Can Charlotte Keep/Lure Big Name Free Agents?


For small market teams, like the Charlotte Hornets, the main problem and biggest question has always been, can they keep or lure big time free agents?

It is definitely the biggest issue with being a small market team for whatever reasons. It could be player marketability, city’s culture, or just that the player wants to play somewhere else.

If a team drafts a player that turns into a star down the road like Kevin Durant, Anthony Davis, or James Harden the pressing issue always seems to be is if that player is going to leave in free agency. And this is a constant nerve wrecking experience for all fans of NBA teams and for the organization as well. But can small market teams like the Oklahoma City thunder, the New Orleans Pelicans, and the Charlotte Hornets keep their highly touted draftees past their rookie contracts and their restricted free agency, where the team that drafted the players really has control of where the player is to end up.

Can these small market teams sign their star players to multi-million dollar, long-term extensions or will these players leave for a better opportunity to play for a stronger contender or a bigger market such as Los Angeles, New York, and even Houston? Because it has been seen that each of these things can happen to any team. Durant stays with OKC, yet Harden wants out. Davis re-signs with a huge deal in New Orleans.

Looking at the Charlotte Hornets, they have re-signed a pretty big name player to a long extension in Kemba Walker. They signed him to a 4 year-$48 million extension just last season. So Charlotte has been able to lock up some players that want to stay with the team.

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What about when a star player like LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, or even a lesser star in Al Jefferson becomes a free agent? Do teams such as the Charlotte Hornets have a realistic opportunity to land any of these players? Or are small market teams mostly stuck to signing bench or role players in free agency and their only way to the basketball elite is building through the draft?

It has been generalized that only big market teams can keep and land star free agents. That is why there are so many rumors surrounding Kevin Durant and his impending free agency.

But now to take a look at the Charlotte Hornets organization, can they lure or keep big time players?

It has been shown in that Charlotte does have the ability to land big names. Just to take a look at the past few years, the Hornets have landed highly coveted free agents such as Al Jefferson and Lance Stephenson. Now while the Stephenson deal didn’t pan out the way that Charlotte would’ve liked, nevertheless they were able to land one of the biggest targets on the market when they signed him. Jefferson was defiantly a target for a lot of teams when he was a free agent and the Hornets were able to sign him as well. This only becomes more relevant now because of Al Jefferson’s impending free agency this off-season. Will Charlotte want to bring back a 31-year-old with not much upside? That remains to be seen and will probably depend on his performance this season. 

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But also looking ahead to future off-seasons, Charlotte has been able to land some big names in the pasta and are definitely capable of doing so in the near future.

The Hornets General Manager, Rich Cho, was quoted as saying recently that “We’ve seen over the last few years that players want to be here.” He also went as far to say that, “Free agents want to come here.”

Now while this may be true that free agents do what to play in Charlotte, what type of free agents are those? Are they bench players or maybe even at best role players? Or can the team actually land a top-20 player in this league that will help them contend in the Eastern Conference?

There are many factors that could lead into the decision-making of a free agent like if the player wants to play in his hometown, or if the player wants to have marketability in a certain destination, but one thing has been clear, Charlotte can land some pretty big name free agents. Now no team besides a few really ever has a shot at players like LeBron, Durant, or Anthony Davis.

But Charlotte has proven that they can land players like Al Jefferson and Lance Stephenson. Now with Nicolas Batum‘s upcoming free agency, it remains to be seen if he wants to re-sign with the team or jump ship after just one season. It will likely depend on how the season goes for both him and the team. But Charlotte does defiantly have a shot to keep the skilled wingman.

As in terms of the future, Charlotte has shown that the team can keep and sign some big names in free agency and there is no reason to believe that they won’t continue to do so down the road. Only time will tell but the city of Charlotte, North Carolina and the Charlotte Hornets organization definitely has the ability to get above average to somewhat star players in the league and they have also been able to keep reliable draft picks on their team. And as a small market team, there really isn’t much else that you can ask for than to constantly improve and to show that the team has what it takes to get upper level players.