Within hours of learning the Utah Jazz had matched their massive offer for restricted free agent Gordon Hayward, the Charlotte Hornets came to terms with combo forward Marvin Williams.
Williams, who also played for the Jazz last season, will get a two-year, $14 million deal. He can fill some of the gap left by power forward Josh McRoberts’ departure for the Miami Heat. However, the athletic 6-foot-9 Williams also could play some small forward in situations where coach Steve Clifford wants to go big.
The Jazz informed the Hornets on Saturday morning it would match the four-year, $63 million offer sheet to which Charlotte signed Hayward on Thursday. Hayward would have addressed the Hornets’ need for better scoring and long-range shooting at small forward and shooting guard.
It was no surprise the Jazz matched. There were numerous reports in Salt Lake City media that the Jazz would pay whatever another team would in order to retain Hayward.
The Hornets had been targeting Williams as an option since hearing McRoberts accepted a four-year, $23 million offer from the Heat. The Hornets made a comparable offer to McRoberts, who started most of the past 1 1/2 seasons in Charlotte. Team owner Michael Jordan credited McRoberts with being the Hornets’ “connect-the-dots” guy, responsible for better ball-movement. McRoberts also shot 36 percent from 3-point range last season.
Williams isn’t the passer McRoberts is, but he can help space the floor for center Al Jefferson with shooting range. He shot 36 percent from the 3-point line last season.
Williams played one season at North Carolina before turning pro following the Tar Heels’ 2005 run to the NCAA championship. Then-Bobcats coach-general manager Bernie Bickerstaff had Williams at the top of his draft board that spring, but the Hornets ended up with the fifth pick in that draft and took Williams’ college teammate, point guard Raymond Felton.
Williams was drafted second overall in 2005 by the Atlanta Hawks, who passed over elite point guards Chris Paul and Deron Williams. Williams didn’t live up to that pick, but he did last seven seasons in Atlanta before being traded to the Jazz.
In Utah, he averaged 7.2 and 9.1 points each season, shooting about 43 percent from the field.
The Hornets haven’t shown much interest in the other small forwards available in free agency. Trevor Ariza has come to terms with the Houston Rockets. Luol Deng and Lance Stephenson are still available, but they don’t appear to be in the Hornets’ plans.