The Hornets will have a lot of big decisions to make this summer, as it will be the most important off-season in franchise history. Not only could the Hornets have two first round picks, but they also have the cap space to make a splash in free agency. Below I will summarize what the Hornets have ahead of them this summer in terms of free agency.
Team needs: Backup PG, upgrade at either starting SG or starting SF, a proven backup center.
Guards: Luke Ridnour and Jannero Pargo
Forwards: Chris Douglas Roberts, Anthony Tolliver, Josh McRoberts (player option).
Charlotte has five players with expiring contracts (assuming McRoberts opts out). This is a positive, especially considering only one of them is a starter.
In terms of guards, I don’t expect the Hornets to re-sign Luke Ridnour. While he played decently down the stretch, the backup point guard spot is certainly an area in which the Hornets will look to improve on this summer.
It will be interesting to see if Pargo returns. I like his game, but even though he shows glimpses of being a capable backup, he’s probably best suited as a third stringer.
Charlotte received very solid play from CDR in the later parts of last year. After being brought in mid-season, he really adapted nicely to the important role he played in Charlotte’s system. I expect Douglas-Roberts to be back next year, as he really fits in nicely of the bench.
Anthony Tolliver was very streaky to say the least as a Bobcat last year. It’s a toss up if he will be back or not. You just don’t know how much Cho and Higgins will value his shooting, which is something that this team needs.
I expect Josh McRoberts to be back for Charlotte next season. His energy and passing ability is something that is hard to come by in this league. With that being said, there will most likely be other teams interested, so we will see what happens if he opts out.
-Arron Afflalo (Orlando Magic):
Even though Afflalo is not a free agent, Charlotte should seriously look into a trade for him. His name came up a lot during the 2014 trading deadline, but Orlando might decide to revisit those offers closer to the draft. Now that we are a month and a half away from the draft, things should begin to heat up. If Charlotte is serious about acquiring Afflalo, it will unfortunately come at a cost. However, the cost might be worth it as the Hornets are in desperate need of a scorer of his caliber to push the team to the next level.
-Ramon Sessions (UFA):
From the day Sessions was traded, the fact he was a free agent next year came to mind. With that being said, it hit me the Hornets could reacquire Sessions in the offseason. Not only has Sessions said he would be open to returning to Charlotte, but he would certainly be an upgrade over Ridnour. If Sessions does come back, the trade for Neal would become even better.
-Chandler Parsons (RFA):
The former Florida Gator would fit very nicely in the Hornets offense. At the end of the day, it comes down to if management wants an upgrade at shooting guard or small forward over Henderson or MKG, respectively. If they choose to upgrade the small forward spot, Parsons is a very capable starter who knows how to shoot the three.
-Rudy Gay (Player Option):
This is where it gets tricky. Gay would most likely become the Hornets highest paid player as well as premier scoring threat from the outside. On paper it seems like a very good fit, but then you get into his history. As most of you know, Gay was traded from the Raptors this year and they suddenly improved after his departure. He’s a good player, but that’s not the question. The question is if the Hornets think he will drastically improve his team. This will have to be the case considering the amount of money he would be asking for.
-Gordon Heyward (RFA):
Heyward is another intriguing fit for the Hornets, as he would also bring in an outside shooting threat. The good thing about Heyward is his price tag would most likely be lower than the others. The only problem I have with him is I’m not sure how much he would really improve the team. However, to me, it could be a good gamble, as perimeter shooting is obviously something this team lacks.
-Trevor Ariza (UFA):
The more I see of the Wizards in the playoffs, the more and more I value Ariza. He would bring a veteran presence with very good defensive skills. His offense isn’t great, but he has clearly showcased his ability to hit from downtown this year. Most importantly, I think he would be a good mentor for MKG and make him an overall better player.
Unlikely, but would make sense: Carmelo Anthony. If Anthony came to Charlotte, he would automatically become the best player and the go to guy on offense. Having Jefferson on the inside and him on the outside would certainly make a deadly combination. This would be a gigantic step into making the Hornets an Eastern Conference contender.
Things I don’t like: The idea of bringing in Luol Deng. For the high price he’s likely going to ask for, I don’t think Deng could make that much of a difference on this Hornets team. He was good with the Bulls, but when he was put in Cleveland - a place with minimal talent - he disappeared.
Here’s what I think should happen, and it is realistic. The first ation the Hornets should take is to acquire Arron Afflalo. I really feel like his game would help this team tremendously. In the process, give Orlando Gerald Henderson. The next step would be to re-sign Sessions. I really like what he brings on and off the court as a very nice veteran presence. If the Hornets are able to make those moves over the offseason, things would look very bright in the Queen City.
Stay tuned to our blog for extensive draft coverage this summer!
Lead Hornets Writer: Jonathon Hoppe