A wry moment between Charlotte Hornets General Manager Mitch Kupchak and newly re-signed forward PJ Washington set the tone for the team’s announcement of Washington’s renewal.
As Washington told WFNZ’s Will Palaszczuk that he “always wanted to be in Charlotte,” Kupchak interjected, “That’s not what your agent said,” drawing laughter throughout the Hornets Practice gym.
In a way, Washington represents where the Hornets were, and where they hope to go, after signing a reported three-year $48 million deal last Tuesday. Washington is the latest player drafted by Mitch Kupchak to earn a second contract with the team, joining a list that includes Nick Richards, Cody Martin, Miles Bridges & LaMelo Ball.
“Four years ago we drafted PJ, I would say every year he’s been with us he’s been a pleasure to work with, his growth on and off the court has been tremendous,” Kupchak said. “[He’s] the kind of player we want in Charlotte.”
Washington said the makeup of the Hornets frontcourt with him included with LaMelo Ball locked up long term made him want to make his own pledge to the Queen City.
“Everyone has been in the gym, everybody’s motivated,” Washington said.”We have a bunch of great players here. I’m excited for this season and all our work to show.”
Washington said he wants to be more comfortable with his mid-range shot and ability to score at “all three levels”.
While Washington conceded that the deal “took a minute” to get done, almost two months since the free agency period opened, Kupchak said it was important to get the right deal for both the player & the franchise. The general manager said they were prepared to go into the year with both Bridges & Washington on one-year qualifying offer tenders, but that they’re happy that one of the two is now secured beyond next season.
“We have plenty of financial flexibility going forward. If that happened, we feel that we could have figured it out next summer. To get a fair deal that we spent a lot of time trying to hammer out, probably led to a good result. I’m happy that we have somebody considering that we have some open ends this summer. So it’s good to have PJ on a multi-year deal.”
With the Hornets’ roster at 14 guaranteed contracts, Kupchak said he’s not sure whether they will use that final roster spot immediately, or let it play out with some Exhibit 10 contract guys during training camp. While many Hornets like Washington have been in the gym currently, the team will gather together for the official start of training camp later this month.
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