Charlotte Hornets reserve center Kai Jones will not be with the team during training camp and will be away from the Hornets indefinitely due to personal reasons, the team announced on Saturday.
“There is no timetable for his return,” the Hornets said in a statement.
Jones had made several bizarre social media posts of late. The first was on Instagram Live last month, where Jones was behaving oddly and sweating profusely. Then there were a series of posts on X (formerly Twitter) where Jones suggested he was a better player than Charlotte star LaMelo Ball or No. 2 pick Brandon Miller, suggested the Hornets would not trade him, plus said he could beat LeBron James or Shaquille O’Neal one-on-one and had a better midrange game than Hornets minority owner Michael Jordan.
Jones then criticized teammate Mark Williams, the Hornets center who starts ahead of him. All of this led all his teammates to unfollow him on social media, according to reports.
Jones was not around the team in recent days for “optional” pre-camp workouts that, in the NBA mindset, are not really optional for players trying to climb the depth chart. All of this combined raised concern within the Hornets organization about Jones, reported Scott Fowler of the Charlotte Observer, in part because it appears to be a change in behavior from the team-first, hardworking player who by all accounts had been tight with his teammates since entering the NBA. Clearly there is more going on here than we can see from the outside. Hopefully Jones is in a good space and things will work out for him and the team.
Jones sits third on the Hornets depth chart at center, behind Williams and Nick Richards, but the No. 19 pick in the 2021 NBA Draft showed some promise at Summer League last July with some moments — including going against Victor Wembanyama — while averaging 7.8 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.8 blocks a game. Jones is under contract for this season for $3 million with a team option for $4.7 million for next season that has to be exercised by Oct. 31, or he becomes a free agent next summer.
Source: Yahoo Sports