Every small market team in the NBA goes through windows of opportunity. The window to win for the Charlotte Hornets is right now. They have a future superstar in LaMelo Ball, yet have not been active in efforts to improve the roster around him this offseason.
The frustration within the fan base isn't just in response to the upcoming season, but for the future as well. A front office that sits on its hands and banks on building organically through the draft is not going to please an up-and-coming star who wants to win.
There needs to be a clear plan moving forward that enables Ball to win in the Queen City. An aging, injury-prone Gordon Hayward and Terry Rozier aren't enough to take this team to the next level. P.J. Washington is primed to have a bigger influence on the floor but again, it's not enough.
I'm not suggesting that GM Mitch Kupchak should make a desperate move and give up a king's ransom for Donovan Mitchell. Let's start with finding a quality backup point guard. Kemba Walker comes to mind. Isaiah Thomas is still out there along with Dennis Schröder and Avery Bradley. Solidifying that position will allow Terry Rozier to focus on playing off-ball and not forcing James Bouknight into playing the point.
In order for the Hornets to advance in the Eastern Conference standings and avoid the Play-In tournament, they have to make some moves. Expecting virtually the same team plus a couple of rookies and potentially minus Miles Bridges to make that jump is wishful thinking. This isn't a situation where you've got 2-3 young stars who are going to make this team better as they grow older and gain more experience. JT Thor, Jalen McDaniels, James Bouknight, Mark Williams, and Bryce McGowens are solid prospects that could turn into good role players. Are they the type you can build a franchise around? Maybe, maybe not. Are they guys you can count on to help this team make that jump to the top six this season? No.
LaMelo appears to be very happy in Charlotte but when it comes time to enter contract negotiations, the Hornets have to have a plan in place that is attractive enough for the young guard to see that he doesn't have to go elsewhere to reach the pinnacle of the NBA. If the Hornets fail to do so, they'll be back to square one and have a bleak future.
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