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Hornets’ P.J. Hairston on potentially uncertified agent: ‘I’m going to talk to my family and figure some stuff out’

0628HORNETS_03
Jeff Siner - jsiner@charlotteobserver.com
Charlotte Hornets draft pick P.J. Hairston, left, looks down the table toward Noah Vonleh as they answered questions from the media during a press conference with Hornets general manager Rich Cho in late June.

LAS VEGAS Charlotte Hornets rookie P.J. Hairston said he was blindsided Friday morning by a Sporting News report that the agent he chose isn’t certified by the National Basketball Players Association.

Hairston said he’s still gathering information regarding Juan Morrow, the agent he hired before being chosen 26th overall last month.

“I didn’t know anything about this until this morning when I saw my Twitter account blowing up,” Hairston told the Observer following the Hornets’ shootaround. “I’m going to talk to my family and figure some stuff out.”

The story posted on the Sporting News’ website Thursday quoted players union official Robert Gadson as saying there is “no record of a Juan Morrow in the files, nor is there record of an applicant by that name.”

The Observer left a message on Morrow’s voice mail Friday morning, asking for comment on his status as an agent. That message was not returned as of mid-afternoon.

The Hornets are aware of the Sporting News story on Morrow’s status, but general manager Rich Cho declined comment.

Based on the rookie pay scale for first-round picks, Hairston is eligible for a two-season guarantee worth a total of about $2 million, plus two one-season team options.

The Hornets have not announced the signing of Hairston or fellow first-round pick Noah Vonleh. It’s not uncommon for rookies to play in summer league before signing their contracts. Teams have the option to buy short-term disability insurance to protect players.

The Sporting News quoted the collective bargaining agreement between the NBA and the players union as including serious consequences should a non-certified agent represent a player in contract negotiations. The team could be fined $50,000 for negotiating contract terms with a non-certified agent. That would apply whether the team did so knowingly or failed to make a “reasonable inquiry” as to whether the agent is certified.

Also, if an uncertified agent negotiates a player contract, that contract could be voided on that basis alone.

To be a certified as an agent, an applicant must go through a background check and then pay an annual fee to the NBPA.

Morrow’s agency is listed as Upside Media Group, based in Miami and Chicago. That business’s website – www.umgglobal.com – lists contract negotiations, marketing and endorsements and pre-draft training among its services. The website also lists Hairston as its only client.

Hairston told the Observer he considered multiple agents. Why Morrow?

“He just seemed to be the one I was most comfortable with. But now, with everything coming out, I don’t know what I’m going to do,” Hairston said.

“I don’t know what’s going on. I’m still blind to all the facts.”

Zeller in Vegas Sunday: Forward-center Cody Zeller missed the Hornets’ Las Vegas Summer League opener Friday against the Golden State Warriors for a very good reason:

His brother Tyler Zeller is getting married Saturday.

Older brother Tyler played college ball at North Carolina. Last season, he played for the Cleveland Cavaliers. He’s reportedly being traded to the Boston Celtics in a cap-clearing deal connected to LeBron James’ decision to sign with the Cavs.

Cody Zeller practiced with the Hornets in Charlotte Monday through Thursday before the team flew to Las Vegas late Thursday afternoon. He’ll catch up with the team for Sunday’s game against the Sacramento Kings.

Schedule/TV: The Hornets’ next two games in summer league are Sunday versus the Kings (6 p.m. Eastern) and Monday versus the New York Knicks (4 p.m.). Both those games will be televised live on NBATV.

The Warriors game Friday night is scheduled for tape-delay on NBATV at 9 a.m. Saturday.

The Hornets will play at least two additional summer league games, with dates, times and opponent determined by an elimination-tournament format.

Rick Bonnell: (704) 358-5129; @rick_bonnell
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