The Charlotte Hornets agreed to trade the No. 22 pick in Thursday’s NBA draft to the Sacramento Kings in return for veteran shooting guard Marco Belinelli, an informed source said.
The deal cannot be formally completed until next month, when the NBA’s new salary cap kicks in. But the two teams agreed that the Hornets would choose a player on the Kings’ behalf to facilitate this trade. That player was Syracuse shooting guard Malachi Richardson.
A 6-foot-5 shooting guard/small forward, Belinelli, 30, enters his 10th NBA season. He averaged 10.2 points last season but shot a career-worst 30.6 percent from 3-point range.
In brief comments after the end of the first round, Hornets general manager Rich Cho acknowledged the Hornets are in trade discussions and said he wasn’t at liberty to discuss specifics at this time.
Cho said the team explored some other trade possibilities, but that the price to do something else was too expensive to be justified.
Belinelli has two seasons and about $13 million left on the contract he signed with the Kings.
The acquisition of Belinelli could indicate the Hornets won’t try to re-sign shooting guard Courtney Lee, who the team acquired from the Memphis Grizzlies at the trade deadline. Lee might command an annual salary of $10 million or more per season this summer.
The Hornets hope to re-sign Nic Batum and start him at shooting guard alongside small forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Belinelli is more in line with the salary for a backup guard.
The Hornets also have Jeremy Lamb, who they extended with a three-year, $21 million contract last season. Lamb started out strong, after being acquired from the Oklahoma City Thunder, but was outside the rotation late last season.
This is not the first time the Hornets have expressed interest in Belinelli. He was on their list of free-agent targets last summer before he signed with the Kings.
Belinelli has also played for the Golden State Warriors, Toronto Raptors, New Orleans Hornets, Chicago Bulls and San Antonio Spurs.
He became the first player born in Italy to win an NBA championship when the Spurs beat the Miami Heat in 2014. That title run was Belinelli’s best season, when he averaged 11.4 points and shot 43 percent from 3-point range.
Belinelli won the NBA’s 3-point shooting contest at the 2014 All-Star Weekend in New Orleans, edging out Washington’s Bradley Beal.
Before coming to the NBA, Belinelli played six seasons for two professional teams in Bologna.
Bonnell: 704-358-5129: @rick_bonnell