Off-season Preview: Charlotte Hornets

After a surprise 48 win 2015-2016 campaign and an impressive showing in the first round of the playoffs the Charlotte Hornets were primed for a breakout season. They were getting a healthy Michael Kidd-Gilchrist back (and he stayed healthy), Kemba Walker was set to have another stellar year (he did) and Nicholas Batum was set to become an even better compliment to Walker plus with a healthy season (yay) regain his reputation for being a steady 3 and D guy (nay).

Alas things didn’t turn out as expected for the Bees. Although performing pretty well on the defensive end (having arguably the third best wing defender in the league definitely helps) they were wildly inconsistent scoring the ball. For no lack of trying Steve Clifford and his staff threw out everything including the kitchen sink in attempts to get them going offensively but it just wasn’t enough. Let’s see what they can do this summer to get them back in the thick of an improved Eastern Conference.

Needs: Smartly build the bench through the draft and minor free agent signings.

Wants: Add another defender.

 

Money Situation

Guaranteed                                         2017-18                             Insider info
Nicolas Batum                                   $22,434,783
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist                     $13,000,000
Marvin Williams                               $13,168,750
Cody Zeller                                         $12,584,270
Miles Plumlee                                    $12,500,000
Kemba Walker                                   $12,000,000                    Extension eligible
Jeremy Lamb                                     $7,000,000                     Extension eligible
Marco Belinelli                                  $6,606,060
Frank Kaminsky                                $2,847,600

Non/partial                                          2017-18                         Guarantee date
Ramon Sessions                                $6,270,000                   Team option June 29
Treveon Graham                              $1,312,611
Briante Weber                                  $1,471,382                                Aug. 1
Johnny O’Bryant                               $1,524,305                               Aug. 1

FA cap hold                                        2017-18                              FA status
Brian Roberts                                    $1,471,382                            Non-Bird
Christian Wood                                 $1,471,382                             Non-Bird

First-round cap hold                         2017-18
No. 11 selection                                $2,904,480

Outlook

Okay folks, this is going to be really simple. Charlotte needs shooting. Despite being around league average in scoring and offensive rating they kinda stunk shooting the rock. They were a horrific 26th in field goal percentage (44.2%) and 18th in three point shooting (35.1%). Luckily the Hornets won’t have to look far to find help. Duke shooting guard Luke Kennard is almost too good of a fit here. He lets it fly with great efficiency and has good size. Don’t be surprised if he sees the court right away.

Maneuvering through free agency will be a bit more of a trial for the Bees. They have nine guys on guaranteed contracts and not much in the way of non-guarantee contracts to unload and walking away from Ramon Sessions’ $6.2 million deal won’t be be nearly as easy a call as many may expect. Right now they are $17.5 million over the cap and wants badly not to be bothered with the luxury tax. With that said Charlotte will need to address their remaining needs using the $8.4 million MLE and the $3.2 million bi-annual exception.

Names to watch: Micheal Carter-Williams – PG – Restricted, Ben McLemore – SG – Restricted, Jodie Meeks – SG – Unrestricted, Michael Beasley – SF/PF – Unrestricted, Donatas Motiejunas – PF/C – Unrestricted, Anthony Tolliver – PF – Unrestricted, Tony Allen – SG – Unrestricted

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