Five Free Agency Fits for the Charlotte Hornets Next Summer

Mandatory Credit: Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports /

As the NBA community looks ahead to next summer, who are the top five potential free agents that could join the Charlotte Hornets next offseason?

With this summer’s free agency festivities over, it’s time to start looking towards next year’s class. These rankings are based on fit with the Charlotte Hornets’ current roster, probability of the player leaving his current team, and potential salary considerations. Keep in mind that the best fit is not always the best player(s) available, so this isn’t a ranking of the top five available free agents-to-be, but the top five for Buzz City.

5. J.J. Redick

The long-time sharpshooter will be an unrestricted free agent and would bring stability to the two-guard position in Charlotte. He fits the mold of knockdown shooter that doesn’t need the ball to affect the game, a necessary piece with Kemba Walker and Nicolas Batum controlling the ball so much. In addition, Redick has improved his defense to the point where he’s no longer a liability.

He nails every rotation, knows the gameplan and compensates for lack of athleticism by beating his man to the spot. Plus, Charlotte shot and made the fourth-most threes, and can get even better with the leader in three-point percentage from last season.

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4. Nerlens Noel

The Kentucky alum came into the league with much fanfare, but hasn’t experienced the success of former Kentucky bigs Anthony Davis, Demarcus Cousins and Karl Anthony-Towns. That’s due to injury and playing in a frontcourt logjam full of lottery picks, something that will worsen with the additions of Ben Simmons and 2014 first-round pick Dario Saric. The Sixers may let Noel walk thanks to that flux of talent, despite having the right to match any offer on him as a restricted free agent.

If the Hibbert experiment fails, Noel is a young budding defensive player of the year candidate with the foot speed to guard one through five. He’s one of two players who averaged both 1.5 blocks and steals per game last season, the other being Paul Milsap. He could grow with the rest of the relatively young core Charlotte has assembled.

3. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

KCP has grown in all facets of his game in his three years in Detroit. Despite his sweet shooting stroke, his three-point percentage dipped last season to 30 percent. Caldwell-Pope played over 36 minutes for the Pistons last season and is an athletic two-guard with a high motor and good defensive instincts.

He’s another player at the end of his rookie deal, with Detroit owning the rights to match any deal another team offers. But with the Pistons trying to take the next step and looking to make another splash, Charlotte could pry Caldwell-Pope away with the right deal. He’s a Courtney Lee three-and-D prototype with a higher ceiling, provided his shooting stroke returns to form this season.

2. Paul Millsap

The three-time all-star will be an unrestricted free agent next summer, and might be looking for a change of scenery. He’d fit in nicely with coach Clifford’s scheme and would complement the current group of Hornets. Nothing he does is spectacular, but he’s fundamentally excellent and can play inside and out on both ends.

Millsap was second team all-defense last season after ranking in the top 10 in both blocks and steals. The 31-year old’s game has aged well and should continued to so as he’s added to his offensive repertoire throughout his career. Millsap has also proved to be durable by playing in under 70 games only once in his 10 year career.

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1. Stephen Curry

Even with the Warriors upgrading their 73-win team with a top three player in the league in Kevin Durant, I couldn’t leave the Charlotte native off of this list. I’m not optimistic in thinking the Hornets can steal away Curry from Golden State, but what I do know is that Charlotte has left the door open if he wants to explore the possibility. Salary wise, the Hornets would likely have to move two of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Marvin Williams and Kemba Walker and not pick up Ramon Sessions’ team option to free up cap space to sign Curry to a max deal.

With Charlotte holding “Dell Curry Night” conveniently on the night the Warriors came to town last season, the Hornets tipped their cards on making a run at the two-time MVP. And why shouldn’t they? Plenty of questions remain: will Steph take meetings next summer?

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And if he does, will he give me his hometown team a meeting, unlike his new teammate Durant? A lot of that will depend on both the Warriors’ and Hornets’ success this season, and if Charlotte can do something that the Wizards could not: provide a good reason for their prodigal son to return home on the basketball court.