Every offseason, an NBA team has one goal: to improve. The Charlotte Hornets will be no different, especially after missing out on the playoffs for the seventh straight season. The problem is, to improve your roster, you have to make tough decisions.
Perhaps you trade away a fan favorite or decide against bringing a reliable contributor back so that you can free up some additional cap space. Whatever the reasons are, some decisions will never be easy. This summer, the Hornets will have their fair of decisions to make, most notably regarding what direction they want to take in regards to building out their current core.
As such, we can expect some unpopular moves, but as long as we can see those moves are in the best interest of the franchise, we should be able to live with them. With that in mind, here are three tough decisions the Hornets will be forced to make over the summer.
#1 What to do with Gordon Hayward
When the Charlotte Hornets acquired Gordon Hayward in a sign-and-trade that provided the Boston Celtics with one of the biggest trade exceptions in NBA history, it felt like a huge win. Here was an All-Star caliber wing that could provide a scoring punch, be a lead playmaker when required, and would slot into any defensive system. The only problem was that Hayward had struggled for health during his time with the Celtics, and there was a risk those struggles would continue.
As it turns out, that risk was real. Since being with the Hornets, Hayward has missed at least 30 regular season games every season, putting additional weight on his teammate’s shoulders as they looked to fill the void his absence created. The problem is the talented forward is also the team’s top earner, consuming an average of 25% of the Hornets’ total cap space over his four-year contract.
Now, as Hayward enters the final year of his deal, he projects to be a tradeable asset for the Hornets – one that should, and most likely will, be shopped around the league to gauge what sort of return the franchise can get from moving the 33-year-old on to new pastures. The problem is, from a talent standpoint, moving Hayward weakens your team’s rotation. Even with LaMelo Ball, Terry Rozier, and potentially Mile Bridges, Hayward is currently seen as the most talented and dynamic player on the roster when healthy.
Yet, that talent hasn’t resulted in any postseason appearances, and now, the Hornets need to pick a path forward – a path that will likely see them get younger and look to acquire assets.