Charlotte Hornets free agent signings, live tracker, grades

LaMelo Ball, Charlotte Hornets. (Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images)
LaMelo Ball, Charlotte Hornets. (Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images) /

The Charlotte Hornets enter the 2023 offseason in a state of flux. Michael Jordan has sold his majority share in the franchise while retaining a minority stake. Miles Bridges’ future appears to be uncertain. And LaMelo Ball is entering the final year of his rookie-scale contract making his future an immediate priority for the Hornets front office.

Free agency is a period in the basketball calendar where teams can focus on improving. For the Hornets, that means finding players who can help improve an offense that continually fell shot and improving the talent surrounding LaMelo, and now Brandon Miller.

The Hornets don’t project as a cap space team this summer, so we can rule out any big swings for star-free agents. However, Charlotte does possess the Non-Taxpayer Mid-Level exception, worth $12.4 million, and the Bi-Annual exception, worth $4.5 million. Charlotte also has multiple players entering free agency, both restricted and unrestricted.

Charlotte Hornets free agent

  • P.J. Washington (Restricted)
  • Kelly Oubre Jr. (Unrestricted)
  • Miles Bridges (Restricted)
  • Sviatoslav Mykhaliliuk (Unrestricted)
  • Theo Maledon (Restricted)
  • Dennis Smith Jr. (Unrestricted)

Update: Charlotte Hornets extend qualifying offers

On June 28, the Charlotte Hornets tendered qualifying offers to Miles Bridges, P.J. Washington, and Theo Maledon, ensuring all three of them are restricted free agents heading into the offseason.

Rumor: According to Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports, the Hornets may struggle to retain Miles Bridges, as the team has no ‘straightforward path’ to retaining the embattled guard.

"“The Hornets don’t appear to have a straightforward path to re-sign Miles Bridges.” Fischer wrote. “The 25-year-old forward missed all of 2023-24 following a domestic violence incident last summer. Bridges and his representation at Klutch Sports have even broached the subject of Charlotte pulling his qualifying offer to make Bridges an unrestricted free agent, sources said.”"

Currently, Fischer’s report is nothing more than a rumor. However, Bridges’ future with the Hornets has been a hot topic of discussion amongst the fan base, and the Hornets will now need to make a decision on whether they’re willing to retain Bridges or lose him for nothing in the coming weeks.

Charlotte Hornets free-agent tracker.

The free agency negotiation period officially began on Friday, June 30, at 6 p.m. ET. This page will continually be updated with the Charlotte Hornets’ roster moves and the status of their current free agents. Be sure to keep checking in!

Update: 7/1/23 

Dennis Smith Jr. will not be returning to the Hornets, as he has signed a one-year deal to join the Brooklyn Nets, as reported by The Athletic’s Shams Charania.

Smith Jr. played in 54 games for the Hornets last season, rebuilding some of his value around the NBA. In those contests, Smith Jr. averaged 8.8 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 4.8 assists per game while shooting 41.2% from the field and 21.6% from deep.

The Hornets’ recent addition of Nick Smith Jr. with the 27th selection in the 2023 NBA Draft will soften the blow of losing Smith Jr, though. As the rookie guard will likely slot straight into Steve Clifford’s bench rotation.

Update: 7/1/23 

LaMelo Ball is set to sign a five-year $260 max contract extension with the Hornets, as originally reported by The Athletic’s Shams Charania.

Ball missed the majority of last season with a fractured right ankle – which he sustained in late February. Nevertheless, Mitch Kupchak and the front office have now tied down their franchise cornerstone to a significant contract.

Charlotte will now need to push ahead with reshaping their roster around LaMelo and the recently-acquired Brandon Miller.

Update: 7/2/23

Miles Bridges is accepting his qualifying offer worth $7.9 million to return to the Charlotte Hornets next season. Bridges will then become an unrestricted free agent next summer.

"“Charlotte has wanted to bring back Bridges on a new contract, but Bridges’ side didn’t believe there would be the progress necessary to reach what it believed was still his market value,” ESPN’S Adrian Wojnarowski reported on July 2."

Charlotte could now lose Bridges for nothing in 2024 unless they can agree to a contract extension during the regular-season or are willing to meet his market value next summer. Bridges is likely making this move to bet on himself rebuilding his value around the NBA after missing last season due to legal issues.