- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 18, 2014

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - Josh McRoberts is a free to play where he wants next season.

The Charlotte Hornets are hoping he’ll stay put.

McRoberts opted out of his contract with the Hornets on Wednesday making him a free agent, but general manager Rich Cho said the team hopes to bring back the 6-foot-10 power forward.

“He was a big part of our team and we definitely want to re-sign him,” Cho said at a pre-draft press conference at the team’s downtown arena. “He helped Kemba (Walker) and he helped Big Al (Jefferson). He’s such a great passer. He’s a connector to the team. And he’s a great teammate also. So we’re hoping we sign him.”


McRoberts, 27, was set to make nearly $2.8 million in the final year of his deal in 2014-15, but outperformed that contract.

He started a career-high 78 games last season for Charlotte and averaged 8.5 points, 4.8 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game.

The Hornets went 43-39 last season and made the playoffs for the first time since 2010. Cho is hoping to keep the young core of the team together while still adding pieces to the mix this offseason.

They should have the ammunition to do that.

With McRoberts opting out of his deal, the Hornets are nearly $16 million under the salary cap and have the ninth, 24th and 45th overall picks in next week’s NBA draft.

Cho said that gives the Hornets a lot of flexibility.

“We’re going to have options to trade up, trade back, trade out (out of the first round), trade for a veteran, keep the pick - a lot of different options,” Cho said.

Cho said he’s already fielded a lot of calls from teams interested in trading for those picks. He points out that nine NBA teams don’t have a first-round pick and five teams don’t have any draft picks at all.

“We have been getting a lot of calls and making a lot of calls,” Cho said.

When it comes time to pull the trigger on a trade, Cho will be making the call.

He previously shared personnel decisions with president of basketball operations Rod Higgins. But Higgins stepped down last week after seven seasons with the team leaving Cho in charge of all personnel moves.

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