Are the Hornets spinning their wheels?

Publish date:

Summer ’16 is a wild one in the NBA. Teams are shuffling players as if they are playing cards in a feverish game of Solitaire. While teams like the Golden State Warriors appear to be stacking the deck, less fortunate franchises like the Charlotte Hornets seem to be merely swapping out their 8 of Spades for an 8 of Clubs. There are several new faces, but the outlook appears roughly the same.

The current state of the Association is pretty simple: the rich are getting richer, the poor are remaining in poverty and the middle class is attempting to move toward one of those initial two directions. After all, if you’re dealt a terrible hand, it can sometimes make more sense to fold and reshuffle the deck entirely.

Unless you’re the Hornets, apparently. General Manager Rich Cho and the Charlotte Hornets appear firmly entrenched in the NBA’s ever-unpleasant and strongly detested “middle ground”. Let’s review the current state of the Hornets in the context of Cho’s recent roster adjustments, and what it all means for the Charlotte’s future.

The Kings trade Marco Belinelli to the Hornets for the 22nd overall pick in the draft. I’m still scratching my head on this one. Additional thoughts here.

Nicolas Batum agrees to five-year, $120 million deal to stay with Hornets. This had to be done. Is Batum worth $24 million a year? I don’t know. But the Hornets simply could not risk losing their most important player not named Kemba.

Marvin Williams agrees to four-year, $54.5 million deal to stay with Hornets. You aren’t going to jump out of your seat in raw jubilation very often due to anything Williams does on the court. But that’s ok. He’s one of the most reliable all around veterans in the game and posted very similar numbers to Harrison Barnes last season, who is receiving double the salary as Williams.

Ramon Sessions agrees to two-year, $12.5 million deal with Hornets. Mr. Sessions is back for his third stint in Charlotte in the last four seasons. I have nothing against Sessions, but as a replacement for Jeremy Lin in the primary backup point guard spot, he simply doesn’t possess enough offensive juice to fill the void. Sessions is like the Honda Accord of NBA point guards. Nothing too exciting, but will get the job done. I would have rather seen a guy like Brandon Jennings fill this spot, as Jennings possesses much more of a scoring threat, is 4 years younger and signed for less money to join the Knicks.

Roy Hibbert agrees to one-year, $5 million deal with Hornets. Just three years ago, Hibbert averaged 22 points, over 10 boards and 1 block, while shooting 56% from the field in an exhilarating seven-game Eastern Conference Finals. Despite losing the series to the Miami Heat, it appeared the 26-year-old center from Georgetown had taken huge steps forward at the time. Hibbert has mysteriously fallen off the map since then, never averaging over 11 points per game, and posting career lows in points per game and field goals made last season in Los Angeles. He isn’t the player he was a few years ago, but surely has more fuel in the tank as he looks to revive his career in Charlotte.

Key losses:

Jeremy Lin agrees to three-year, $36 million deal with the Brooklyn Nets. This one stings a bit. I was slow to jump on the Charlotte version of “Linsanity” this past season, but the 27-year-old Harvard grad was a perfect spark plug off the bench and provided endless late-game heroics. Backcourt scoring will be a struggle when Kemba is on the bench.

Courtney Lee agrees to four-year, $50 million deal with the New York Knicks. Probably doesn’t deserve Eric Gordon money, but the thinning out of the Charlotte Hornets backcourt will be an ongoing storyline as we head into the 2016-17 season.

Al Jefferson agrees to three-year, $30 million deal with the Indiana Pacers. Perhaps the biggest void of all will be the one left by Jefferson – both literally and figuratively. The center is on the wrong side of 30 and has played in fewer games each year since joining the Hornets in 2013, but his inside scoring will still be missed. Head coach Steve Clifford likes playing the inside-out style as he did as an assistant in Orlando with Dwight Howard. One problem: you don’t have Dwight Howard, or Al Jefferson for that matter. With the most formidable inside scoring threat being a second-year player, it could be challenging for the Hornets 3-point shooters to find much space.

In other news:

Frank’s getting fatter! Coach Clifford has recently been quoted saying the 7-footer from Wisconsin is up to 251 pounds, which is about 20 pounds heavier than Kaminsky’s rookie year weight. Must be all of the sweet tea.

Christopher Kreider | @krydr1