Free-agent point guard Jeremy Lin has agreed to terms with the Charlotte Hornets, an NBA source confirmed Wednesday evening.
Signing Lin would address two priorities for the Hornets: Improving their outside shooting and adding depth at the point guard position. General manager Rich Cho had said repeatedly that adding a third point guard was high on the team’s offseason to-do list.
Essentially Lin will replace Mo Williams on the roster and be a veteran behind starter Kemba Walker with 3-point range and pick-and-roll acumen. Brian Roberts likely would be the third point guard.
Lin has played five NBA seasons for the Golden State Warriors, New York Knicks, Houston Rockets and Los Angeles Lakers. Over that span he has averaged 11.8 points and 4.8 assists and shot 34.9 percent from 3-point range.
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Lin became a sensation during his “Linsanity” days playing for the Knicks, but since then he ended up a backup for the Rockets and mostly for the Lakers. He is very good at what he does best – pick-and-roll offense and long-range shooting – but his defense is shaky.
Lin’s contract terms were not immediately available. But based on his coming to terms with the Hornets before the NBA’s moratorium on contract-signings ended Thursday, it’s a fair assumption he got the full mid-level exception: A contract with a starting salary of about $5.5 million next season.
That’s the most the Hornets could pay any free agent, since they start the NBA’s new fiscal year above the salary cap, which is about $70 million for 2015-16.
The Hornets had limited options going into free agency, particularly after making pre-draft trades to acquire Nicolas Batum from Portland and Jeremy Lamb from Oklahoma City. Those deals added more than $5 million to the Hornets’ player payroll.
Initially the Hornets explored signing shooting guard Marco Belinelli, who came to terms with the Sacramento Kings, but Lin was high on the team’s wish list.
Signing Lin will bring the Hornets’ guaranteed contracts to 12 with an NBA-maximum roster of 15. That could still leave room to sign undrafted rookie Aaron Harrison, who has drawn praise from team officials during summer league in Orlando, Fla.
Lin adds to a Hornets trend this offseason of accepting defensive limitations to find more scoring options. The Hornets traded for Spencer Hawes and drafted Frank Kaminsky in recent weeks. Neither is considered a particularly strong defender. Meanwhile the Hornets chose not to make a qualifying offer to center Bismack Biyombo, a strong rim protector but a very limited scorer.
Bonnell: 704-358-5129; @rick_bonnell