Marcus Paige signs two-way contract with Hornets

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Marcus Paige talks to media at the Spectrum Center on Wednesday after signing a two-way contract with the Charlotte Hornets.

CHARLOTTE — Marcus Paige has found his next NBA home, and the location couldn’t be more ideal.

Paige officially became a member of the Charlotte Hornets on Wednesday, signing a two-way contract that allows him to play for the Hornets and their G League affiliate, the Greensboro Swarm.

His ties to the state of North Carolina are obvious to any college basketball fan. In his four years at UNC, Paige averaged 13.1 points and 4.3 assists per game and was a three-time Academic All-American. His double-clutching, leg-flailing 3-pointer in the 2016 national championship game will live forever in the form of GIFs and YouTube compilations.

After being drafted with the 55th pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, Paige signed with the G League’s Salt Lake City Stars. When the Stars played the Swarm on March 23, plenty of Tar Heel fans showed up and gave Paige a warm welcome. Now, every home game is a chance to watch him.

“You don’t always get that type of atmosphere in the G League,” Paige said of his March 23 return. “But that was a great environment, and I’m hoping we can replicate that a bunch with the Swarm this year.”

The two-way contract is brand new to the NBA this season. Paige and former Louisville center Mangok Mathiang were the first two in Hornets franchise history to ever sign one. Each team can carry two two-way players who don’t count toward the roster limit of 15. But those players are limited to a maximum of 45 days in the NBA, so they’ll play most of their games with their team’s G League affiliate.

There’s one more interesting stipulation. In previous years, any NBA team could call up any player from any G League team. But this season, a player is locked in once he signs a two-way contract with one organization. That’s a relief for every two-way signee, including Paige.

“For a guy in my situation, a lot of times, the last thing he has is stability,” he said. “To know I’ll be in North Carolina — either with the Swarm or with the Hornets — helps me focus on my development and have some security, knowing that is going to be home for a year.”

Paige played in 46 games for the Stars last season, averaging 12.1 points per game and shooting 36 percent from 3-point range. He continued his strong play in the Las Vegas Summer League, scoring a team-high 12.4 points per game for the Minnesota Timberwolves.

He’ll join Marvin Williams as the second former UNC player on the Hornets, who Michael Jordan owns. Williams comes back to North Carolina’s campus every summer, so he and Paige are already friends. Out of all his new teammates, Williams is the one Paige is most excited about.

“He’s one of the best when it comes to just being a leader and a good guy,” Paige said. “He helped me when I was in school, he helped me a little bit last year and I’m sure he’ll help me a ton moving forward.”

But before Paige locks in for the season, he has some very important business to take care of in Chapel Hill. On Aug. 12, he’ll marry Taylor Hartzog, his girlfriend of several years and a former dance team captain at UNC. They’re writing their own vows, which has led to some friendly debate that's since been solved.

“I’m a big Disney and Pixar guy,” Paige said. “I thought it would be kind of funny. I did not win that battle. That will not be in the vows.”

With this new two-way contract, the NBA is encouraging teams to put more time into player development. No matter which North Carolina city he’s playing his home games in, Paige knows it’s a perfect opportunity.

“Getting my foot in the door in any NBA organization is great,” he said. “But I feel like it’s extra special here because of all those connections.”


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