The Charlotte Hornets may be one of the losers in free agency so far, but it isn’t because they haven’t done anything.
The Hornets, coming off their best season since becoming an expansion team for the second time in their history, have lost three of their five key free agents. Charlotte has re-signed Nic Batum for $120 million for five years and Marvin Williams to a four-year deal worth $54.5 million. But they lost Jeremy Lin to the Brooklyn Nets, Courtney Lee to the New York Knicks, and Al Jefferson to the Indiana Pacers.
Convincing Batum and Williams to return to Charlotte was the team’s top priority, so the Hornets can’t be too unhappy with their results.
With the Batum and Williams signings along with the trade for Marco Belinelli, Charlotte has very little cap space available. The Hornets currently have nine players under contract, and all but Aaron Harrison’s contract ($874, 636) is fully guaranteed, per Basketball Insiders.
Charlotte acquired Belinelli from Sacramento in a draft day deal for Malachai Richardson, who was selected with the No. 22 overall selection.
Belinelli averaged 10.2 points in 68 games last year for the Kings despite shooting a career-low 38.6 percent from the field and 30.6 percent from beyond the arc. The 30-year-old is known for his shooting ability and the ability to play solid team defense, though his individual defense leaves a lot to be desired. He averages 9.5 points for his career while shooting 42.4 percent from the floor and 37.9 percent from beyond the arc.
Despite being against the cap, Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical is reporting that the Hornets have agreed to a one-year, $5 million deal with veteran center Roy Hibbert. Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer is reporting that the team also agreed to a two-year pact worth $12.3 million with backup point guard Ramon Sessions. The second-year deal of Sessions deal is reportedly a team option.
Hibbert has seen his production decline slightly since producing 12.8 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2.0 blocks a game in 2011-12. The 29-year-old, who was an All-Defensive Second Team Selection in 2014, is coming off a career-worst season with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Hibbert averaged 5.9 points and 4.9 rebounds along with 1.4 blocks a contest in 23.2 minutes a contest a year ago. The 7-foot-2, 270-pounder is an excellent rim protector but struggles on the offensive end, particularly when he is not close to the rim. He shot just 44.3 percent from the field in 2015-16 and is a career 49.5 percent shooter.
Sessions, 30, has bounced around the NBA since entering the league in 2007, playing for six teams over the course of his career — including in Charlotte in 2013-14. The 6-foot-3, 190-pounder played last season with the Washington Wizards, averaging 9.9 points along with 2.9 assists and 2.5 rebounds.
Sessions is a shoot-first point guard who has an unreliable jumper. He can get to the rim and is excellent in pick-n-roll situations. Sessions shot 47.3 percent from the field but only connected on 32.4 percent of his three-point attempts last year.
Wojnarowski also reported that the Hornets are currently shopping veteran Spencer Hawes in order to create some extra cap space. He added that Charlotte may need to include a draft pick in order to move the 28-year-old, 7-foot-1 center. Hawes has two-years and $11.7 million left on his contract though next year is a player option.
Hawes is not really a force in the post as he has grown to love the three-pointer out of the pick-n-pop situations. He is also a good passer but is not much of a rim protector. Hawes averaged 6.0 points and 4.5 rebounds while shooting 40.5 percent from the floor and 37.3 percent from beyond the arc last season.
Charlotte has a first-round and second-round selection in the 2017, 2018, 2020, 2021 and 2022. In 2019, the Hornets have just a first round selection.
Charlotte still has three players on the open market, with Troy Daniels being a restricted free agent while Jorge Gutierrez and Tyler Hansbrough are unrestricted free agents.
[Photo by Mark J. Terrill/AP]