The Charlotte Hornets have drafted well and appear to have their point guard and center of the future. LaMelo Ball and Mark Williams may not have spent much time on the court together, but their individual play has fans buzzing. But other than the bookends, what will the franchise do to address the rest of its roster?
There’s an elephant in the room when it comes to the Charlotte Hornets wing depth conversation and it’s the decision awaiting the team regarding the future of Miles Bridges. The wingman was arrested in June of last year after assaulting the mother of his children. After coming off a career year where he set highs in points (20.2), rebounds (7.0), and assists (3.8), he was set to reap the benefits as a restricted free agent. When his value was at its highest, in the offseason before he agreed to another contract with the Hornets, he ran afoul of the law.
Now the Charlotte Hornets find themselves in a unique situation. Bridges was likely the only player outside of LaMelo Ball they would’ve considered a foundational piece for the future. His rise as a basketball player was perfect, coming along and hitting his stride as Ball and the franchise looked to improve. He had developed a rapport with Ball, and his ball-handling had unlocked him as a scorer that didn’t need to be set up.
He increased his drives to the cup and got to the line over four times a game—a career-high. From a pure basketball point of view, having an explosive athlete that could play multiple positions on defense and a career 34.6% three-point percentage is a clear win for a team that really struggled to defend and score.
The nature of Bridges’ crime will likely give the team pause about whether they want to sign the talented wing player. Because the franchise has chosen to remain quiet besides mentioning that they were aware of both his arrest and announced punishment, it’s hard to fathom that they wouldn’t attempt to re-sign him. They had an entire season to distance themselves from Bridges formally but refused to do so.
Having Bridges will be positive from a basketball point of view, but there could be fallout from the fan’s point of view. A franchise, that was 23rd in attendance this season, doesn’t need to alienate its customers. Particularly one that may be sold by the owner soon. If they do bring him back, he’ll be a prominent member of the team. There is no middle ground with the decision.