Charlotte Hornets: Why do we keep overpaying in free agency?

The Charlotte Hornets have quite a reputation for overpaying for players, and this summer we did it again. Why does the organization make the same mistakes?

The Charlotte Hornets have had some of the worst signings in NBA history.

A brief history of the Hornets worst signings

Firstly, Charlotte signed Lance Stephenson to a three-year, $27 million dollar contract. Stephenson just had a career year for the Pacers and averaged an efficient 13 points and seven rebounds before coming to Swarm City and see his numbers greatly shrink.

According to Forbes, the average NBA salary following Stephenson’s career year was $4.9 million dollars per season. At the time that was for average players, which Stephenson definitely was.

For the Hornets to pay Stephenson about double what he was worth is one of the worst signings in the team’s history in the last decade.

After two productive seasons with the Hornets, averaging 11 points and seven rebounds as a starter, Marvin Williams was resigned to a massive contract that the team finally rid itself of this last season.

Williams was extended was nearly $55 million for four years and he proceeded to stay stagnant with his skills. Even though Williams 41 percent from three under his new contract, he only averaged nine points and never saw the production he once had.

The signing gave Williams nearly $14 million dollars per year, which eclipsed the league average of a little over $6 million at the time. Williams’ averages seemed to be nothing but an average roleplayer but earned enough money to where he was barely out of the NBA’s Top-50 for that season.

Finally, I have to mention the newly-departed Nicolas Batum. He was traded to Charlotte after playing talented basketball before Batum was resigned to a massive contract for a handful of years.

Batum was signed to a five-year, $120 million dollar contract which put him at 26th among the highest-paid players for the 2016 season. Now, looking at the All-Star names below Batum on the NBA’s top-50, it’s an obvious eye roll moment to look back on for the franchise.

Now, why does the Charlotte Hornets franchise overpay for players?

Ultimately, I think it to be poetic that Charlotte Hornets have begun to overpay players following the cheapness of the franchise throughout the 90’s and the early-2000’s.

In this 2001 article by Chris Przybyszewski of the Memphis Flyer, Przybyszewski talks about the criticism made by the city about 90’s owner George Shinn.

“Faithful or not, Shinn has been repeatedly criticized in Charlotte for being a cheapskate when it comes to player salaries. Some of the franchise’s biggest names, including Glen Rice, Alonzo Mourning, and Vlade Divac left because Shinn wouldn’t pay the going rates. Shinn’s most famous player mistake was the trade in 1996 that sent Kobe Bryant to the L.A. Lakers for Vlade Divac — straight up. In February 1999 Sports Illustrated urged Shinn to sell the team because his “stinginess has destroyed the franchise.”

I would love to tell you guys that the Hornets currently overpay because of the lack of pay the franchise would commit to a winning tradition in the 90’s but that just isn’t true.

The real reason the Hornets overpay is that they understand how relevant a basketball team can be in dominant in the Charlotte area. The Charlotte area loves basketball and North Carolina is one of the richest basketball states in the country.

Signing Gordon Hayward has pros and cons as it will give the team the best roster they’ve ever had arguably, but we still overpaid for the one-time former All-Star. This signing cannot be determined as horrible until we see how productive Hayward can be in the Queen City.

Regardless, Charlotte has been vastly overpaying players for years and it’s tough to continue to watch the team do so. But it looks like the team is turning a leaf away from signing mediocre players for a contract out of their value. Hayward is still a talented and skilled player and while yes, he is overpaid, he is far from mediocre.