Is it time for the Charlotte Hornets to move on from Cody Zeller?

Charlotte Hornets Cody Zeller. (Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images)
Charlotte Hornets Cody Zeller. (Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images) /

With the 2020 off-season looming, many uncertainties cloud the future of the Charlotte Hornets. Is Cody Zeller one of those uncertainties?

When you think of the Charlotte Hornets, you think of greats like Kemba Walker, Larry Johnson, Muggsy Bogues, and Dell Curry, and with good reason. One name many most likely wouldn’t list is Cody Zeller and that’s a bit of a shame considering his tenure with the team.

He is currently in his seventh season in Charlotte. What may come as a shock to some, is that he’s seventh in team history in games played and is just eleven games from tying Marvin Williams for sixth. Should he stay on the roster for next season, he will most likely pass Michael Kidd-Gilchrist for fifth and if healthy, could pass Gerald Wallace for fourth.

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That brings up the ultimate question, though: Will he be on the roster next season?

Charlotte drafted Zeller fourth overall in the 2013 NBA Draft and there were those that questioned the pick at the time. He was a very solid player at Indiana, winning a handful of accolades and a conference championship in his sophomore season. Yet, there were those that thought the then Bobcats were reaching and in hindsight, maybe they were.

Given that they passed on names like Giannis Antetokounmpo, CJ McCollum, and Rudy Gobert, it would now appear that Cody wasn’t the best pick. Of course, hindsight is always 20/20, but as much of a fixture Zeller has been over the years, Charlotte could have done better. That’s not the first time we’ve heard that conversation, is it?

So, what does the team do now? Zeller is set to make a little over $15 million next season. After that, he will become an unrestricted free agent, meaning he’s free to sign with anyone who will offer him. He’s likely not going to make the money he made here in Charlotte, so should the Hornets consider trading him before his contract expires?

Ideally, that would be the way to go, but what value does he have? For his career, he’s averaged just nine points a game and just under seven rebounds. His game from beyond the arc hasn’t exactly developed, either, making just 24% from deep in Charlotte.

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Yes, he’s been a stalwart for the Hornets for years and has developed into a prominent feature in the pick-and-roll game that the team still utilizes. He’s had his fair share of injuries, though, and will be turning 28 this year. So, the time may be now if the Hornets want to get anything from him at all.

It’s a shame because Cody has been a consummate professional. Talent and ability aside, he’s been the kind of player a coach dreams of. He keeps his head down, does his job as best he can, and while he doesn’t stuff the stat sheet, he is more than willing to do all the little things that help a team win games.

Whether they can trade him or not, it will still be bittersweet if and when he does leave. There probably aren’t a lot of people out there wearing Cody Zeller jerseys, but any Hornets fan knows how much he has dedicated to this organization.

As with any player, there’s a lot of out his control and while he didn’t put up the numbers you’d hope a fourth overall pick would, he’s certainly played with heart and tried to do his best for the team.

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Unfortunately, that might not be enough anymore. The NBA can be a cutthroat business at times and after seven years, the team has most likely seen all they’ll see of him. A change of scenery might be good for both parties and if a contending team wants a solid post presence off the bench, Cody could fill that role nicely. Either way, he’ll always be a large part of Charlotte Hornets history