Noah Vonleh’s injury leaves the Hornets’ frontcourt with less depth than coach Steve Clifford would like, and as a result, the team is planning on adding a player to help supplement their cast of bigs, as Clifford tells Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer. Vonleh, the ninth overall pick in June’s draft, likely wasn’t in line to receive major minutes in the upcoming season, but any player signed or acquired will probably take on his load in the rotation until he’s healthy enough to return.
The Hornets’ frontcourt is currently set to feature Marvin Williams, Cody Zeller, Al Jefferson, and Bismack Biyombo. The team has 14 guaranteed deals on their books as well as Dallas Lauderdale‘s likely non- or partially guaranteed pact. Lauderdale is a big man himself, but Charlotte might not feel comfortable giving him a spot in their rotation, since he lacks any NBA regular season experience. It’s possible that he could impress Clifford and GM Rich Cho enough in camp to the point that they don’t feel compelled to ink another player, but given Clifford’s admission they were looking to add someone, it seems safe to assume Lauderdale isn’t the solution the team is after.
There are several veteran bigs available on the market, as our list of 2014 free agents shows. I’d speculate that the recently waived Hasheem Thabeet might make sense if the team is looking for a center, but Dante Cunningham could be a more appealing option if they’re leaning toward bringing in a power forward. No players have been identified as potential targets yet, but that could change in the days ahead.
Charlotte can offer free agents a deal worth up to $2,732,000 using the room exception. They might not need to use that full amount, as many available players would likely settle for the minimum at this late stage of free agency, but the ability to make an offer greater than that could help them win a player who’s also being pursued by a team limited to paying the minimum.