3 Free agents that could fit the Charlotte Hornets' new identity

With new ownership and front office officially in place, Charlotte is ready to turn the page to the next step of their rebuild.
Apr 12, 2024; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kyle Anderson (1) drives
Apr 12, 2024; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kyle Anderson (1) drives / Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
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The Charlotte Hornets will enter the 2024-25 offseason with glimmers of hope not raided upon the franchise in years. A new ownership group led by Rick Schnall and Gabe Plotkin firmly put their fingerprints on the roster at the trade deadline, acquiring much-needed veteran presence to one of the NBA’s youngest rosters.

Also, the long-term prognostications for the Hornets’ young duo of LaMelo Ball and Brandon Miller appear to show a rock-solid foundation to build a hopeful, consistent winner around. Miller has dazzled throughout his rookie campaign, living up to the expectations for a No. 2 overall pick, but he’s really started to spread his wings more consistently post-All-Star Break averaging 17.9 points over the Hornets’ last 20 games.

Charlotte has been in the Association’s cellar for years on end, missing the postseason for eight consultive seasons. If the Hornets want to change that tune in short order, a lot of those answers will be built around their core of young talent spearheaded by Ball and Miller.

Ball’s rookie-scale max extension kicks in this summer, so Charlotte will have to continue hitting singles and doubles on the transaction market before the grand slam comes down the road. The hardest part of the rebuilding process is already done for the Hornets, thanks to Ball and Miller, plus whoever they select near the top of the 2024 NBA Draft.

The Hornets’ cap space for the upcoming offseason is an interesting exercise into how they can go about building a playoff contender. Projected to have around $25 million to work with, how should Charlotte operate? The first order of business will be declining the partially-guaranteed team option on Davis Bertans, who was acquired at the deadline alongside potential long-term rotation piece Tre Mann from the Oklahoma City Thunder. Once that transaction is done, the next order of business for Jeff Peterson, the Hornets’ new general manager, is to decide the next steps on Miles Bridges’ future with the organization.

The Bridges situation is one that is obviously complex following his year-long absence due to domestic violence. Upon his return, Bridges has averaged a career-high 21.4 points per game. Peterson recently mentioned Bridges on The Woj Pod with ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowksi alongside Ball, Miller and Mark Williams as players he believe can continue to grow for next season. If that’s the case, heavily lean towards Bridges inking another deal with Charlotte, which in turn significantly lowers their cap space flexibility.

If Bridges signs for let’s say $15-20 million annually, the Hornets would be left with only the mid-level exception to bring aboard a real impact-type veteran presence in free agency. So, who could those potential targets be? Let’s dive into three different player archetypes who would fit into Charlotte’s roster immediately.

1. Kyle Anderson

The Hornets’ trade deadline wheeling-and-dealing kept one familiar identity for all their new players brought aboard: toughness. If Charlotte wants to continue building upon that new identity, there might not be much better options to aggressively pursue on July 1 than Anderson.

Anderson has turned into a key cog for the Minnesota Timberwolves over the last two seasons averaging 8.1 points, 4.6 assists and 4.5 rebounds in only 25.7 minutes. Not only can Anderson fit into many versatile roles, but it’s never a bad option to add in a veteran who can make smart plays on both ends of the court. Anderson’s savviness would be a great addition for Charlotte’s rotation, and he might be worth splurging a few extra million on if there’s a potential bidding war.