When Will the Front Office Commit to a Rebuild?
The Hornets are fortunate their owner is only receiving attention for his playing career during Last Dance mania, because Charlotte’s future under Michael Jordan remains as murky as ever. The Hornets appeared ready to move forward in a big way last summer by not offering Kemba Walker a full max contract, paving the way for him to sign with the Celtics. (Though if Charlotte had planned on that strategy for a while, why not try to trade Walker for something during his final season?) Walker’s departure was compounded by the head-scratching move of signing Terry Rozier to a three-year deal soon after. Charlotte was finally getting close to ridding itself of high-priced vets who don’t move the needle, why bring in another one, particularly when he won’t be paired with any top-end talent?
Moving forward, Charlotte needs to genuinely turn the page from the Kemba years into a fuller-scale rebuild. Rozier hasn’t been horrible, but his presence also takes away opportunities from guys like Devonte’ Graham and Malik Monk, who are younger, cheaper, and arguably have more potential. (Graham especially was having a nice season, while Monk—a former lottery pick—still needs some seasoning.)
Charlotte is fortunate it will only have one more year each of Cody Zeller and Nicolas Batum, neither of whom are useless players but aren’t necessarily serving a purpose in their current roles. With the books starting to clear up, and a homegrown star long gone, the runway is finally clear for the Hornets to commit to a youth movement. The issue is the front office, which hasn’t always made sound long-term decisions in the past.
The amount of losing here has to be frustrating. Entering this season, Charlotte had only made the playoffs once in five seasons. But until the front office is willing to build this team on a solid foundation from the ground up, it’s hard to see how the level of success changes there any time soon.