG warmed up, he hit six straight from the baseline, missed one and hit nine more. Love his defense and tenacity, and if he learns to shoot…

Houston can match whatever the Hornets or other suitors offer for Parsons. But the Rockets are attempting to clear space for LeBron James or Carmelo Anthony.

If I’m Cho, I also court Gordon Hayward of Utah. Like Parsons, he’s a restricted free agent.

Hayward, 24, averaged 16.2 points, 5.1 rebounds and 5.2 assists last season. He is, in essence, a 6-8 guard. Like Parsons, he’s selfless, which makes him a good teammate.

Hayward’s shooting percentage, however, has declined in each of his four seasons. He shot 41.3 percent from the field in 2013-14 and 30.4 percent (also a career low) on three-point attempts. He’s a talent who has never worked with Mark Price.

Washington forward Trevor Ariza is tempting. He’s athletic, plays defense and last season he hit 45.6 percent of his field goal attempts. The previous four seasons, however, he failed to shoot better than 41.7 percent from the field. What if he forgets how to shoot again?

Carmelo doesn’t interest me. LeBron does.

I wrote last week that Michael Jordan should pursue LeBron, and numerous readers ripped me for, their words, misleading gullible fans. Their theme was always the same: Know your role, Charlotte.

Of course LeBron is likely to return to Miami. But why wouldn’t Charlotte at least make a call? Your role is what you say it is.

As the draft attests, good things happen to teams with good names.

Sorensen: 704-358-5119;; Twitter: @tomsorensen

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