June 23, 2016

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) Charlotte Hornets general manager Rich Cho said last week the team was thinking of trading out of the NBA draft.

That became a reality on Thursday night after the Hornets dealt their only draft pick - the No. 22 selection overall - to the Sacramento Kings for veteran shooting guard Marco Belinelli, a person familiar with the situation said.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the trade won't become official until after the NBA's new fiscal season begins on July 7.

That meant Charlotte picked for Sacramento at No. 22, taking Syracuse forward Malachi Richardson. Richardson, who led the Orange to the Final Four last season, will join the Kings after the trade is approved by the league.

Hornets general manager Rich Cho couldn't discuss the trade under NBA rules except to say ''we are currently in discussions to trade the pick to another team. But we can't consummate a trade until after the moratorium is over. Therefore we can't comment until trade discussions are completed.''

Belinelli will look to re-ignite his career in Charlotte.

He signed a $19 million, three-year deal to join the Kings as a free agent last summer but did not fit in well with the team. The Hornets will be on the hook for the remaining $13.26 million over the next two seasons for Belinelli.

The 30-year-old Belinelli shot a career-worst 30.6 percent from 3-point range last season and struggled defensively. He scored 10.2 points per game, mostly coming off the bench.

He is a career 37.9 percent shooter from 3-point range and has started 216 career games.

The nine-year NBA veteran has played for six teams during his career, winning an NBA championship with the San Antonio Spurs in 2013-14. Belinelli has averaged 9.5 points and 1.6 assists per game during his career and shoots 42.4 percent from the field.

Belinelli, from Italy, spent his first two seasons with Golden State, before moving on to Toronto, where he spent one season. He spent two seasons with New Orleans and a year with Chicago before joining the Spurs in 2013-14, where he was the 3-point shootout champion.

The move could be an admission the Hornets will not be able re-sign either Courtney Lee or Jeremy Lin - or possibly both - in free agency. The Hornets have eight free agents and have said their top priority is to re-sign Nicolas Batum, who is expected to receive around $20 million per year.

Cho said the Hornets considered trading up, down and completely out of the draft.

''We are always trying to improve the team and that is the overriding goal of the offseason,'' Cho said.

The Hornets didn't have a second-round pick.

Cho said the team briefly considered trading back into the second round but ''some of the guys that we wanted were gone'' and decided not to make a move.

Charlotte finished 48-34 in 2015-16, its third season under coach Steve Clifford.

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