Where Will the Hornets’ Impending Free Agents Go?by Patrick Champion July 26, 2021 1 comment
The Charlotte Hornets are going through a transitional time.
The drafting of LaMelo Ball, the emergence of Terry Rozier, and the chemistry between Ball and Miles Bridges has led to much optimism amongst Hornets fans. And, as the league calendar shifts away from the NBA Finals and towards next season, Charlotte’s front office will have to make many decisions concerning free agency.
The Hornets have seven players eligible for extensions, so who is the front office most likely to re-sign?
2020-21 AAV: $14,000,000
Cody Zeller’s contract has long been hated by Hornets fans, who believe he has been heavily overpaid. While Charlotte will not offer nearly as much as the $14 million he has received this year, Zeller is still a solid rotational piece who could be a solid backup for Charlotte. If he asks for anything north of $9 million, the Hornets will have a tough time re-signing him, even if he has been with the team for nearly a decade.
2020-21 AAV: $3,931,512
Unlike Zeller, Monk has not been the featured guy at his position for Charlotte. Monk has been with the Hornets for his entire four-year career. However, he did not see a significant increase in his role from last year but rather fewer minutes than in 2019-2020. While Monk is almost certainly worth more than his $4 million rookie contract, it doesn’t seem like the Hornets have him in their long-term plans.
2020-21 AAV: $3,500,000
Another staple of the Hornets’ recent history, Biyombo has traditionally been a backup for the team. If the Hornets want him back, they will likely have to offer something around what he earned this year. Fortunately for Biyombo, the Hornets’ center depth chart is somewhat barren without him. Additionally, there has not been much public interest from other teams about signing him. The Hornets may be willing to pay the small price he will entail. If so, they will get at least one more year of Bismack Biyombo.
2020-21 AAV: $2,250,000
The main piece in a midseason trade with the Golden State Warriors, Wanamaker left a solid impact in the 22 games he played with Charlotte. He averaged 6.9 PPG, which matched the career-high he set two years ago. Ultimately, there won’t be too much of a market for a guard going into his age-32 season. If the Hornets want him to be a mentor for LaMelo Ball and anchor the back of the rotation, re-signing him won’t be too much of a challenge.
2020-21 AAV: $1,356,392
While Graham regressed slightly from his MIP season last year, he will still receive a pretty hefty payday in free agency. He did lose his starting role to Ball, but he remained a prominent bench player in the Hornets’ rotation. However, the Hornets’ depth at guard is pretty full, and they are not a team that is known for big spending. Paying lots of money for a backup point guard will be a tough sell.
These were the players who saw serious playing time as the Hornets’ season progressed. With a new youth movement headlined by LaMelo Ball just around the corner, it will be interesting to see how well these players fit in Charlotte’s new system.
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