Should the Charlotte Hornets Trade Jeremy Lamb?

Apr 6, 2016; New York, NY, USA; Charlotte Hornets shooting guard Jeremy Lamb (3) drives against New York Knicks shooting guard Arron Afflalo (4) during the second quarter at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 6, 2016; New York, NY, USA; Charlotte Hornets shooting guard Jeremy Lamb (3) drives against New York Knicks shooting guard Arron Afflalo (4) during the second quarter at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports /

Jeremy Lamb had an up and down season for the Charlotte Hornets and he has potential, but could the team trade him this off-season to free up some cap space?

Coming off of a season that had the Carolinas’ buzzing, (sorry I couldn’t resist), the Charlotte Hornets face what will be the most important off-season in franchise history. This past season the Charlotte Hornets enjoyed more success than they have ever had during the new era of Charlotte Basketball. Their 48 regular season wins then led to 3 wins in the playoffs before their heartbreaking exit in Game 7 to  Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat.

At the beginning of the season many experts predicted that the Hornets would struggle to eclipse the 30 win mark, but the team would end up winning 30 games at home alone. After shocking the world and even many fans with their tremendous success the Hornets have many difficult personnel decisions ahead as they try to improve the team, while also keeping the players who made this dream season a reality with their hard work and determination.

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One question that is overlooked among the many free agents the Hornets must re-sign, is what should the Charlotte Hornets do with Jeremy Lamb? Jeremy Lamb is coming off of ho-hum season that started off with a bang, and ended in playing spot minutes in certain matchups and even the dreaded garbage time minutes.

The Hornets were obviously excited about trading for Jeremy Lamb in the off-season because he was locked up with a 3 year $21 million dollar extension on November 2nd, after only 3 games had been played in the regular season. Unfortunately, November would be the high point for Jeremy Lamb’s season.

During the 15 games played in November, Lamb averaged 12.9 ppg and 5.3 rpg on 52% shooting from the field and 34% from behind the arc. These numbers led many fans and myself to praise Cho and company for locking up a dynamite bench scorer for a very reasonable $7 mil a year right before the new television deal skyrockets salaries.

The only problem is in only two of the five months that followed did Lamb shoot over 30% from deep (never passing 33.3%) and in only one of those months did he shoot over 42% from the field.

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Jeremy certainly passes the eye test of a valuable NBA role player with endless length, smooth game, and enticing YouTube highlights. Unfortunately, the truth of the matter is that outside of November, Jeremy Lamb was a below average player who still coasts on potential rather than production.

Now that we have covered Jeremy Lamb’s first season in purple and teal we can look forward to how he fits into the Hornets’ plans long-term. The $7 million a year that he will make is still a very reasonable contract when compared with what other players of his caliber will be making next year.

This means that holding on to Jeremy would certainly not be a bad thing, even if his production lags behind his potential, but it also means that he could be an easy player to move. But why would we move him if he has a reasonable contract and the potential to produce like his “November Numbers” suggest? The answer is priorities.

Right now the Hornets have Nic Batum, Jeremy Lin, Al Jefferson, Marvin Williams, Courtney Lee, and Troy Daniels hitting free agency (and minimum players Jorge Gutierrez and Tyler Hansbrough). The first five players on that list are bigger priorities to the team than Lamb is, and you could make an argument for Troy Daniels being able to fill Lamb’s role more efficiently and for a cheaper price than Lamb himself.

While it looks like the team will keep Nic Batum for a near max salary, they must still account for the raises Marvin Williams, Jeremy Lin, and Courtney Lee earned themselves this year, and this doesn’t even include the money we might dish out to Al Jefferson.

If by some miracle the Hornets can go into next season with the same roster as this season and a healthy MKG, a role for Jeremy Lamb will not be guaranteed. Batum, Lin, Courtney Lee, and Troy Daniels (who shot 48% from deep) all take up minutes at the wing, so Lamb will most likely spend time as an undersized 3 behind MKG.

Even without MKG, Coach Steve Clifford turned to Marvin Williams over Lamb for minutes at the 3 when important games were on the line. All of these factors make it hard to find a role for Jeremy Lamb if more important players are retained and contribute for the Hornet’s logjam on the wing.

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While Jeremy Lamb at $7 million is perfectly fine by me, that money would be better used to make sure we retain a more reliable known commodity like 3 and D stud Marvin Williams or second unit playmaker Jeremy Lin. Getting the band back together should be what the Hornets aim for this off-season, even if it means trading the underachieving, full of upside, Jeremy Lamb for an unguaranteed contract or draft picks to create the cap space to make this happen.