Joe Chealey just wanted to get his foot in the door with the NBA.
At this rate, the former College of Charleston point guard might break it down.
The Charlotte Hornets exercised the two-way player conversion option on Chealey, team president of basketball operations and general manager Mitch Kupchak announced Saturday afternoon.
Chealey was signed to a two-way contract with the Hornets for the 2018-19 season. The 2018-19 season is the second year that NBA teams can utilize two-way contracts, in which clubs are permitted to carry two players on their roster in addition to their 15-man regular season roster.
Chealey will spend time with the team’s NBA G League squad, the Greensboro Swarm, as well as the main club, but he is allowed no more than 45 days in the NBA, not including any time prior to the start of the Swarm’s training camp and at the end of the Swarm season.
“It’s kind of a surreal feeling right now, I just found out a couple of hours ago,” Chealey said in a telephone interview on Saturday. “It’s been a crazy few weeks going through training camp and trying to earn my spot, but this the next step for me to fulfill my ultimate dream of playing in the NBA. I knew there was a two-way spot when I came to camp, and I just wanted to make enough of an impression to get an opportunity to play and hopefully earn a spot with the big club.”
Per team policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed. The base salary for NBA G League players is $7,000 per month or $35,000 for the five-month season.
Chealey is in a similar situation as former South Carolina star P.J. Dozier. After leading the Gamecocks to a Final Four appearance, Dozier went undrafted by the NBA in 2017. Dozier was signed as a free agent by the Oklahoma City Thunder and spent most of the year with the team’s G League affiliate – Oklahoma City Blue. He played 43 games for the Blue, averaging 12.9 points a game. He played in two games with Thunder, making his NBA debut against the Los Angeles Lakers this past February.
Chealey was originally signed by the Hornets on July 27 as an undrafted free agent. He has appeared in three preseason contests with Charlotte, averaging 4.3 points and 1.0 assists per game.
“I think I’ve done a pretty good job, I’m just trying to learn as much as I can from the veterans on the team,” Chealey said. “I’m just trying to listen and be a sponge and soak everything up. I felt like I had a pretty good camp.”
The 6-3 guard took part in the NBA's Summer League with the Hornets. In four games, he averaged 6.3 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.8 assists in 17.4 minutes per game.
“Hopefully, this is just the beginning for me,” Chealey said. “There are still some goals in front of me that I want to achieve.”
The Orlando, Fla., native played in 129 games with the Cougars and left as the school’s all-time leader in free throws (582), ranked fourth in scoring (1,825) and eighth in assists (395). As a senior, Chealey averaged 18.0 points, 4.6 rebounds and 3.6 assists and helped lead the Cougars to a Colonial Athletic Association tournament title and the school’s first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1999.