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Cameron Payne linked to Hornets in latest draft rumors

When Chad Ford updated his NBA Draft big board, he moved up Cameron Payne, a lengthy point guard from Murray State. Would the Hornets really take a point guard in the first round of the draft?

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Last summer the Charlotte Hornets gave Kemba Walker a four year, $48 million extension. Looking back, it's easy to poke holes in that decision. Could the team be suffering from buyer's remorse?

Cameron Payne is currently the 21st player off the most recent DraftExpress mock draft. He played at a small school against lesser competition and turns 21 years old this August. His shot isn't the prettiest, but it's effective, and he doesn't possess elite athleticism. However, according to Chad Ford (insider only), the Hornets and Indiana Pacers are both interested in taking Payne with their respective lottery picks. Here's exactly what Ford had to say about Payne:

Payne continues to draw serious interest to the point that he's getting several looks in the lottery according to multiple team sources. He was the highest-ranked player on our Big Board to go through athletic testing and shooting drills at the combine and tested well on both accounts. His length, solid athleticism and craftiness with the ball, combined with terrific interviews have him ranked as the third-best point guard in the draft by about 80 percent of the NBA folks I spoke with. Two teams I've heard are especially high on him in the lottery -- the Hornets and Pacers. The Jazz (if they decide to move Trey Burke) and Thunder also are possibilities in the lottery.

Admittedly, I haven't watched much Murray State basketball, but from what I can gather about Payne, I see what teams might like about him. For those interested in more than what I can pass along, please check out DraftExpress and their great player profile. He's a legit pick-and-roll player that constantly hits the roll-man and is really a gifted passer. His size is reminiscent of Jeff Teague and his left handed skills likely have scouts thinking of Mike Conley.

Even if Payne is this year's Elfrid Payton, would the Hornets really draft a point guard with the ninth selection? The team's only shooting guard on the roster after 2015/16 is P.J. Hairston. There is no center currently under contract after next season. People like to preach the "best player available" strategy in the draft, but teams rarely invest high picks in positions where starters are firmly entrenched.

Is this a smokescreen? Just another rumor? Or is the front office really thinking about this?