Willy Hernangomez wants to stay in Charlotte

Hernangómez will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason and while he has returned to Spain for now, he plans to be back in Charlotte “as much as [he] can, working out with the coaching staff and teammates,” later on this summer. “This is going to be my first time being a free agent. I’m going to try and enjoy the experience and be patient. I’ve said many times that I love Charlotte. I love the group of guys that we have, the coaching staff. I’m trying to be a part of the future and the young core that we have. I feel at home in Charlotte, and I would love to stay. It’s going to be a long summer, but I would definitely love to stay, for sure.”
The NBA is closing in on signing off on a second “bubble” in Chicago for the eight teams that were not invited to play in Florida, enabling them to participate in a mini-training camp and subsequent games against other clubs with a target date of September, sources told ESPN on Thursday. The details are still being hammered out, and teams continue to push for an alternative plan that would enable them to hold mini-camps within their local markets and to explore the idea of establishing regional sites where teams could scrimmage against each other.
Storyline: Chicago Bubble
Once the Orlando operation is up and running, the league and the NBPA will decide what to do about the eight teams that aren’t taking part (Charlotte, Chicago, New York, Detroit, Atlanta, Minnesota, Cleveland, Golden State). All those players face the prospect of going nearly six months without facing NBA opponents, and sources say there is significant support from most of those teams for the possibility of a secondary campus site where they would train, compete and even play televised games in much the same way they plan to in Orlando.
Louisville is the NBA’s perpetual bridesmaid. The decades-long dance between the basketball-crazed city and the world’s preeminent basketball league began in the mid-1970s. The ABA’s Kentucky Colonels, one of the league’s most decorated and financially successful franchises, were poised to make the jump into the NBA when the two leagues merged, but owner John Y. Brown decided to cash out by selling star players to other franchises and accepting a $3 million buyout to fold his team. Decades later, Louisville had the then-Vancouver Grizzlies in hand in 2001. “We fumbled on the one-yard line,” Steve Higdon, chairman of NBA2LOU, tells CBS Sports. A combination of local politics and the inability to raise funds for a new arena killed the deal, and the Grizzlies landed in Memphis. A year later, Rick Pitino and the University of Louisville exerted their own influence to keep the then-Charlotte Hornets out of Kentucky. Toss in a failed bid at the Houston Rockets, and the home of the 1975 ABA champions had grown sick of losing out on professional basketball.
Louisville had the then-Vancouver Grizzlies in hand in 2001. “We fumbled on the one-yard line,” Steve Higdon, chairman of NBA2LOU, tells CBS Sports. A combination of local politics and the inability to raise funds for a new arena killed the deal, and the Grizzlies landed in Memphis. A year later, Rick Pitino and the University of Louisville exerted their own influence to keep the then-Charlotte Hornets out of Kentucky. Toss in a failed bid at the Houston Rockets, and the home of the 1975 ABA champions had grown sick of losing out on professional basketball.
So long as there is more money to be made in another market, though, rumors will persist. In addition to the Grizzlies, the Charlotte Hornets, Detroit Pistons, Minnesota Timberwolves, New Orleans Pelicans, Phoenix Suns and San Antonio Spurs have all been subject to recent relocation speculation. “There might be some teams looking at moving,” Dan Issel said. “All I know is that the people that I’ve talked to who have had knowledge of those situations have promised me that I’ll get a call when it’s appropriate.”
Storyline: NBA Expansion
“P,” as his teammates called him, wore the uniform of the Charlotte Hornets ahead of the lockout-shortened 1999 season, before giving his NBA dream another try the following fall for the Toronto Raptors in the 1999-2000 preseason. P’s time on the cusp of the NBA may have been brief, but it was a memorable, unique spectacle, and still resonates with the teammates, coaches and others who were around him during his playing days. (Multiple messages to representatives of P for comment went unreturned.)
Eldridge Recasner (Hornets guard): One day I get up to go downstairs for breakfast and I’m just seeing all these people that I knew from New Orleans, all these guys that I played high school basketball with. Cass Clarke was one guy who played at the University of New Orleans. Kurt Hankton was another guy. I’m like, “What the hell are y’all doing here?” They were all working for Master P. They were like, “Oh man, P’s trying out for the team. He’s gonna make the squad.” So I started laughing. I was like, “Are you guys serious?” But he had his whole entourage with him at the Embassy Suites hotel. Chucky Brown (Hornets forward): When it first happened, I didn’t know P’s past as far as playing went. You really didn’t know what to expect. You have a lot of basketball players that wanna rap. You have a lot of rappers that wanna play basketball. So you didn’t know how it was gonna be.
Chucky Brown: He was raw as a player. He had game, but he knew more of the playground stuff. For example, I can remember one incident where Bobby Phills was on the low post and P came and set a screen for him when he had the ball. In the NBA, you don’t wanna do that. You wanna space the floor. Bobby told him, “Don’t do that. Don’t come set the screen down here. We wanna keep the space so I can do my work, and if somebody comes and double-teams, then I can get it out and now we’re moving around the perimeter.” Recasner: There’s a lot of connection between the hip-hop world and basketball. I would say 50 percent of the league back then was probably listening to his music in their pregame. I know I was. (If) you’re trying to get hyped for a game back in ’99, 2000, you’re listening to Master P.
Dee Brown: (Laughs loudly) That’s not true. P never beat me in practice. He never beat me in a drill. He never beat me in one-on-one. I told him, “Hey, I don’t try to go and rap. Don’t try to come on the basketball court and shoot jumpers with me. You ain’t got a chance.” I told him that to his face. He tried. He tried hard. And yeah, as a rookie, I’d run him off screens, I’d throw an elbow here, Antonio Davis would give him a little hip-check there. So yeah, he went through it. But as far as me, I was one of the captains, one of the five or six best players on the team. I wasn’t worried about Master P, trust me. I was worried about freaking Greg Anthony and Mookie Blaylock. I wasn’t worried about Master P.
The NBA and National Basketball Players Association have talked about how they will address these issues together, but definitive plans are still forthcoming. The burden of financial donations to black communities disproportionately falls onto players, Bradley said, and hoped that more owners would follow the charitable lead of Dallas’ Mark Cuban and Charlotte’s Michael Jordan in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death last month.
Does Devonte Graham’s emergence and Terry Rozier’s contract prevent the Hornets from drafting a point guard? — @HanginWitCooper. Rick Bonnell: Absolutely not. Kupchak said as long ago as September and as recently as last week that this team isn’t at a stage in development when positions are more important than gathering talent. I believe him when he says if a player is clearly best on their board, but isn’t at a position of need, that Charlotte would draft that player and worry later about how the parts fit together.
No surprise, but several team executives tell me that they are anticipating that the economic fallout of the stalled season will lead most, if not all, big-ticket player options to be picked up in the offseason. That includes Gordon Hayward ($31.9 million), Andre Drummond ($28.8) and Nicolas Batum ($24 million). San Antonio’s DeMar DeRozan ($27.7 million) likely will, too, but with the Spurs rebuilding, DeRozan, 30, could roll the dice on there being one more big contract out there for him in the fall.
“The amount of time they’re spending with their teams and their players as a unit, we believe we should have the same. That would level the playing field a little bit more,” Borrego said. “For me it’s more about the time that we have (to work with players and to scrimmage) — that it syncs with what (other teams are) getting in Orlando — and also the live play, which we don’t get a lot in the summer.”
Hornets Sports & Entertainment released the following statement today regarding the team’s partnership with CPI: “Our chairman has been very clear about his thoughts surrounding the issues of racial equality, social justice and diversity. Hornets Sports & Entertainment shares these values. As a result, we believe it is appropriate at this time to end our partnership with CPI. We notified CPI CEO Ken Gill of our decision earlier today. Across our organization from our ownership, to our players, to our staff, we are fully committed to improving racial equality, social justice, diversity and access to education throughout our community.”
Per the Observer, Jorge Millares, the leader of Queen City Unity, sent out a mass email to local groups and organizations in the Charlotte area about the need for action following Floyd’s death in police custody late last month. Millares, per the report, said he received positive reactions about his email from almost everyone, except from CPI Security CEO Ken Gill. “Please spend your time in a more productive way,” Gill told Millares in an email, via the Observer. “A better use of time, would be to focus on the black on black crime and senseless killing of our young men by other young men. Have a great day, Ken Gill.”
Michael Jordan knows money alone can’t solve racism, or barriers to upward mobility for the poor. But he hopes the pledge he and Jordan Brand made Friday — to donate $100 million over the next 10 years — helps start a conversation and a level of education that can finally end the ingrained racism the Charlotte Hornets owner says he’s seen all his life as an African American. “We have encountered racism to be somewhat acceptable in certain circles,” Jordan told The Observer. “We’ve got to understand at an early age (that can’t be tolerated). Education is such an important part” of societal change.
Specifically, Jordan Brand will increase its work in communities across the United States to provide access to education and opportunities for future generations, while also taking a more active role in supporting organizations that work to effect policy change in local government. “We must join forces with the community, government and civic leaders to create a lasting impact together,” Jordan Brand president Craig Williams said. “There is still more work for us to do to drive real impact for the Black Community. We embrace the responsibility.”
The Jordan Brand pledge came hours after Nike announced its own “Commitment to the Black Community,” an additional $40 million collective pledge to community organizations from the Nike, Jordan and Converse brands over the coming four years. “Systemic racism and the events that have unfolded across America over the past few weeks serve as an urgent reminder of the continued change needed in our society,” Nike president and CEO John Donahoe said in a statement.