Summer agenda: Charlotte Hornets

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·The Vertical
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The Vertical Front-Office Insider Bobby Marks, a 20-year executive with the Nets, offers his thoughts on the offseason plans of NBA teams whose seasons have ended.

THE PLAN GOING FORWARD
Prioritize free agency
The advantage for the Hornets in free agency is five of the better free agents are theirs.

The problem is getting each player to fit into the salary-cap puzzle and keeping together a core that won 48 games this season.

Nic Batum, Al Jefferson, Courtney Lee, Marvin Williams and Jeremy Lin each fit into the blueprint of general manager Rich Cho and coach Steve Clifford.

Charlotte, with $48 million in guaranteed contracts and $66 million in free-agent cap holds, will not be able to sign all five players, who will be coveted by teams overflowing with cap space.

Jeremy Lin may be the odd free agent out in Charlotte. (Getty Images)
Jeremy Lin may be the odd free agent out in Charlotte. (Getty Images)

The odd man out is likely going to be Lin. With Lin opting out of his contract – and with non-Bird rights – Charlotte will have to use cap space to sign him. To create room, Charlotte would need to address Batum, Jefferson, Lee and Williams before circling back to Lin. The large cap holds have Charlotte over the salary cap.

If Batum is brought back at $20 million and Jefferson at $10 million then Charlotte could have room for Lin. However, that would cost the team Lee and Williams. The issue for Charlotte is that with a weak free-agent point-guard class, Lin could be off the board within the first few days of free agency.

Charlotte could try and find a home for Spencer Hawes and Jeremy Lamb to create additional cap room, but even the $11 million in savings would not be enough to allow the Hornets to bring back all five players.

The next two months will be critical for the Hornets to prioritize their free agents.

Have multiple free-agent options
Portland showed last summer the value of executing a backup plan when it lost LaMarcus Aldridge in free agency.

The Hornets will be walking that same free-agent tightrope.

Leading up to July 1, the Hornets will need to have every free-agent and trade scenario on the table. If they don’t, their success this season will be a distant memory.

What backup free-agent point guard can play with Kemba Walker if Lin leaves? If cap space is needed for Lin, how will it be created? If Batum signs elsewhere, who on the open market can replace him? How many more years will Jefferson produce at a high level? Will Lee’s salary demands be too much? Will Williams become a luxury based on the development of Frank Kaminsky?

Cho and his staff will prepare for every scenario, including the doomsday scenario of being left with $39 million in cap space if a mass exodus of their free agents occurs.

TEAM NEEDS
In a perfect scenario, all five free agents return, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist stays healthy, Charlotte’s first-round pick pays off, and the Hornets build off their success.

However NBA teams do not operate in a perfect world.

The challenge of bringing back Lin could mean Charlotte will be looking for a backup point guard.

The Kidd-Gilchrist injury and the development of Cody Zeller, Lamb and Kaminsky will also affect Charlotte’s decisions.

SUMMER CAP BREAKDOWN

Guaranteed

  2016-17

    Insider info

1. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist

  $13,000,000

    None

2. Kemba Walker

  $12,000,000

    None

3. Jeremy Lamb

  $6,511,628

    None

4. Spencer Hawes

  $6,348,759

    None

5. Cody Zeller

  $5,318,313

    Eligible for rookie extension

6. Frank Kaminsky

  $2,730,000

    None

Non/partial

  2016-17

    Guarantee date

7. Aaron Harrison

  $874,636

    None

FA cap holds

  2016-17

    Free-agent status

8. Al Jefferson

  $20,250,000

    Full Bird rights

9. Nicolas Batum

  $19,687,959

    Full Bird rights

10. Courtney Lee

  $10,782,500

    Full Bird rights

11. Marvin Williams

  $9,100,000

    Early Bird rights

12. Jeremy Lin

  $2,566,800

    Non -Bird rights

13. Troy Daniels

  $980,431

    Restricted/early Bird rights

14. Tyler Hansbrough

  $980,431

    Non -Bird rights

15. Jeffrey Taylor

  $980,431

 

16. Jason Maxiell

  $980,431

 

First-round hold

  2016-17

 

17. Own pick at No. 22

  $1,199,900

 

CAP PICTURE

 Guaranteed

  $45,908,700 

 Non/partial  

  $874,636

 FA cap holds

  $66,308,983

 First-round holds

  $1,199,900

 Minimum holds

  $0

 Dead money      

  $0

 Total

  $114,292,219

 Salary cap

  $92,000,000

 Cap space

  None ($22,292,219 over cap)

JUNE DRAFT PICKS
First round: Own pick

Second round: To Denver

FUTURE PICKS
First round
Charlotte owns all their its first-round picks.

Key rights to: None

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