Hornets and P.J. Washington are hurtling toward a worst-case scenario

P.J. Washington, Charlotte Hornets. Mandatory Credit: Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports
P.J. Washington, Charlotte Hornets. Mandatory Credit: Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports /

Heading into the offseason, it seemed unthinkable that the Charlotte Hornets and P.J. Washington would be at a stand-off. Washington is coming off his best season with the franchise and was expected to have several suitors once free agency began. Yet, Washington hasn’t had a single offer sheet cross his agent’s desk.

It was supposed to be simple. A team would offer Washington a pay increase on his current salary, the Hornets would match the offer, and everybody would turn their attention toward the new season. That offer never came, though.

Most teams around the league have concluded the lion’s share of their business, and it would appear that Washington was part of their plans. Now, the Hornets are stuck in limbo. As Jon DeLong of At The Hive noted, Charlotte could now be faced with Washington opting into his qualifying offer and becoming an unrestricted free agent next summer.

"“It seems we’re barreling towards one almost inevitable outcome–the sides can’t reach common ground, so PJ Washington signs his qualifying offer,” DeLong wrote. “That’ll essentially have him on a one year contract for $8.5 million…Players rarely sign their qualifying offers. Two players on the same team in the same free agency period doing so is unprecedented. There’s no way for us to know why it’s happening, but it’s not a great look for the organization.”"

Miles Bridges recently accepted his qualifying offer, although those circumstances were drastically different. The truth is the Hornets have shoehorned themselves into their current situation. By waiting for Washington to receive an offer from elsewhere in the NBA, Charlotte has allowed the situation to drag on.

If Washington does accept his qualifying offer, the Hornets will have both him and Bridges entering unrestricted free agency next summer, which could potentially see both players leave for new teams. Charlotte is supposed to be building around LaMelo Ball in the hopes of proving the budding superstar can contend while being part of their roster. Instead, the continued malaise in regard to retaining talent will do nothing to assure LaMelo that things will be different within the organization moving forward.

With almost a month left before training camp starts, there’s still hope that Washington and the Hornets can come to an agreement that works for both parties. However, time is ticking, and having two core players entering unrestricted free agency next summer is not how Kupchak would have wanted to be entering the new season.

Next. A Comprehensive guide to the Charlotte Hornets’ 2023-24 preseason. dark