When the 2018-19 NBA season is over, the Charlotte Hornets are expected to focus on re-signing All-Star point guard Kemba Walker, who is currently playing the final year of the four-year, $48 million contract he signed in 2015. Walker may have failed to bring the Hornets to the top of the Eastern Conference, but they still see him as the centerpiece of the title-contending team that they are planning to build. As much as the Hornets want to bring Walker back, there are also players that they want to get rid of their roster – Nic Batum and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.
Nic Batum and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist are consuming a huge chunk of the Hornets’ salary cap space, but they haven’t made much impact for the team this season. In a recent interview with Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer, Hornets Head Coach James Borrego admitted that he doesn’t know where Batum and Kidd-Gilchrist fit in their roster.
Since signing the largest contract in Charlotte sports history – $120 million over five years – in 2016, Nic Batum has been a huge disappointment and this season, he is only averaging 9.8 points, 5.3 rebounds, 3.4 assists, and 1.0 steal on 45.1 percent shooting from the field and 38.9 percent shooting from beyond the arc. The same thing goes with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who continues to receive a diminished role in Coach James Borrego’s rotation.
COLUMN: Right now, the @hornets situation with Nic Batum and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is awkward. Next season, it could be problematic and brutally expensive. Is there a way to mitigate obsolescence? https://t.co/LCmipMUxJh— Rick Bonnell (@rick_bonnell) March 29, 2019
If they will be the one to decide, the Hornets definitely want to trade Nic Batum and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist for expiring contracts which will enable them to surround Kemba Walker with quality players next summer. However, as Bonnell noted, it remains a big question mark if there will be NBA teams who will be willing to absorb the lucrative contracts of Batum and Kidd-Gilchrist without receiving a young player or a future draft pick as compensation.
“Technically, Kidd-Gilchrist can opt out of his contract after this season, but I doubt that happens; I don’t see another team paying him $13 million next season, so why hit free agency before he must? I do think it’s possible another team would accept Kidd-Gilchrist’s salary as part of a trade package, but that would entail the Hornets giving up an asset as an inducement. Batum’s contract is more problematic. No player in the NBA is ‘untradeable,’ but $25.5 million next season and $27 million the following season is way out of line with what another team could expect from Batum’s performance.”
As of now, it remains unknown what the Hornets plan to do on Nic Batum and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Expect more rumors to circulate in the 2019 NBA offseason.