Three Offseason Certainties for the Charlotte Hornets

Charlotte Hornets Huddle Copyright 2020 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
Charlotte Hornets Huddle Copyright 2020 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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Charlotte Hornets
Charlotte Hornets Mitch Kupchak (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

Mitch Kupchak will Continue to Transform Charlotte Basketball

Perhaps the most important man concerning Charlotte Basketball, Mitch Kupchak has become a Godsend to the Hornets fanbase.

Since being hired in April 2018, Mitch has seemingly worked a miracle with a cap-strapped low confidence team and has done so with under the radar draft selections as well as sound free agency moves. Which honestly is something the Charlotte Hornets have never had consistently.

Charlotte currently employs six players that have remained from the old regime (Bismack Biyombo, Cody Zeller, Nicolas Batum, Willy Hernangomez, Malik Monk, and Dwayne Bacon) to the seven major contracts (Terry Rozier, PJ Washington, Miles Bridges, Devonte’ Graham, Cody, and Caleb Martin, and Jalen McDaniels) given by Kupchak.

There is a widespread belief that each player attained before the 2018 season could be released as soon as their contracts allow. Of the six players, three (Biyombo, Hernangomez, Bacon) have contracts (approximately $20,295,255 this season) that will be concluded after the 2019-20 season while the remaining 3 contracts (Zeller, Batum, Monk) will expire after the following season (approximately $47,891,851 coming off the cap in 2021).

As a fan of Charlotte, one can obviously see that the six players aren’t being let go just because they weren’t selected or signed by Kupchak himself. Their current play has not warranted the team to want to keep them when other options can be explored.

Food for Thought:

At the center position, Zeller has remained serviceable when healthy but doesn’t significantly impact a game on either end of the court, and Biyombo’s offensive shortcomings limit the new offensive scheme of having players who can shoot from anywhere.

With that knowledge and confirmed reports that Charlotte has explored improving the position, going as far as offering Willie Cauley-Stein a contract this previous offseason, it is safe to say that Charlotte will continue to look to improve the position. Especially when two of the three centers will enter free agency (Cauley-Stein potentially still being a target).

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Only considering his history in Charlotte, Kupchak’s record as a talent evaluator has been amazing as well as the key to its success (only Arnoldas Kulboka, 22, has yet to make an impact, which could change if he makes an impression in next year’s summer league).

With Graham, Rozier, Washington, Bridges, the Martin twins, and McDaniels leading the rebuild, the excitement has returned to Charlotte. Once thought to be a lost season, 2020 has been a year of improvement and surprise for a young team looking for a new identity.

Amazingly, each player that Kupchak has acquired has proven their worth in what could be a shortened NBA season. With Bridges winning the Rising Stars MVP trophy, Graham making a strong case for the NBA’s Most Improved Player, and the four rookies that have all cracked the rotation, Kupchak has managed to build a solid foundation in only a year’s time.

Thus, creating solid footing for a rebuild that could possibly achieve its goal to enter the postseason. And with Kupchak’s plan of not chasing overpriced players in the upcoming free agency, two years of building the young core’s chemistry while collecting cap space could do wonders in the 2021-22 season.

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With additional pieces to be added, namely a center and shooting guard, the Hornets and Kupchak will continue to fight and surprise a league full of stars and challenges. And with it’s current General Manager/President of Basketball Operations, the way of salvation appears closer than anticipated.