Charlotte Hornets

Hornets GM Rich Cho: P.J. Hairston’s inconsistency, focus a factor in not picking up contract option

Charlotte Hornets general manager Rich Cho has told P.J. Hairston, above, he needs to improve his consistency and focus on and off the court.
Charlotte Hornets general manager Rich Cho has told P.J. Hairston, above, he needs to improve his consistency and focus on and off the court. Getty Images

Charlotte Hornets general manager Rich Cho said the team’s decision not to pick up P.J. Hairston’s option for next season related to consistency and focus.

The Hornets had until midnight Monday to exercise a $1.25 million option for the 2016-17 season under Hairston’s rookie-scale contract. The team exercised a similar option for Cody Zeller Monday and signed Jeremy Lamb to a three-year, $21 million contract extension.

“I spoke with P.J. and his agent. We just feel like P.J. has got to get more consistent and focused on and off the court,” Cho said Tuesday.

“He knows what he has to do. P.J. has still got a bright future if he continues to work hard.”

The Hornets acquired the draft rights to Hairston in a trade with the Miami Heat in June 2014. He has since had some issues, including an altercation with a teenager at a Durham YMCA and two unexcused absences, resulting in his being inactive for the following games.

Hairston is starting for the Hornets, filling in for the injured Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (shoulder). Hairston will be an unrestricted free agent in July, but the Hornets could still re-sign him.

Lamb played just two games for the Hornets before signing his extension, but Cho expressed confidence that the front office knows what Lamb provides.

“He’s a guy we followed for a long time. He’s only been here a short time, but he’s played 150 NBA games,” Cho said. “We love his work ethic. A high-character guy who can shoot the ball well and is versatile.”

This is the third time in about a year the Hornets have signed players on rookie-scale contracts to extensions before they could reach restricted free agency. The others were Kidd-Gilchrist and point guard Kemba Walker. Cho said the coming spike in the salary cap, resulting from the NBA’s new national television contracts, was a factor in those decisions.

“With the salary cap going up a lot next summer and even higher the following summer, we felt like all those players would have opportunities to get more money on the open market possibly,” Cho said. “We liked them and were happy to lock them up.”

Zeller’s dehydration issue

Zeller participated in shootaround Tuesday morning after missing Monday’s practice with severe dehydration. Zeller had lost roughly 10 pounds in the past two weeks, and the Hornets sent him for a battery of medical tests.

“He feels fine and there is nothing serious. He was incredibly dehydrated,” coach Steve Clifford said. “He got an IV – a lot of (fluids) – and it made him feel a lot better. There’s no real serious (problem). He’s got to stay more hydrated. He likes to drink only water. A lot of time for these guys, they work out so much, they’ve got to get other things into their bodies.”

Zeller said he feels much better and joked perhaps he shouldn’t play so hard from now on.

“I guess I’ve just got to not play as hard – run up-and-down the court a lot slower,” Zeller said.

Bonnell: 704-358-5129; @rick_bonnell

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