Hornets will sign LiAngelo Ball to a contract. What that means for him and Charlotte

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Guess it wasn’t a just summer fling between LiAngelo Ball and the Charlotte Hornets after all.

The Hornets are signing Ball to a non-guaranteed contract on Thursday and will then waive him, a source with direct knowledge of the deal told The Observer. The move is being done so the Hornets can retain Ball’s G League rights, clearing the way for him to potentially play for the Greensboro Swarm.

Prior to Ball’s signing, the Hornets waived Jalen Crutcher and Cameron McGriff. They were signed to Exhibit 10 deals last Friday, filling out the back end of the roster. The Hornets also retain their G League rights, and they should join Xavier Sneed and DJ Carton in Greensboro once the Swarm is fully assembled under first-year coach Jordan Surenkamp.

The Swarm will further fill out its roster during the G League Draft on Oct. 23.

Despite a solid showing at the Las Vegas Summer League — where he was a fan favorite — Ball didn’t receive an invitation to be a member of the Hornets’ 20-player training camp roster. In five games in Vegas, he averaged 9.6 points and 2 rebounds in 17.4 minutes, connecting on 37.5% of his shots.

During media day on Sept. 25, coach James Borrego praised Ball’s growth.

“I’m comfortable with LiAngelo and how he played,” Borrego said. “I thought he got better during that period but we have to make certain decisions here, and I’m comfortable with where we’re at. ... I can only speak for what he did on the floor in Vegas, and I thought he performed well and opened eyes and played at a higher level than I expected.”

Overall, Ball was fifth on the team in scoring and 11th in rebounding. Those five games represented his first true opportunity to showcase his game since he inked an Exhibit 10 contract with Detroit in December, getting waived 12 days later after suffering a foot injury.

His quick release, beefy 6-foot-5, 230-pound frame and physical presence were on full display. The crowd roared nearly every time he released a shot.

“It was a good experience,” Ball said Aug. 17. “I was able to pick up new things and learn new stuff because I have never done summer league before. It was a good experience overall. I was glad to be here.”

He added: “I feel like I belong in the league, but I know I can show more than what I did.”

Although it wasn’t his best, it was good enough for the Hornets to keep tabs on him.

“LiAngelo did a good job in summer league, I can say that,” Borrego said last month. “As a basketball coach, I think he did a heck of a job in the time we had him there. What happens now in the future with LiAngelo, I don’t have that answer.”

Now there is one: He’s likely Greensboro bound.

And it should make younger brother, LaMelo, happy that he’ll still be in the vicinity.

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