Charlotte Hornets Free Agency Preview

Mar 29, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Charlotte Hornets guard Nicolas Batum (5) in action against the Philadelphia 76ers at Wells Fargo Center. The Charlotte Hornets won 100-85. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 29, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Charlotte Hornets guard Nicolas Batum (5) in action against the Philadelphia 76ers at Wells Fargo Center. The Charlotte Hornets won 100-85. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports /

With free agency just around the corner, the Charlotte Hornets will have a very busy offseason in front of them as they look to get better during the summer.

It is that time of year again in the NBA when teams search for pieces to add to their teams via free agency. Unlike the NFL, where free agency does not necessarily mean more wins, the NBA playoff teams are usually built through free agency.

Being honest, almost every team in the NBA is built through free agency whether it be good or bad signings. Even after teams draft well they still need to add pieces in free agency to compete at a high level. We are going to take a look at how things shape up for the Charlotte Hornets in free agency.

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Salary Cap

The NBA cap is increasing from $70 million last season to $94 million this season according to More good news for the Charlotte Hornets is that they currently have the fifth lowest team salary total at $38,830,763 going into the 2016-2017 season according to

However, they currently have -$21,743,182 in cap space according to Before you panic though you have to remember that we have a massive amount of cap holds from players who are currently free agents. These players can be renounced and the cap space will come back into the positive side around $50 million. Also, a player who signs elsewhere will disappear as a cap hold as well.

It is very confusing and there is a reason why people have jobs to keep track of each team’s cap situation. Being honest, I may be off a little as well. Either way though the Hornets will have a good amount of cap space to sign players. If a trade occurs that sends out Spencer Hawes or Jeremy Lamb or even both of them without returning much cap back to the Hornets then the team could have even more space to sign players.

This is actually one of the best free agency periods for the Hornets in terms of cap space they could end up with. Sadly though this is because over half the team from last season became free agents.

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Who Do We Bring Back

Remember how I said the Hornets had a good amount of cap space? Watch it vanish magically when they sign Nicolas Batum to a five-year deal worth $26.6 million a year for a length of five years. Though it may seem like overpaying him you have to remember the NBA cap has increased meaning players will be getting paid more than usual. Is the signing of Batum a done deal? No it is not but people have spotted him house hunting in Charlotte, NC.

He could easily change his mind and go to another team. It seems likely though in my opinion that he stays put with the Hornets and I am giving it a 70% chance he stays. Batum could leave though because just as I am writing this up reports are coming out about him meeting with the Dallas Mavericks once free agency begins.

I will keep my original thoughts in the article so you can see which way I was leaning before this recent news but I will lower my chances down to a 50% chance he stays with the Hornets. If the Hornets miss out on re-signing Batum then consider this free agency a failure because the Hornets have made him priority number one. (Oh life as a Hornets’ fan)

Another name that has been mentioned is Marvin Williams. According to multiple reports the Hornets would like to bring back Williams if they can. Many people enjoyed watching him play last season but seem to forget how comfortable he was (played poorly) in his first season with the Hornets. Overpaying Williams could have a worse effect than letting him go would. It is about a 70% chance that the Hornets bring back Williams though. Hopefully they do not overpay him to do so.

Troy Daniels is probably coming back as the Hornets extended a qualifying offer to him yesterday. I put his chances of coming back to the Hornets at 80%. Sadly I think the other free agents for the Hornets sign with other teams. Al Jefferson could sign with another team or he may come back to the Hornets on a cheaper deal. The chances of Jefferson re-signing with the Hornets is a 30% chance. The rest of the free agents are at about a 20% chance of re-signing with the Hornets.

Any Trades Involving The Hornets

Even though I bashed the Hornets for the Marco Belinelli trade, they could make things better by unloading Hawes or Lamb. The likelihood of moving both players in a trade or trades is slim though. If the team could part ways with Hawes and not take as much cap back it would be a win for them. It is actually likely they move one of these players to free up around $3-4 million in space. Outside of that I do not see any other trades being made.

What New Faces Could Be On The Hornets’ Radar

After making a trade and signing Batum, Williams, and Daniels the team will probably be left with around $14 million in cap space. That could be enough to bring in a back up point guard like Mario Chalmers. Chalmers is coming off a bad injury but could be a solid back up behind Walker while also coming at a cheap price. The $14 million in cap space could also be enough to bring in a center like Ian Mahinmi. Mahinmi plays solid defense and is a great rebounder. He seems to fit into the scheme that Steve Clifford likes to run.

Personally I would rather see the Hornets let Williams go to add more cap space which in turn would allow the Hornets to add more pieces. We currently have two power forwards in Cody Zeller and Frank Kaminsky so adding Williams seems pointless. Zeller and Kaminsky need more time if the Hornets plan on developing them. I will list a few more names to be on the lookout for and they are as follows:

-PG: Ty Lawson (could come cheap but seems redundant backing up Kemba Walker)

-PG: Matthew Dellavedova (would be a solid back up to Walker)

-PG: Ishmael Smith (very good back up but redundant backing up Walker)

-PG: Norris Cole (potential to be a good back up for Walker)

-SF: Gerald Green (back up for MKG possibly if they trade Jeremy Lamb)

-SF: Jordan Hamilton (back up for MKG possibly if they trade Jeremy Lamb)

-SF: James Ennis (depth at SF)

-SF: Cleanthony Early (depth at SF)

-C: Festus Ezeli (will be more expensive but is younger than Mahinmi)

-C: Donatas Motiejunas (still young enough to get better)

-C: Henry Sims (depth signing)

What Could The Final Depth Chart Look Like After Free Agency

The final roster will be filled with a few new faces and some familiar ones as well. I will not place names into the prediction for free agents because there are too many variables to consider. Of course this is my prediction and could be far off from the truth so take it with a grain of salt. My prediction for the Hornets depth chart after free agency is as follows:

Next: Nic Batum Will Meet With the Dallas Mavericks

PG: Kemba Walker/(Free Agent)/(Free Agent)

SG: Nicolas Batum/Marco Belinelli/(Free Agent)

SF: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist/Jeremy Lamb/(Free Agent)

PF: Marvin Williams/Frank Kaminsky/Cody Zeller

C: (Free Agent)/Cody Zeller/(Free Agent)/(Free Agent)