Hornets News: Race to the bottom in Charlotte, showcasing Bridges, Lowry's future

Jan 8, 2024; Miami, Florida, USA;  Kyle Lowry on the bench
Jan 8, 2024; Miami, Florida, USA; Kyle Lowry on the bench / Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports

The Hornets battled through foul trouble to LaMelo Ball and Brandon Miller to play the Rockets close through two quarters on Friday night at home. But they completely fell apart in the second half defensively, as we’ve seen far too many times, surrendering an 83 point half and falling 138-104.

The loss dropped Charlotte to 10-33, the fourth worst record in the NBA. The Spurs got a win last night, their 9th of the season, and the Pistons (5 wins) and Wizards (7 wins) play on Saturday afternoon, so at least two of the bottom three will pick up a game on Charlotte within 24 hours.

The NBA flattened the lottery odds several years ago to try and curve tanking, but there are still advantages in draft order the worse your record is. If the Hornets stay fourth worst, they would have a 12.5% chance at 1st overall pick, 12.2% at 2nd, 11.9% at 3rd, 11.5% at 4th 7.2% at 5th, 25.7% at 6th, 16.8% at 7th, and 2.2% at 8th - the lowest their pick could fall.

I hate to say it but it’s about that time again, Hornets fans. Time to watch the standings - and not the top part. The 2024 NBA draft has not been billed as a particularly good one, but there are almost always some great players to be found. Having a higher pick to try and identify the best talent will be key.

Showcasing Miles Bridges for the Utah Jazz

Saturday night, the Hornets are back on the court at Spectrum Center, hosting the 23-23 Utah Jazz. The Jazz have been a fun upstart team this season, with strong depth, promising young players, and a borderline all-star in Lauri Markkanen. They are well coached by Will Hardy and his staff, and from a pure basketball standpoint, this should be a pretty fun game to watch.

But this game has a little extra intrigue after the Jazz were recently linked to Miles Bridges in trade rumors. This will be the best chance for the Jazz front office personnel to get an up close and personal look at Bridges, and perhaps talk to Miles’ people about his thoughts on Utah and the Jazz (as they would hope to re-sign him after this season if they trade for him).

The head to head matchup may also present an opportunity for Hornets and Jazz brass to meet face to face, which could allow talks to intensify. Either way, at this point, both teams likely know what they’re dealing with and it’s highly unlikely that anything Bridges does on the court tonight will impact Utah’s desire to trade for him. But still, this matchup happening just 12 days before the trade deadline is definitely noteworthy (no pun intended).

Kyle Lowry's Future

In the same Jake Fischer piece where he mentioned Bridges to Utah, he also dropped some clues about Kyle Lowry and what his market looks like. It’s clear that the 37 year old Lowry will never suit up for the rebuilding Hornets, so the team would obviously love to flip him again to a contender before the deadline.

Recouping any value for Lowry will be nearly impossible as he has looked pretty washed up at times this season. On top of that, he’s in the last year of a $29.7 million expiring contract. That’s going to be a very tough figure for any contending team to get to in matching salary while upgrading their roster. Getting literally anything of value for Lowry would be a massive win for the Hornets, but sadly looks to be extremely unlikely.

The most likely scenario is Charlotte calls around without finding any takers, then ultimately works with Kyle to buy out the rest of his contract after the deadline passes, so that he can sign with a contender. The twist there is that since Lowry makes (well) above the MLE of $12.4 million this season, only teams under the first luxury tax apron would be allowed to sign Lowry even after he is bought out. This makes it extremely likely that Lowry will sign with his hometown Philadelphia 76ers, a team in need of his services, and one of the only contenders under that tax apron.