Charlotte Hornets: Four Key Decisions that Changed the Course of the Franchise

Charlotte Hornets Cody Zeller. Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Charlotte Hornets Cody Zeller. Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /
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Charlotte Hornets
Charlotte Hornets Nicolas Batum. (Photo by Kent Smith/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Signing Nicolas Batum

Charlotte is in the second to last year of a whopping, five year, $120 million commitment made to forward, Nicolas Batum. The France native is making upwards of $25 million this season and has posted a disappointing stat line of 3.6 points and 4.5 boards a game on 35% shooting from the field.

Arguably, this contract is the main reason why the Hornets have been defined by 35 win seasons since 2016.

The summer of 2016 is undoubtedly one of the odder ones in NBA history. To clarify, the league had reached an extremely lucrative TV deal with several major networks the previous season, which set up an unprecedented cap spike for the infamous summer in question. Many teams learned the hard way that just because cap space is available does not mean it needs to be spent in one sitting.

While Batum was coming off of an impressive stretch of seasons in Portland, giving the forward a max contract was still questionable at the time. Batum himself even admitted that he has not been worth that kind of money. Of the eight four or five year max contracts that were given out that summer, Batum’s contract has arguably been the most disappointing.

In channeling an inner ‘Captain Hindsight,’ zagging when a majority of teams were zigging would have been a forward-thinking idea for a franchise that needed to try some weird tactics. Due to this spending spree, not many teams had max cap space in the following two summers.

Punting on the 2016-2017 season, getting a top-flight draft pick, and then using that money to build around Kemba Walker and company the following summer would’ve been an interesting path for the front office to take.

Cleaning up on underpaid role players or flashing big money at proven stars such as Paul Millsap or Jrue Holiday would’ve made the summer of 2017 interesting.

The Batum contract has greatly limited the team’s ability to add talent. Coming off a 48 win season in the 2015-2016 season, the money could’ve been more well spent. Perhaps Walker commits to Buzz City long-term last summer if the team was not hindered so greatly by a foolish decision three years earlier.