Charlotte Hornets

Miami Heat’s Josh McRoberts is the Hornet that got away

Josh McRoberts said Wednesday that he never pictured being anywhere but back in Charlotte this NBA season.

Instead, power forward McRoberts is playing for the Miami Heat. He signed a four-year contract worth a little over $22 million in July.

McRoberts said Wednesday that he both “wanted” and “intended” to be back in Charlotte when he opted out of the last season on his contract to become an unrestricted free agent.

McRoberts was a big part of the then-Bobcats’ run to the playoffs last season. Team owner Michael Jordan called McRoberts the “connector” who kept the Bobcats organized on the court. Coach Steve Clifford publicly emphasized the importance of bringing McRoberts back.

Then what happened? According to McRoberts, the Heat recruited him more aggressively when free-agency began July 1. Jordan personally made a pitch to McRoberts to stay, but that was deep into the process of him signing with the Heat.

McRoberts got what the NBA calls the “mid-level exception,” which this season starts at $5.3 million. The Hornets say they offered McRoberts comparable money to what he signed for in Miami.

However, two knowledgeable sources say the Hornets didn’t make him a mid-level offer until the Heat did. Asked if he felt wanted by the Hornets, McRoberts said he felt that from some – Clifford certainly – but not universally.

Right now he’s not playing much. He had toe surgery last spring and is just now getting into Miami’s rotation.

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said pre-game that McRoberts probably wouldn’t play more than 10 minutes per night until the Heat has sufficient practice days to acclimate him to the system.