The Charlotte Hornets have entered the NBA offseason after missing the playoffs for the third straight year. This was the first season under the new front office regime, led by President of basketball operations, Mitch Kupchak, and head coach, James Borrego. The team finished 39-43 and ninth in the East which was right around their preseason projections. This offseason is the biggest in franchise history and will alter the direction of the team for years to come.
Who is coming back
The following players are those who we know for certain (barring a trade) will be back with the team for 2019-2020: Devonte Graham, Nic Batum, Malik Monk, Miles Bridges, Dwayne Bacon, Cody Zeller, Tony Parker*, and Willy Hernangomez. All of the young guys who we grew to love this season will be back. This is promising given how well they (besides Malik) played down the stretch. Unfortunately, the team still has the well documented contract of Nic Batum (jumps up to $25 million this year instead of $23M) and Cody Zeller who can’t seem to stay healthy ($14.5M).
*Tony Parker is slated via contract to come back, but has already expressed his concern about returning to the team
Player options (likely coming back)
The following players have player options and are more than likely returning for one more season in Charlotte: Bismack Biyombo ($17M), Marvin Williams ($15M), and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist ($13M). I would assume that all three are going to opt-into their respective deals because there is no other franchise who would pay them that much money per year…sigh. Biyombo played spotty minutes all year and wasn’t terrible when he was on the court. Williams actually had a decent year all things considered, but fell out of the rotation late due to injury. MKG showed signs of being able to finally stretch the floor which was a welcomed addition to his game, but he fell out of the rotation entirely once the coaching staff decided to unleash the younger talent. In all, the Hornets would be paying $45 million across three very average players whose contributions are hit or miss game by game.
The following players will be free agents this offseason: Kemba Walker, Jeremy Lamb, and Frank Kaminsky. You’ve already heard enough about Kemba being a free agent so I won’t bang on that drum again. Jeremy Lamb had a career year and has positioned himself to get paid this offseason. He’s a solid number two, but would be great as a number three for a playoff contender. If Kemba does leave, I would love to retain Lamb this offseason. Kaminsky is the only restricted free agent of the bunch. Frank barely saw the court for the first sixty games of the season, but played exceptionally well when he received consistent playing time late in the year. I would love to have him back, but have no idea what the front office intends to do following the whole Kaminsky saga around trade deadline.
Assuming everyone but the free agents are back, the Hornets, who would not have a single all-star on the roster, would have already filled $102 million in their salary cap during a year where the free agent class is ridiculously talented top to bottom. The league wide salary cap for the 2019-2020 season is set at $109 million. I would like to personally thank former GM, Rich Cho for screwing this franchise and leaving the current front office SEVEN million dollars of cap space for this upcoming season. We love the food blog tho.
This offseason is already a train wreck and the players have just now left for vacation. A Kemba Walker max deal (hell, probably super-max) would easily shoot the team over the cap line and would leave zero room to acquire other free agents and improve. If Walker were to leave, this roster is abysmal with bad contracts everywhere and still little money for free agents and subsequent success. Don’t be mad at this front office if things go haywire this offseason. Instead offer understanding and patience, because that’s what they’ll need to weather this impossible storm.