The Charlotte Hornets have been a team right at or above the luxury tax area for the last couple of seasons. Now as the season winds down and the Hornets are getting closer to another season picking in the lottery, the most important thing for General Manager Mitch Kupchak and his team is the future.
Even though Charlotte hasn’t been a major player in free agency in the past, the Hornets have this summer and next to potentially add some pieces to an interesting young core. So, let’s look at what’s on the books in Buzz City. (All figures are from our good friend Yahoo Sports NBA Writer Keith Smith).
Players Under Contract: (6)
- Terry Rozier III- $18,900,000 (one more guaranteed season after this one)
- Cody Zeller- $15,415,730 (Final year of contract)
- Malik Monk- $5,345,688 (has a qualifying offer for the 21-22 season)
- P.J. Washington- $4,023,600 (two more team option years and one qualifying/restricted year after 2020-21)
- Miles Bridges- $3,934,320 (one team option and one qualifying/restricted year after 2020-21)
- Cody Martin- $1,517,981 (one guaranteed, one non-guaranteed and one qualifying/restricted year left after 2020-21)
Only $54 million is tied up with the existing 6 players on this list for next season, so the Hornets are starting to look at a bit of space under the cap. If the Hornets really wanted to trade Zeller, they could realistically due to him having an expiring deal. Bridges, Washington and the improving Martin are all on team friendly contracts and they could even outperform their current deals.
Monk is biggest question mark for the future. He’s had his struggles throughout his first two and half seasons and then started to turn a corner before being suspended in February for potentially the rest of the season. In his final guaranteed season under contract, he must produce, or Charlotte needs to find a new home for the former Wildcat.
Players with Options: (1)
- Nicolas Batum- $27,130,434
Good news for Hornets fans is that this contract is expiring, the bad news is that will still be on the books for one more season. They could buy out the contract, but that won’t be explored until at least the trade deadline. The team has shown that they would buy a player out to let them play on a contending team (Marvin Williams and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist).
Players with Non-Guaranteed Contracts: (3)
- Devonte’ Graham- $1,663,861 (one non-guaranteed and one qualifying/restricted year left after 2020-21)
- Caleb Martin- $1,517,981 (two non-guaranteed and one qualifying/restricted year left after 2020-21)
- Jalen McDaniels- $1,517,981 (two non-guaranteed and one qualifying/restricted year left after 2020-21)
Guaranteeing Devonte’s contract for the next season is a no-brainer and his qualifying offer of $2.08 million for 2021-2022 is just as automatic. Graham has a very good chance of winning the most improved player award this season and has the best team friendly contract in the league for someone who produces.
Martin and McDaniels has shown promise in their minutes over the last few weeks and in Greensboro (G-League) so they should at least get their contracts picked up for next season.
Players with Qualifying Offers: (1)
- Dwayne Bacon- $2,023,150
Not to say that Bacon doesn’t have talent, or he can’t play in the league because he can. But he hasn’t shown in his three years in the league that he is full-time starter. He’s had chances and hasn’t taken advantage of them. This year as a starter he’s shooting 33% from the floor, a full 3.5% lower than as a reserve (He’s taken 14 more shots as reserve).
The Hornets got a breakout season from one of their guards, but it was Graham instead of Bacon. With a $2 million option, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to give him one more season.