NBA Draft: Hornets make trade after selecting Colorado’s KJ Simpson in second round

Jeff Peterson made his first notable offseason transaction as the Charlotte Hornets’ vice president of basketball operations.

The Hornets are acquiring Reggie Jackson and three unprotected second-round picks from Denver, league sources confirmed to The Observer on Thursday. It’s the second time Charlotte has traded for the 34-year-old point guard in the past 16 months.

Jackson was waived by the Hornets in February of 2023 after being picked up in a trade with the LA Clippers on February 9, and didn’t appear in a game for Charlotte.

Former Denver Nuggets guard Reggie Jackson. / Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports
Former Denver Nuggets guard Reggie Jackson. / Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

There’s a good chance that will happen again.

Jackson recently opted into the final year of his contract and will earn $5.25 million in 2024-25. The Hornets will likely waive Jackson, considering they already have star point guard LaMelo Ball along with Tre Mann on the roster. They also selected Colorado point guard KJ Simpson at No. 42 in the NBA Draft.

“As far as the trade goes, I can’t comment on that,” Peterson told reporters Tuesday evening. “What I will say is: We will always be very strategic and opportunistic in terms of being able to collect assets and utilize our room this summer, going into free agency as it relates to finding future Hornets, as well.”

Hornets draft Pac-12 standout point guard KJ Simpson

KJ Simpson joins power forward Tidjane Salaun, whom the team selected No. 6 overall, in Charlotte’s rookie class.

The 21-year-old West Hills, California, native, averaged 19.7 points per game this past season for the Colorado Buffaloes. Simpson hit a game-winning jumper with less than two seconds left in Colorado’s NCAA Tournament win against Florida.

“Charlotte was that team,” an excited Simpson told reporters Thursday from New York. “Being on that phone call, I remember watching as a young, young kid, watching all these other guys have these phone calls and talking to their teams they just got drafted to. It’s like a little bucket list, honestly, I was so happy and ecstatic.

“I let them know I’ll run through a brick wall right away when I get there.”

Simpson, listed at 6-foot-2, played three years in college and was an All-Pac-12 selection in 2023-24. He shot 43.4% from 3-point range and led his team in scoring.

He joins a young roster on new head coach Charles Lee’s squad that hopes to include LaMelo Ball for most of the season. Brandon Miller, selected second overall by the Hornets last year, enters his sophomore NBA season following a standout rookie campaign.

“His character is exactly what we want the Charlotte Hornets to be about,” Peterson said of Simpson.

Charlotte Hornets’ 2024 NBA Draft picks

No. 6 overall: Tidjane Salaun, PF, France

No. 42 overall: KJ Simpson, PG, Colorado