Davis Bertans' unique contract offers Charlotte Hornets offseason flexibility

How can the Hornets make a big move this offseason? The answer may surprise you.
Apr 10, 2024; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Charlotte Hornets forward Davis Bertans (9) shown on the court
Apr 10, 2024; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Charlotte Hornets forward Davis Bertans (9) shown on the court / Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The Charlotte Hornets are entering the 2024 offseason with a firm plan of action in place. New ownership led by Rick Schnall and Gabe Plotkin have put former Brooklyn Nets executive Jeff Peterson in charge of their day-to-day basketball operations as general manager. Now, with an ongoing head coach search to replace Steve Clifford, who is moving into an advisory role in the front office, it would appear the finalists are ESPN analyst JJ Redick and Boston Celtics assistant Charles Lee.

One critical junction of the offseason for Charlotte will be continuing to retool their roster. After a flurry of transactions leading into the trade deadline, how will Charlotte continue to properly shuffle the decks around their two primary pieces in LaMelo Ball and Brandon Miller?

With the second-largest contract projected on Charlotte’s salary cap for 2024-25 behind Ball’s $35.3 million figure, Davis Bertans is a key name to watch on the transaction wire all summer long. What’s interesting about Bertans’ $16 million expiring contract is that it’s not fully guaranteed, plus it includes a team-friendly early termination option that can be exercised. Only $5.3 million of Bertans’ contract is guaranteed, which means he can be one of the Hornets’ most coveted trade chips to explore upgrades with.

Bertans agreed to a contract amendment with the Oklahoma City Thunder back in November, which pushed his guarantee date back all the way to January 2025. Now in Charlotte, the Hornets can take full advantage of this unique situation by shopping around for an impact veteran.

In 28 games for the Hornets, Bertans averaged 8.8 points in 20.8 minutes while shooting 37.5 percent on threes at high volume (6.3 3PA). Surprisingly enough, this was Bertans’ best stretch of basketball played since the 2020-21 season with the Washington Wizards where he originally earned his shocking 5-year, $80 million deal.

The partially-guaranteed contract for Bertans can be very beneficial for the Hornets in trade talks, especially when looking over win-now teams that are clearing the second tax apron. Charlotte can help those teams by taking off a sizable contract in exchange for Bertans at a discounted figure of $5.3 million. For example, what about dialing up the Phoenix Suns and offering Bertans and a few second-round picks for center Jusuf Nurkic? With the ongoing questions surrounding Mark Williams’ back injury, having a capable starter like Nurkic on stand by actually makes sense for a Hornets team in need of more veterans.

This is just one manner in which the Hornets can work their way around the market this offseason, but Bertans’ days in Charlotte certainly feel numbered thanks to his amended contract ready to be utilized for a bigger move.