The Hornets have a double-edged sword problem in Miles Bridges

This offseason, Charlotte will have to consider a few factors in determining Bridges' future with the team.
Miles Bridges, Charlotte Hornets
Miles Bridges, Charlotte Hornets / Jared C. Tilton/GettyImages

When looking at this past season for the Charlotte Hornets, it is hard to deny the impact Miles Bridges had. Coming off a 2022-23 season where he missed the entire year due to suspension, there were of course a plethora of question marks surrounding one of the longest-tenured players on the roster.

But when he returned in November, Miles put an end to a lot of those questions in short order. Taking over a full calendar year off as a professional athlete can have varying effects on different people, and many would need a considerable amount of time to tune up before they got back to their previous level of production.

As for Bridges, he looked like his old self the moment he ran back onto the hardwood. With so many injuries ravaging the Hornets' roster this past season, Miles was one of the healthiest members of the squad and played in 69 out of a possible 72 contests in the regular season.

It stands to reason that he would have played a slightly different style with a healthy team around him. But with LaMelo Ball and Mark Williams out for the majority of the second half of the season, Miles took on the role of a three-level scorer, putting up big numbers and keeping Charlotte's offense from totally collapsing.

Bridges' free agency decision will be massive for the Hornets

With the offseason now upon us, the Hornets will have to carefully evaluate Bridges' season and determine what direction they see best with him going forward. Miles is an unrestricted free agent this summer. He has the ability to sign with any team he chooses, but Charlotte still retains his bird rights.

This means that they will have the most leverage to keep him in the Queen City, because they will be able to pay him a larger salary than any other team in the association. This all stems from last summer when the Hornets extended a one-year, $7.9 million qualifying offer to Bridges, which he accepted in order to play out this past season and set up unrestricted free agency this offseason.

Miles' situation is a bit of a double-edged sword for Charlotte, because they will need to figure out where they believe he fits in their long-term plans, and determine exactly how much they are willing to pay him if they go the route of a multi-year deal. His exact value is admittedly a little hard to determine, but based on his production in 2023-24, they can certainly count on him to be a scoring machine in spurts.

The worst-case scenario is they could end up inking him to a big contract to outbid other teams and overpay in the process. In that situation, they may be a bit constrained financially moving forward. Bridges' contract remains arguably the biggest wild card for the Hornets' offseason, and what result we see come about at the end of June or July will be very telling for Charlotte's future.