Reports: Heat to acquire UConn's Shabazz Napier in pick swap with Hornets
Charlotte selected Napier with the No. 24 pick in Thursday's draft and then agreed to deal him to Miami in exchange for the No. 26 pick and two second-round picks, according to multiple reports. The Heat drafted former UNC guard P.J. Hairston, who spent time in the D-League last season after being suspended, on behalf of the Hornets at No. 26. The terms of the agreement were reported by ESPN.com and Yahoo Sports.
Napier, 22, was a member of UConn's 2011 and 2014 NCAA title-winning teams, capturing 2014 NCAA Most Outstanding Player and First Team All-American Honors last season. A 6-foot guard who averaged 18 points, 5.9 rebounds and 4.9 assists per game last season, Napier drew praise from James during the 2014 NCAA tournament.
"No way [you] take another [point guard] in the lottery before Napier," James wrote in April.
When Napier went off the board at No. 24, James again gave him a plug on Twitter.
"My favorite player in the draft!" James wrote.
Napier was informed of the trade agreement during an interview that aired on ESPN ESPN.
"I'm just blessed, man," Napier replied. "It's a perfect moment for my family. I'm happy that they are here. It's a blessing. I would be lying to you if I told you I thought I would be here at this particular moment. ... I'm very excited [to play with LeBron James]. Now it's my job to get in the gym and prove it."
Miami lost to San Antonio in five games in the 2014 Finals, after which James said the Heat needed to significantly upgrade their roster. The Heat endured poor play from starting point guard Mario Chalmers against the Spurs, and Chalmers is set to become an unrestricted free agent in July.
Earlier this week, James exercised the early termination option of his contract, making him an unrestricted free agent in July. The Heat are still viewed as the favorites to sign James, and the organization's aggressive move to land Napier certainly looks like a move to show James they are serious about "retooling" the roster, as team president Pat Riley promised earlier this month.
Miami is still waiting to hear whether Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh will join James in opting out. The Heat have won two titles and made four Finals appearances since assembling the "Big 3" during the summer of 2010, and Riley encouraged all three players to remain in South Beach.
Hairston, 21, averaged 21.8 points and 3.5 rebounds in 26 appearances for the D-League's Texas Legends last season.