Matt Rochinski and Sam Perley of hornets.com will be following the Hornets throughout the 2017 NBA offseason and keeping fans up to date through the Buzz Words | Hornets Notebook. Keep checking back to see what the latest is as the season unfolds.
By Sam Perley, hornets.com | Friday, July 7, 12:18 p.m.
Although the Hornets ranked tied for 25th in the NBA in takeaways per game last season, they got a “steal” in free agency according to their All-Star point guard Kemba Walker with the signing of Michael Carter-Williams. Charlotte will be hoping the 2014 Rookie of the Year can provide some stability off the bench as Walker’s primary backup this season.
“Two of our primary goals in the offseason were to acquire a backup point guard and improve our overall depth,” said Hornets General Manager Rich Cho at the Friday morning introductory press conference. “We feel with Michael Carter-Williams, we’ve filled both those goals. He’s excited to be here and we feel like with his size, he can play with and without Kemba [Walker] and we’re thrilled to welcome him to the Hornets family.”
Added Carter-Williams, “I’m really happy to be here. Charlotte’s a great city. I love the guys on the team they have already. When I heard Charlotte was interested in me, I was really intrigued and I really wanted to come here. I’m definitely glad to be here and it’s a great opportunity not only for myself, but for the whole organization.”
A two-year player at Syracuse University, Carter-Williams burst onto the scene in his first NBA season with Philadelphia, posting averages of 16.7 points, 6.2 rebounds, 6.3 assists and 1.9 steals on his way to claiming Rookie of the Year honors. Carter-Williams missed the start of the 2014-15 campaign after offseason shoulder surgery and despite sustaining his play upon returning, he was surprisingly shipped to the Milwaukee Bucks minutes before the trade deadline in February 2015.
Carter-Williams dealt with ankle issues and eventually a season-ending hip injury during his lone full season with the Bucks and was subsequently traded again to Chicago in October 2016. A bone bruise in his knee, a right wrist sprain and an unstable rotation in the Windy City limited the former 11th overall pick to just 45 appearances last season.
Carter-Williams’ arrival to Charlotte also marks the first time in his career he’s been able to pick a team and an opportunity that best suits him.
“It was really exciting. It’s definitely something I’m proud of that I got to go and choose a team. I’ve been traded a few times, you know, [and] it hasn’t been the easiest road, but this is a real bright light for me. It’s a really positive moment in my career and I look forward to taking advantage of it and really embracing everything here, from the coaching staff to the players to the veterans here, just learning each day,” he said.
Standing 6’6” with a 7’0” wingspan, Carter-Williams is one of the lengthiest point guards in the NBA – attributes that will surely appeal to defensive-minded Head Coach Steve Clifford. Much like the expected utilization of Dwight Howard, Carter-Williams won’t necessarily be asked to be the player he was in Philadelphia, but instead will likely have a role that ultimately maximizes his strengths.
The signing of Michael Carter-Williams is another in a growing list of players who came to Charlotte looking to experience a career rejuvenation of sorts. Perhaps a fresh start in the purple and teal will be just what the 25-year-old guard needs to get his play back on track.