Jeremy Lamb might be the Hornets’ starter at shooting guard, but he could also be entering his final season with the team, writes Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer in his latest mailbag column. Lamb started 18 times in his 80 games last season and posted the best numbers of his six-year NBA career, averaging 12.9 points per game and shooting 37% from 3-point range.
Bonnell expects new coach James Borrego to use Nicolas Batum at small forward more often, opening a spot in the backcourt that will be filled either by Lamb or Malik Monk. Lamb improved his defense last year and provides more size than Monk, so he’s considered the favorite to win the starting job heading into camp.
Lamb is entering the final year of a contract extension he signed in 2015 and will be seeking a raise from his salary of just under $7.5MM. Charlotte will have a tight cap situation heading into the summer with Kemba Walker also as a free agent. With Batum, Monk and Dwayne Bacon as alternatives as shooting guard, the team may decide not to spend big on Lamb.
Bonnell offers more news on the Hornets in the same piece:
- Expect Frank Kaminsky to see more minutes at center in the preseason, and that could wind up being his primary position in the future. Kaminsky has been used mainly as a power forward during his first three seasons in the league, but the Hornets may want a better outside shooter in the middle after trading away Dwight Howard. Charlotte’s front office will have to decide soon whether to extend a qualifying offer of roughly $5MM to Kaminsky to make him a restricted free agent next summer.
- The Hornets plan to use free agent addition Tony Parker as Walker’s primary backup this season. The longtime Spur will play about 15 to 17 minutes a night and could be used in combination with Walker to close out games. Rookie Devonte’ Graham looked good in Summer League, but Bonnell doesn’t expect him to be given a large role this season.
- Offseason changes may put Batum in position for a bounceback year. The addition of Parker, Batum’s close friend and teammate from the French national squad, should help, as should improved health after Batum missed the entire preseason last year with an elbow injury. Bonnell notes that Batum was an awkward fit with Howard, who liked to dominate the ball in the post and often slowed down the offense.