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Charlotte Hornets reach agreement with key free agent PJ Washington

PJ Washington’s big present came three days after celebrating his 25th birthday.

Washington and the Charlotte Hornets agreed to a three-year contract worth up to $48 million, his agents Paul Washington Sr. of Washington Sports Group and Kevin Bradbury of Lift Sports Agency told The Observer on Saturday.

Talks were stagnant for the majority of the past month-plus, per sources, and this recently picked up over the days leading up to them finally coming to terms more than a week after the 2023-24 schedule was released.

Washington is a key piece of the Hornets’ core and posted his best season as a pro in 2022-23 after starting all 73 games he appeared in. He averaged a career-best 15.7 points per game, racking up 1,144 points to reach the 1,000-point plateau in a season for the first time. He ranked 19th in the NBA with 33 made field goals in the clutch — when the difference in the score is five points or fewer in the final five minutes of the fourth quarter or overtime. He drained 54.2% of his attempts in clutch time, ranking fifth.

But with Miles Bridges back in the fold and expected to see a good number of minutes at power forward once his suspension is complete, there’s a strong likelihood Washington’s overall numbers will decrease due to the Hornets’ increased depth. It will be among the many things to watch during an extremely important season given the franchise’s new ownership group led by Rick Schnall and Gabe Plotkin.

Washington’s return brings the Hornets’ roster to 18 following the signings of R.J. Hunter and Frank Ntilikina earlier this month.