The Charlotte Hornets used top-10 picks in the past two drafts to select power forwards Cody Zeller and Noah Vonleh.
Does that mean the Hornets no longer need Josh McRoberts, who’ll be a free agent in July? Absolutely not, general manager Rich Cho and coach Steve Clifford said.
Clifford immediately contacted McRoberts and Zeller after the Hornets chose Vonleh ninth overall.
“When we drafted Noah, the first thing I did was clap, and then I texted (McRoberts and Zeller) that this doesn’t affect their status, their playing time,” Clifford said Friday. “Josh is the starter, coming off a great year. We need him back. I made sure he understood that.”
That leaves backup point for free-agency. Cho said that was always the plan: “When we looked at the free-agent class, point guard was one of the deepest spots, so we feel like we’ll get a good backup point guard in free-agency.”
The Hornets will trade the player they chose with the 45th overall pick, Stanford power forward Dwight Powell, to the Cleveland Cavaliers, along with center Brendan Haywood. They will get back Alonzo Gee, whose $3.2 million salary is not guaranteed for next season.
So once the Hornets cut Gee, they will have exchanged a second-round pick for eliminating the $2 million Haywood would have counted against their 2014-15 salary cap.
This trade can’t become official until after the salary-cap year changes in July, so neither team can publicly discuss details.
In other draft-night trades:
The Hornets sent the draft rights to Connecticut point guard Shabazz Napier (chosen 24th) to the Miami Heat in return for the 26th pick, the 55th pick and Miami’s second-round pick in 2019. Then they traded that 55th pick to the Oklahoma City Thunder for an undisclosed amount of cash.
NBA teams can start negotiating with free agents July 1. Players can’t start signing until July10.
According to Vonleh, when he stretches his fingers fully apart, the distance from thumb to pinky is 12 inches.