Hornets add UConn guard, Plumlee
Published 12:00 am Friday, July 30, 2021
By Steve Reed
AP Sports Writer
CHARLOTTE (AP) — Charlotte Hornets general manager Mitch Kupchak was a busy man Thursday night.
The Hornets selected guard James Bouknight from Connecticut with the No. 11 pick and landed a pair of centers via trade.
Kupchak acquired veteran center Mason Plumlee from the Detroit Pistons before the draft, then traded away a protected future first-round pick to the New York Knicks for the 19th overall pick and got Texas center Kai Jones, according a person familiar with the situation.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity Thursday night because the trades have not yet been made official.
Charlotte also selected 6-foot-10 forward JT Thor from Auburn with the first of its two second-round picks.
Kupchak said he never expected Bouknight to fall to No. 11, which made drafting him a no-brainer even though he was besieged by trade requests. He said he’s never received more calls for a pick in his 20-plus years as a general manager.
“The demand for No. 11 the last 20 minutes was pretty much off the charts,” Kupchak said. “A lot of temptation there, but we are very glad we stayed there and got the player we got.”
Bouknight fills a position of need for the Hornets.
At 6-foot-5 and 190 pounds he gives the Hornets an explosive shot-maker who scores the ball with relative ease. He’s coming off a breakout season where he averaged 18.7 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 1.8 assists per game for the Huskies, earning All-Big East first-team honors.
“I’m unique and creative, someone you can give the ball to who can go get a bucket,” Bouknight said.
The Hornets are looking to build a roster behind NBA Rookie of the Year LaMelo Ball, the No. 3 overall pick in last year’s draft, and last year’s free agent pickup Gordon Hayward and Bouknight is the type of scorer they need on the wing.
“I think we complement each other,” Bouknight said of playing with Ball. “We both play with a different type of flare and a different type of swag.”
Bouknight said he can’t wait to meet Hornets owner Michael Jordan, a six-time NBA champion.
“I don’t really get star struck easily, but when I see him I’m gonna be star struck,” Bouknight said. “I mean, it’s Jordan, you know?”
Charlotte entered the draft with a huge need at center with Cody Zeller and Bismack Biyombo set to become free agents.
Plumlee, an eight-year NBA veteran, averaged 10.4 points and 9.3 rebounds last season for the Pistons.
In trading for Plumlee, the Hornets also got the Pistons’ No. 37 pick while surrendering the No. 57 pick. In return the Hornets took on Plumlee’s contract, which will pay him about $8 million in each of the next two seasons.
The 6-foot-10, 210-pound Jones averaged 8.8 points and 4.6 rebounds per game last season for the Longhorns and was named Big 12 Sixth Man of the Year.
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