Having finished 10th in the Eastern Conference with a 23-42 record, the Charlotte Hornets were among the eight teams who were not invited to Orlando for the resumption of the 2019-20 NBA season. Given their continued lack of postseason success, a new report suggested that the team should sign one of two forwards if they become available in the 2020 free-agency period — Danilo Gallinari of the Oklahoma City Thunder or Gordon Hayward of the Boston Celtics.
As explained by Bleacher Report in an article that recommended offseason moves for the NBA’s 10 worst teams this season, the Hornets have “[evoked] the thought of mediocrity” over the past few seasons and could be in need of some changes. According to the outlet’s Andy Bailey, the team’s plans would largely depend on whether or not Nicolas Batum opts-out of the final year of his contract, which will pay him $27.1 million in 2020-21. He added, however, that it’s still possible to sign a quality free agent even if the veteran wingman opts-in.
Given that renouncing the rights to center/forward Bismack Biyombo ($25.5 million cap hold) should be a “no-brainer” for Charlotte, Bailey suggested that Gallinari might be a “realistic” player to target during the 2020 offseason, as he will be an unrestricted free agent and one who could, more importantly, address certain weaknesses for the organization.
“For the second straight season, he averaged more than 19 points with a 60-plus true shooting percentage. His ability to shoot from the outside and draw fouls could go a long way toward helping a team that ranks 27th in effective field-goal percentage and 22nd in free-throw-attempt rate.”
As further predicted, Gallinari could start at forward alongside 2019-20 rookie P.J. Washington and guards Terry Rozier and Devonte’ Graham if Charlotte chooses to field a small-ball lineup.
In addition to Gallinari, Bailey mentioned Hayward as a bit of a long-shot target for the 2020 free agency period, considering the Hornets once signed him to an offer sheet. Although he stressed that it’s quite likely that the Celtics wingman would opt-in to the final year of his contract with Boston, the Bleacher Report writer hinted that there might be a “spark” if he doesn’t exercise his option and chooses to look for another long-term contract in the offseason.
As shown on his Basketball-Reference player page, Hayward is enjoying a resurgence in 2019-20, more than two years after he suffered a season-ending injury in the first game of the 2017-18 campaign. In 45 games, he is averaging 17.3 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 4.1 assists while shooting 50.2 percent from the field and 39.2 percent from beyond the arc.