Charlotte Hornets

NBA Notes: Norman Powell inks 4-year extension with Raptors

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NBA Notes: Norman Powell inks 4-year extension with Raptors

TORONTO -- The Toronto Raptors signed guard Norman Powell to a four-year extension Thursday.

The deal begins next season and is reportedly worth $42 million.

The 24-year-old Powell averaged 8.4 points and 2.2 rebounds in 76 games last season. The former UCLA player was drafted 46th overall in 2015, and averaged 5.6 points in 49 games as a rookie.

"I'm ready for it," Powell said. "It's what I've worked for. It's what I've fought for my first two years. . . I've worked, I've pushed myself in a totally different way this offseason. I'm preparing myself for a full 82-game season, for increased minutes, taking care of my body, just training and trying to improve. So I'm ready for it. I'm excited to get the season started."

Hornets: Batum to miss 6-8 weeks with elbow injury
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Hornets swingman Nicolas Batum will miss a minimum of six to eight weeks with a left elbow injury.

The team announced that an MRI on Thursday revealed the nine-year NBA veteran tore his ulnar collateral ligament in his non-dominant arm in the first quarter of Charlotte's preseason road contest against the Pistons on Wednesday.

The Hornets have not decided if Batum will need surgery or will attempt to rehab the injury.

Batum, who signed a five-year, $120 million contract in 2016, was expected to start for Charlotte. Batum's injury means Jeremy Lamb could be thrust into a starting role to open the regular season.

Batum last year became the first Charlotte player to score more than 1,000 points, grab 450 rebounds and hand out over 450 assists in a season.

Wizards: Morris rejoins team after trial, hernia surgery
WASHINGTON -- Washington Wizards power forward Markieff Morris had a busy month.

"I'm in a great position. I just had a beautiful young daughter. I just had successful surgery, and of course we beat the case," Morris said Thursday in his return to the team for the first time since his wild ride began.

The most recent milestone occurred Tuesday, when a Phoenix jury acquitted Markieff and his twin brother, Boston Celtics forward Marcus, after a two-week trial on aggravated assault charges. The Morris brothers were accused of being part of a group that beat a former friend in January 2015 outside a high school basketball game.

"Our lawyers did a great job the entire case," Morris said. "We were positive the entire time, confident that we were going to win. Just happy it's behind us and not a distraction anymore" (see full story).

Mavericks: Team leaves Carlisle, veterans at home
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle did not make the trip to Orlando for a preseason game against the Magic due to illness.

Dallas officials said associate head coach Melvin Hunt will stand in for Carlisle on Thursday night.

Carlisle was not alone in not making the trip. Veterans Dirk Nowitzki, Wesley Matthews, Harrison Barnes, Nerlens Noel, J.J. Barea, Josh McRoberts and Devin Harris also will not be in Orlando to face the Magic.

The Mavericks (2-0) are coming off a 118-71 home win over the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday night. Assistant coach Kaleb Canales also did not make the trip to Orlando so that he can remain in Dallas to work with the veteran players who remained at home.

NBA Notes: Hornets coach Steve Clifford supports Michael Kidd-Gilchrist

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NBA Notes: Hornets coach Steve Clifford supports Michael Kidd-Gilchrist

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Hornets coach Steve Clifford emphatically threw his support behind Michael Kidd-Gilchrist on Friday, saying the often criticized small forward is a significant contributor and will continue to start.

The five-year NBA veteran has been widely criticized for his offensive deficiencies and his awkward looking jump shot, but Clifford insists the former No. 2 overall pick makes up for it with his defense and other intangibles. He expects Kidd-Gilchrist to develop into one of the top 10 defensive players in the league this year.

"I think he's going to have a great year," Clifford said.

Clifford knows Kidd-Gilchrist's jump shooting is not his strength in an NBA game where spacing --and good shooting -- is vital. Kidd-Gilchrist shot 47 percent from the field last season and only 11 percent from 3-point range.

But Clifford said spacing "is not as important as being competitive, it's not as important as character, and it's not as important as just natural talent. He is a talented athlete, he has a feel for the game and he's a tough guy who cares about the team" (see full story).

Bulls: Payne out 3-4 months after foot surgery
CHICAGO -- The Chicago Bulls say guard Cameron Payne had surgery on his broken right foot and is expected to be out three to four months.

Payne had surgery to repair the fifth metatarsal on Wednesday. The team says he will remain in a splint the next seven to 10 days and then spend six to eight weeks in a boot.

Payne was injured in a workout on July 18. Six weeks of rest in a boot was prescribed, but the team said recently a subsequent scan showed the bone did not heal "satisfactorily."

Payne also broke his right foot during the 2015-16 season with Oklahoma City.

Payne was acquired in the February trade that sent Taj Gibson and Doug McDermott to the Thunder. He struggled for Chicago, averaging 4.9 points in 11 games.

NBA Notes: Chauncey Billups meets with Cavaliers for 2nd straight day

NBA Notes: Chauncey Billups meets with Cavaliers for 2nd straight day

CLEVELAND -- Chauncey Billups once competed against the Cleveland Cavaliers as a player. He could be joining them as an executive.

Billups met with team owner Dan Gilbert on Wednesday for the second straight day to discuss a front-office position with the Cavaliers, who are regrouping after losing to Golden State in the NBA Finals.

Gilbert could be close to offering a job to Billups, according to a person who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the talks. Billups is the first person to meet with Gilbert since he parted ways with general manager David Griffin this week when talks about a possible contract extension broke down.

Billups was in Cleveland, but as of 7 p.m. EDT there was no official agreement in place. The 40-year-old is likely weighing whether Cleveland is a good spot for him to begin a new career, given the team's recent upheaval and that superstar LeBron James will be eligible for free agency after next season.

While the Cavaliers are looking for Griffin's replacement after he guided them to three straight Finals, it's believed that Billups would take on a different role, perhaps as the team's director of basketball operations. Trent Redden, who served as the senior vice president of basketball operations, is also not returning next season.

Billups has no previous experience as an NBA executive, but he does have a long-standing relationship with Gilbert from their time together in Detroit and he knows the league well. Billups, who was a five-time All-Star, also is close with Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue (see full story).

Wizards: Frazier acquired from Pelicans for pick
WASHINGTON -- The Washington Wizards have acquired point guard Tim Frazier from the New Orleans Pelicans for a second-round pick in the NBA draft.

Wednesday's deal gives the Pelicans the No. 52 overall selection Thursday night.

That was the only pick Washington had this year. Its first-rounder went to Brooklyn in the Bojan Bogdanovic deal at the trade deadline.

The 6-foot-1, 170-pound Frazier has averaged 6.2 points, 4.4 assists and 2.4 rebounds in three NBA seasons with New Orleans, Philadelphia and Portland. He has played in 127 regular-season games, making 40 starts.

Last season, he averaged 7.1 points and 5.2 assists for the Pelicans in 65 games, including 35 starts.

With Washington, Frazier could be the primary backup to All-Star point guard John Wall.

Lakers: Young declines contract option for next season
LOS ANGELES -- Nick Young will be an unrestricted free agent this summer after declining his $5.66 million contract option for next season with the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Lakers announced Young's decision Wednesday.

Young has spent four tumultuous seasons with the Lakers, averaging 13.1 points and 2.3 rebounds over 220 games.

The Los Angeles native realized a childhood dream by joining the Lakers, but the 10-year NBA veteran's tenure has coincided with the worst four-year stretch in the 16-time NBA champions' history.

After struggling on the court during the 2015-16 season and enduring upheaval in his personal life due to an infamous video scandal with then-rookie D'Angelo Russell, Young enjoyed a career revival last season under new coach Luke Walton. Young averaged 13.2 points while hitting 40.4 percent of his 3-pointers.

Hornets: Coach says Howard can return to All-Star level
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Charlotte coach Steve Clifford is confident he can help newly acquired Hornets center Dwight Howard become a dominant force and an NBA All-Star again.

Clifford is familiar with Howard, having coached him for six seasons as an assistant in Orlando and Los Angeles.

"I know what he has to do to play well," Clifford said Wednesday. "He understands that I know him. I know his game. Being around him in different settings I have a feel for what he likes to do... There is no reason he can't get back to playing at a really high level."

General manager Rich Cho said Clifford's familiarity with Howard is a major reason the Hornets pulled the trigger on a trade that sent guard Marco Belinelli, center Miles Plumlee and the No. 41 overall pick in the NBA draft to the Atlanta Hawks in exchange for Howard and the No. 31 overall pick. It meant taking on Howard's contract, which will pay him $47 million over the next two seasons.

Now the question becomes if Howard can bounce back from two tumultuous seasons in Atlanta and Houston, and also fit in in Charlotte.

Howard was an NBA All-Star eight straight seasons from 2007-14. But Howard didn't play in the fourth quarter two of Atlanta's first-round playoff games last season, something that irked the 13-year NBA veteran. Atlanta dealt Howard to Charlotte just one year into a three-year, $74 million contract (see full story).