CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — The Charlotte Hornets wound up with small forward Miles Bridges from Michigan State in the first round of the NBA draft after a trade with the Los Angeles Clippers.
Charlotte initially selected point guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander from Kentucky with the 11th overall pick, but promptly traded the pick to the Clippers for the 12th overall pick and two future second round picks.
The Clippers then selected Bridges for the Hornets with the next pick.
The 6-foot-7 Bridges was a unanimous All Big 10 first team choice after averaging 17 points and seven rebounds last season for the Spartans.
Bridges ranked sixth in the Big Ten in scoring last season, 11th in rebounding and fourth in free throw percentage (85.3 percent).
He potentially gives the Hornets a better offensive option at small forward than starter Kidd-Gilchrist, whose strength is on the defensive end. At 225 pounds, he has an NBA ready body and is one of the most explosive leapers in the NBA draft. He scored frequently on perimeter spot ups and off screens while with the Spartans as well as on pick and roll opportunities.
The Hornets chose Bridges over Michael Porter Jr., who fell to the Denver Nuggets.
Mitch Kupchak is off to a busy start as Hornets general manager.
Kupchak’s decision trade down comes one day after new agreeing to trade eight-time All-Star center Dwight Howard to the Brooklyn Nets for center Timofey Mozgov and two second-round draft picks, a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press.
The person spoke to the AP on Wednesday on condition of anonymity because the league cannot approve the deal until the trade moratorium ends on July 6.
The 32-year-old Howard was due to make $23.8 million in the final year of his contract next season.
The Hornets went 36-46 last season and have failed to make the playoffs three of the past four seasons, causing owner Michael Jordan to fire general manager Rich Cho and coach Steve Clifford.
AP Basketball Writer Tim Reynolds contributed to this report.