Another day, another Tar Heel-turned-Hornet.
Tuesday, the Charlotte Hornets came to terms on a two-way contract with former North Carolina guard Marcus Paige. Wednesday, the team announced they have signed former North Carolina forward Isaiah Hicks.
Hicks averaged 11.8 points and 5.5 rebounds as a senior, playing on North Carolina’s 2017 national championship team. Hicks wasn’t selected in June’s NBA draft. He played for the Los Angeles Clippers’ summer-league team.
In addition to Hicks, a 6-9 forward, the Hornets signed T.J. Williams, a 6-3 guard who played college ball at Northeastern. Williams averaged 21.3 points, 5.3 assists and 4.7 rebounds last season, and was named Colonial Athletic Association Player of the Year.
The signings this week of Paige, Hicks, Williams and Louisville center Mangok Mathiang bring the Hornets’ roster to 17, right about the most players coach Steve Clifford prefers to bring to training camp.
Hicks and Williams are both probably long shots to make the Hornets’ regular-season roster. Failing that, they could end up on the Hornets’ G-League affiliate, the Greensboro Swarm.
Add another guarantee to the Hornets’ 2017-18 payroll. Center-forward Johnny O’Bryant’s deal – he’s scheduled to make about $1.5 million – is now locked in, according to an informed source.
While the 6-9 O’Bryant played only four games for the Hornets late last season (he averaged 4.5 points and two rebounds in 8 ½ minutes), Clifford saw potential in his performance. O’Bryant started at center for the Hornets’ summer-league team in Orlando, Fla.
O’Bryant has played in 111 NBA games, including 19 starts, over three seasons with the Milwaukee Bucks, Denver Nuggets and Hornets.
The contracts Paige and Mathiang signed – called two-way contracts – are new to the NBA, and intended for young developmental players.
Paige and Mathiang will play mostly for the Swarm next season. Their contracts don’t count against the 15-man maximum for each team’s regular-season roster. However, unlike most players who will be on the Swarm’s roster next season, the Hornets control their rights. Another NBA team can’t sign either one as an injury replacement.
While Paige, at 6-1, would be a point guard at the NBA level, his signing was not intended to fill the Hornets’ stated need for a third point guard, an informed source said. Rather, the Hornets still plan to sign a veteran point guard to play behind starter Kemba Walker and backup Michael Carter-Williams.
Bonnell: 704-358-5129; Twitter: @rick_bonnell