2019 NBA Offseason Salary Cap Digest: Charlotte Hornets

Despite having had Kemba Walker under contract at a rate of $12MM annually for the last four years, the Hornets were unable to build a legit contender around him, loading their cap with long-term, oversized contracts for role players. Now, after another season in the lottery, the Hornets enter the summer with many of those pricey contracts still on their books and Walker headed for unrestricted free agency.

Here’s where things currently stand for the Hornets financially, as we continue our Offseason Salary Cap Digest series for 2019:

Guaranteed Salary

Player Options

Team Options

  • None

Non-Guaranteed Salary

Restricted Free Agents

Unrestricted Free Agents / Other Cap Holds

Projected Salary Cap: $109,000,000
Projected Tax Line: $132,000,000

Offseason Cap Outlook

  • Realistic cap room projection: $0
  • If Williams or Kidd-Gilchrist unexpectedly opt out, perhaps the Hornets could carve out a little cap room. But assuming both players return, Charlotte would only be able to get up to about $8.2MM in cap room by renouncing all their free agents and waiving all their players on non-guaranteed contracts. The mid-level exception will be worth more than that, so the Hornets figure to just remain over the cap.
  • Should the Hornets re-sign Walker to a maximum salary contract, they’ll likely have to shed a little salary to stay out of tax territory.

Cap Exceptions Available

  • Trade exception: $7,819,725 (expires 7/6/19)
  • Mid-level exception: $9,246,000 5
  • Bi-annual exception: $3,619,000 5


  1. Parker’s salary becomes fully guaranteed after July 4.
  2. Hernangomez’s salary becomes fully guaranteed after June 28.
  3. Bacon’s salary becomes fully guaranteed after August 1.
  4. Roberts’ and Paige’s cap holds remain on the Hornets’ books because they haven’t been renounced after going unsigned in 2018/19. They can’t be used in a sign-and-trade deal.
  5. These are projected values. If the Hornets are at risk of going into tax territory, they may forfeit the bi-annual exception and have to use the taxpayer mid-level exception ($5,711,000) rather than the full mid-level exception.

Note: Minimum-salary and rookie-scale cap holds are estimates based on salary cap projections and could increase or decrease depending on where the cap lands.

Salary information from Basketball Insiders and RealGM was used in the creation of this post. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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7 thoughts on “2019 NBA Offseason Salary Cap Digest: Charlotte Hornets

  1. I still have no idea why Cha decided to trade Howard for Mozgov instead of trying to just buy Howard out. Just another short sided move

  2. Hornets were in the luxury tax with Howard. Choices to get off it were to W&S Howard (8 mm for 3 years), or trade for a guy like Moz (16 mm for 2 years) or BB (17 mm for 2 years). They picked up four 2nd round picks in the two deals, and got 5 mm in cash from the Nets. Hornets have done some horrible deals over the years, but these two are only shortsighted if you take the view they should have paid luxury tax last year (keep or buyout Howard doesn’t really matter). Nets had the flexibility to buyout Howard without either tax or future obligations; Hornets didn’t.

    • FromTheCheapSeats

      That’s good analysis. Lost in that is that the acquisition of Howard in the first place wasn’t as bad as most people think. Howard actually had a good year.

      The problems Charlotte faces now are because of unforgivably bad deals given to guys they – literally – can’t pay anyone to take.

      And as much as I’m sure Jordan wants to win a ring, it’s pretty obvious that there a limits in terms of how much profit he’s willing to sacrifice. It’s gonna be a brutal offseason in NC.

  3. D$!LLKU$H-og

    I could see CHA talking to BKN again and seeing what assets they can get for taking back Crabbe. Maybe a Marvin Williams and 46th pick for Crabbe and 27th pick. They need good young players on cheap contracts and end of 1st round picks are just that.

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