Hornets limited to quiet moves in free agency

Forward Marvin Williams, who played college basketball at North Carolina, signed a two-year free agent contract with the Hornets.

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After losing out on their top two priorities — re-sign forward Josh McRoberts and snag restricted free agent Gordon Hayward — the Charlotte Hornets have finally landed some free agents, though they’re not the big splash owner Michael Jordan had been hoping for.

On Sunday, the Hornets signed little-known free agent Brian Roberts, a point guard that played last season with in New Orleans. He will back up Kemba Walker. Charlotte was also able to procure the services of forward Marvin Williams, who is well known by those in the area. He was a major contributor at the University of North Carolina, helping the Tar Heels win the 2005 national championship.

Williams’ contract is by far the most substantial, as he signed a two-year deal for $14 million. Williams, the second overall pick in the 2005 NBA Draft, spent the past two seasons in Utah, where he averaged 8.1 points and 4.3 rebounds per game.

What makes Williams a much-needed signing for the Hornets is that he can offset the loss of McRoberts, who was a main cog in Charlotte’s offensive flow and often times playing point forward. McRoberts signed a free agent contract with the Miami Heat last week. Like McRoberts, Williams can shoot relatively well from beyond the arc (36 percent last season) and play both forward positions.

He can also start while second-year player Cody Zeller continues to mature and learn at his power forward position.

What also makes Williams an attractive option for Charlotte is that it was able to sign him to only a two-year deal, which means the Hornets are not tied down to him long term and he could potentially become a tradable commodity next year due to his expiring contract.

Roberts, on the other hand, signed a two-year deal valued at $5.5 million. Last season with the Pelicans, Roberts averaged 9.4 points and 3.3 assists per game while shooting a respectable 36 percent from 3-point distance.

Another move the Hornets made without much fanfare was the acquisition of guard Scotty Hopson from the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Brandon Haywood trade from draft night. Upon receiving Hopson, he was immediately traded to New Orleans for cash considerations. Charlotte did well just to get anything out of him since Hopson was likely destined to be cut due to his nonguaranteed contract.

The Hornets started the free agent signing period with roughly $21 million in cap space. They’ve spent some, but still have plenty left to offer that could potentially bring in a big-name player that Jordan is wanting.

The problem: there aren’t that many big-time players left, with the exception of guard/forward Lance Stephenson, who led the NBA in triple-doubles last season with the Indiana Pacers. However, most prognosticators believe the Pacers will end up resigning him.