Hornets announce Hunter, Mensah, Brown Jr. waived, Ntilikina injured

The Charlotte Hornets announced today that the team has waived R.J. Hunter, Nathan Mensah and Terrell Brown Jr., bringing the roster within the NBA’s 15-man limit.

Hunter was brought into camp on an Exhibit 9 contract and Mensah was on an Exhibit 10. Both averaged single-digit minutes per game during the preseason and were long shots to make the 15-man roster, but it’s highly likely they end up with the Greensboro Swarm for the 2023-24 season. Greensboro’s training camp opens on Oct. 30.

Terrell Brown Jr. was signed to an Exhibit 10 Friday night and waived Saturday afternoon. The 25-year-old guard played at Shoreline Community College, Seattle, Arizona and Washington in college, and spent his first season as a pro with the Memphis Hustle in 2022-23. He averaged 7.5 points, 2.2 rebounds and 3.8 assists, and shot 42.3% from deep in 33 games played with the Grizzlies’ G League affiliate.

Before joining the Hustle, Brown was the seventh overall pick in the 2022 G League Draft by the College Park Skyhawks. The Swarm traded Cameron McGriff to acquire Brown’s G League player rights in a trade yesterday, all but assuring he plays for Greensboro this year. Fun fact via Wikipedia: Brown is Jason Terry’s godson.

The Hornets also announced today that Frank Ntilikina suffered a non-displaced fracture of his left tibia in the preseason game against Boston. Ntilikina will be reevaluated in four weeks.

It appeared that Ntilikina was the frontrunner for minutes in the backcourt behind LaMelo Ball and Terry Rozier prior to suffering the injury on a hard fall. Nick Smith Jr. and Edmond Sumner might be in line for a chance to crack the rotation with Bryce McGowens and Théo Maledon both sidelined in the immediate future.

Steve Clifford could opt to run a shorter rotation early in the season, though there will be a thin margin for error with a plethora of deep bench players unavailable. The Hornets simply can’t afford to lose any more depth at guard despite the fact Ntilikina had his rough stretches running point. As of now, Ntilikina, McGowens, Maledon, Cody Martin and James Bouknight are all out.

On Friday, Brandon Miller was named as a defendant in a federal wrongful death lawsuit stemming from his connection to Jan. 15 shooting in Tuscaloosa, Ala. during which Jamea Harris was killed.

As Hornets fans are acutely aware of, this outcome was always in the cards. Miller was never charged with a crime and gave a statement publicly about the shooting back in March. It’s unlikely that this affects his availability. Another addition to the list of off-court issues currently surrounding the Hornets.

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