As any team does after being eliminated, the Hornets will now turn their focus to the off-season.
The first event for the Hornets is the NBA Draft Combine (May 11-15) in Chicago. This event of course is the lead up to the NBA Draft that will take place on June 23rd. The Hornets have the 22nd overall pick in this year's draft. Their second round pick was traded to the Thunder in the Jeremy Lamb trade. However, after a separate deal, the pick is now in the hands of the Denver Nuggets.
While the Hornets should be able to get decent talent with the 22nd pick, free agency is going to be much more important this summer.
Hornet's free agents this summer: Al Jefferson, Nic Batum, Courtney Lee, Marvin Williams, Tyler Hansbrough, and Jeremy Lin.
First things first, I fully expect the Hornets to do whatever it takes to retain Nicolas Batum. Anyone that has watched the Hornets over the years knows how much better their offense was this season. Batum had a lot to do with that success. For me, Batum is priority number one for the Hornets front office this summer.
Once they take care of him, things will get a lot more interesting. Lee showed his value in the series against the Heat, but with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist set to return next year, I don't expect him to return. You have to give General Manager Rich Cho credit for trading for Lee near the deadline. He was a big part of the Hornets playoff run.
Before we talk about Al Jefferson, we should address the rumors regarding another center in the league. With Dwight Howard set to be a free agent this summer, Charlotte is said to be a frontrunner to land him. Given Charlotte's reported interest in Howard at the deadline this season, it would be no surprise if the Hornets contact him. After just finishing a series with one of the league's premier shot blockers in Hassan Whiteside, the Hornets will likely try to address interior defense this off-season. Given Howard's recent stints in Los Angeles and Houston, is he worth the money?
If Charlotte decides the answer to that question is no, Al Jefferson could return next year.
The two big free agents left for the Hornets are Marvin Williams and Jeremy Lin. Williams had a fantastic regular season for the Hornets, one that certainly warrants a raise. I worry about the Hornets giving Williams a significant contract this summer. Remember, just two short years ago, Williams was far from a fan favorite coming off the bench. If the Hornets do decide to pay Williams, they will be betting that he will return with the same intensity he had last year, which was a contract season.
As far as Jeremy Lin is concerned, it's going to be tough for the Hornets to retain him. It's already been rumored that Brooklyn will throw money his way this summer. Unless they prioritize Lin higher than I think they will, it is very unlikely Jeremy Lin returns to Charlotte next year.
Stay tuned as all of these issues will settle themselves over the next three months.
Lead Hornets Writer: Jonathon Hoppe