The only things happening at Time Warner Cable Arena in uptown Charlotte these days are R. Kelly concerts and job fairs. Home to the Charlotte Hornets, the facility is traditionally desolate in May and June, aside from a handful of performances by boy bands or 50-year-old R&B singers. Hornets general manager Rich Cho will look to change TWC Arena’s 2017 Spring and Summer event calendar with the upcoming NBA draft and free agency period. Below are a few headlines trending about the Hornets, as well as some additional draft buzz.
1. The pre-draft workouts of playmakers Tyler Ulis (Kentucky) and Anthony “Cat” Barber (NC State) could indicate the Hornets doing some preliminary due diligence in the event of Jeremy Lin’s departure. Lin is expected to decline his $2.2 million player option and become an unrestricted free agent.
2. The exciting point guard with the crazy hair has gone on the record expressing his interest to return to Charlotte next season, stating that he was not as happy in his first five years in the league as he was this past season in North Carolina. As told to the Taipei Times and reported by Bleacher Report, Lin goes on to explain what his criteria will be in making his free agency decision. “Of course I am going to consider who is coaching the team, the team’s style, the players on the team and their chance of winning, as well as the on-court time I have and if I have a chance to start.”
3. Oh. So Jeremy Lin wants to start now? That last point stands out like Betty White at a 2 Chainz concert, as he has previously seemed content as head coach Steve Clifford’s top bench weapon. Unless Clifford decides to downsize and shift Lin to shooting guard, it is unlikely he will break the starting five in Charlotte.
4. As noted by Fansided, the draft day decisions will ultimately dictate how the Hornets handle the Lin situation. “Names that have been linked to the Hornets include 7’1 sensation Thon Maker, and 6’10 underclassmen talent Diamond Stone (Maryland). If Charlotte does go in that direction, we’ll know they may be shifting their free agency focus towards perimeter players like Jeremy Lin and Courtney Lee.”
5. Question: What was missing from the Hornets season that resulted in the third-highest win total in the Eastern Conference? Answer: Just Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, the athletic swingman who is arguably Charlotte’s best defender when healthy. After recovering from a right shoulder injury, the Charlotte Observer is reporting MKG will be ready to rumble when the 2016-17 season commences.
6. After playing in 78 games his rookie year, Kidd-Gilchrist has struggled to stay on the court, suiting up for just 50% of the Hornets games over the past three seasons. This is obviously skewed due to his seven-game total last year, but injuries may always be a risk for a relentless player like MKG, who is permanently on overdrive. Assuming Nicolas Batum sticks around, Steve Clifford may decide to shift Kidd-Gilchrist down to shooting guard, with Batum filling the small forward role. This would give MKG a distinct size advantage versus most opposing two-guards, and lighten the physical toll he takes night in and night out.
Several roster adjustments are expected between now and the start of the 2016-17 season. If the Hornets brass is able to pull the correct strings this offseason, and build upon their winningest season in 15 years, then Time Warner Cable Arena may be an electrifying place next Spring. If not… well, there’s always the Carrie Underwood concert.
Christopher Kreider | @krydr1