The Charlotte Hornets Keep Winning in Free Agency

Oct 29, 2014; Charlotte, NC, USA; The basketball court for the Charlotte Hornets sports the new logo before the opening home game against the Milwaukee Bucks at Time Warner Cable Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 29, 2014; Charlotte, NC, USA; The basketball court for the Charlotte Hornets sports the new logo before the opening home game against the Milwaukee Bucks at Time Warner Cable Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports /

The Charlotte Hornets continue to win in free agency as they re-sign players to team friendly deals and sign free agents to low-risk, high reward contracts.

Although the Charlotte Hornets may not be done in free agency this offseason, they have already won and made some great deals in the process. The team had a difficult task to build on one of their most successful seasons last year. General manager, Rich Cho, and the front office has won each of the last two free agency periods.

The Hornets had a great summer lest year when they signed Jeremy Lin, traded for Nicolas Batum, drafted Frank Kaminsky, and traded for Spencer Hawes and Jeremy Lamb. Those new additions led the team to a 48 win season that saw them tied for the third best record in the Eastern Conference. Each of those moves were under the radar but they ended up making a huge difference.

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Charlotte continued their strong free agency periods this offseason when they made under the radar moves for Marco Belinelli, re-signing Marvin Williams and Nicolas Batum to team friendly deals, and signing Ramon Sessions and Roy Hibbert on the open market. The team will be hoping that these moves have an even bigger impact than last seasons.

It isn’t easy to win in free agency and many teams actually lose. It isn’t common for a team to get better every summer. Only the best franchises can do this continually and the Charlotte Hornets may be on their way to that point.

After numerous failed signing and bad drafting that crumpled the Charlotte franchise for years in the 2000’s, the team finally seems to have gotten their act together. The first move the team made this offseason was trading their first round draft pick for a veteran shooting guard in Marco Belinelli who could help the team spread the floor and replace Courtney Lee in the rotation.

The Hornets also signed their top priority in Nic Batum to a five-year, $120 million contract which may seem like a lot but it is actually less than what a he could have gotten on the open market. Charlotte got away with not offering him the max contract because they had the ability to give him the fifth year on the deal.

A max deal would’ve cost the team $152 million over five seasons. They saved about $6 million a season. Another team could have offered Batum $113 million over four seasons which is only a $7 million difference from the deal he got. That speaks to the franchise and how much Nicolas wanted to stay with the team and the organization.

Charlotte’s front office was not done there, they then re-signed their second priority in Marvin Williams to a four-year, $54.5 million contract. They were able to sign Marvin to an early bird deal which means that they could go over the salary cap to re-sign him.

That was huge because while he will make $12.5 million per year with the Hornets, he could have made $15+ million on the open market from other NBA teams around the league. Williams expressed his interest to return to the team and both sides got a deal done. This was another major win for Charlotte this offseason.

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The Hornets also signed two under the radar free agents in Ramon Sessions and Roy Hibbert. They signed Sessions to a two-year, $12 million deal which should be seen as a bargain contract in today’s NBA. He averaged almost 10 points per game and three assists per game this past season with the Washington Wizards and he will be a valuable back-up point guard and player off of the bench for the team this season.

Charlotte signed Hibbert to a one-year, $5 million contract because of his diminished value after a down season with the Los Angeles Lakers. He could end up starting for the team or at the very least being a valuable back-up center. Either way, his deal should be viewed as a steal and a win for the team.

The main thing that gets lost in free agency is that the Charlotte Hornets’ organization did not overpay anyone. They let Jeremy Lin, Al Jefferson, and Courtney Lee walk because they did not want to pay them big contracts. They also re-signed and signed all of the players that they did to team friendly deals that were not overvalued. Many teams can fall into the trap of paying a player more money than they are actually worth and it could hinder a franchises’ path to success for years to come.

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The Charlotte Hornets’ front office has really turned things around in recent seasons and their success on the court should continue. The team has won in not only this year’s free agency period but also last offseason as well. Many of their moves were under the radar but they could be the deals that push this team to be playoff contenders.