It turns out embattled former UNC shooting guard P.J. Hairston won’t be leaving the state of North Carolina to embark on his NBA career. The Miami Heat traded Hairston to the Charlotte Hornets in a deal involving Connecticut star Shabazz Napier.
***Listen to the story***
It was a bit of a psyche-out for Hornets fans late Thursday night as the franchise, in dramatic fashion, ended up swapping Final Four MVP Napier for former Tar Heel Hairston.
The cards all seemed to fall in place for a trip to the Queen City for the man who scored 707 points in 71 games for Carolina in two seasons on the floor.
Last season, Hairston played for the Texas Legends in the NBA Development League after UNC chose to not file for the junior’s reinstatement from the NCAA.
Head Coach Roy Williams was notably disturbed by the Hairston saga last summer that spiraled out of control and ultimately ended in the demise of Hairston’s career at the college level.
But the UNC coach says he’s excited for P.J. and that he’s “happy that he will play in state and for another Tar Heel, Michael Jordan.” Famously, Jordan is the owner of the freshly re-minted Hornets.
Hairston is the 15th Tar Heel under Coach Williams to be selected in the first round of the NBA Draft. Overall, the Greensboro native is the 46th first round pick from UNC.
Coach Williams, who has always maintained tremendous confidence and belief in his former players, says “life has given him another opportunity and he will take great advantage of that chance.”
It will be fascinating to see what Hairston makes of this second chance. Apparently he’s done enough to convince Hornets general manager Rich Cho that he’s grown up and learned from his past mistakes.
Hairston says playing in the D-League really matured him and that he now has a “smaller circle” of outside acquaintances, keeping his family closer.
His play on the court, though, has certainly been sparkling. With the Legends, Hairston averaged 21.8 points on 45 percent shooting from the field.
Nothing is a done deal, but with the lack of long-range shooting in Charlotte’s roster, Hairston may add some more significant “buzz” to the Hornets next season.