Hornets Rumors: Kemba, Vets, Future Plans, McDaniels

Hornets president of basketball operations Mitch Kupchak tells Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer that the team was somewhat blindsided by Kemba Walker earning All-NBA honors and becoming eligible for a super-max contract earlier this year. Although Walker wasn’t demanding the full super-max (approximately $221MM over five years), the gap between what he sought and what Charlotte was willing to offer was too significant to bridge the gap.

“We had great years with him, and we didn’t get into the playoffs,” Kupchak said of the All-Star point guard. “What makes us think that next year (would) be different? I’ve got to step back and look at where we’ve been and where we’re going. Chart out a course that gives us the best chance to build something that is sustainable for more than a year or two.”

The Hornets have faced criticism for not getting what they could for Walker in a pre-deadline trade in February, but Kupchak tells Bonnell that the club was confident in its chances of re-signing Kemba at that point and wasn’t impressed with the offers it received on the trade market.

“Almost every offer revolved around draft picks. It was always lottery-protected,” Kupchak said. “When you do something like that, you’re saying you’re going to draft a player in the teens, we don’t know how good he’s going to be, and it’s going to take three or four years (to realize value). We wanted to keep Kemba — under the right conditions.”

We don’t know the specifics on what the Hornets were offered for Walker, so we’ll take Kupchak at his word that those offers didn’t provide enough value to be worthwhile.

Still, it’s fair to take the front office to task for the assertion that it didn’t see Walker’s All-NBA nod and super-max eligibility coming. The former UConn standout scored 41 points on opening night last fall and played at an elite level all season, singlehandedly keeping Charlotte in the playoff hunt. To claim the team was blindsided by Kemba’s super-max eligibility is either disingenuous or signals a worrisome lack of foresight.

Here’s more from Bonnell on the Hornets:

  • Head coach James Borrego is under no obligation to give significant minutes to Nicolas Batum, Bismack Biyombo, Marvin Williams, Cody Zeller, and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who will earn a combined $85MM in 2019/20. “I’m not going to coach a team based on contracts, what you’re making, where you were drafted, if you were drafted,” Borrego said. “To me, that’s not my job. My job is to get the most out of them, whether they were drafted or not drafted.”
  • While those veterans will get a chance to compete for roles, Borrego wants to make sure the team’s young prospects play consistent minutes, either in Charlotte or in the G League. “We’re not going to have draft picks on our bench who are just sitting there,” the head coach told Bonnell. “If they’re not playing meaningful minutes for us in Charlotte, I promise you they will be playing minutes in Greensboro.”
  • The Hornets “didn’t even contemplate” using their mid-level exception this offseason, according to Kupchak, who explained to Bonnell that no one in that price range would have “changed the course of this organization.”
  • The Hornets also won’t rely on free agency going forward to reshape their roster, preferring instead to use any future cap flexibility to re-sign young players or to accommodate trades. “Free agent signings, for us, are not something we need to concentrate on going forward. We’re not going to get the ‘Big Fish,'” Kupchak said. “We have to create a culture where those kinds of players would want to come here. And, quite frankly, we’re not there yet. For us to hoard cap room (for that purpose) is not in the best interest of the organization.”
  • In a tweet, Bonnell adds a couple more Hornets-related items, reporting that there’s no indication the club is involved in ongoing trade talks that would jettison a veteran contract. Additionally, Charlotte would like to get unsigned second-rounder Jalen McDaniels locked up in a developmental role, per Bonnell. It sounds like the team’s preference may be for McDaniels to sign a G League contract.
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18 thoughts on “Hornets Rumors: Kemba, Vets, Future Plans, McDaniels

    • Charlotte thought they could resign him so on that alone, they aren’t going to take an offer that they perceive to be bad. In regards to the offers, all we can do is take Kupchak’s word at this point unless something else comes out to prove him wrong. If the only offers are lottery protected picks (likely with future protections as well), there’s not a whole lot of incentive to make that type of deal. This draft was also considered pretty weak with a clear top 3 (Zion, Ja, RJ) and some decent/okay looking lottery picks and that’s about it.

      • x%sure

        I think GMs are blowing smoke with that “weak draft” line. It was solid through the second round. I guess I didn’t know that in February but surely there was a good offer from someone.

  1. acarneglia

    Charlotte made the playoffs twice in 8 years with Kemba. Never getting farther than game 7 in the first round. Couldn’t trade him, because of the bad press with the deadline being before all star weekend in Charlotte

    • Senioreditor

      Couldn’t is incorrect, didn’t want to is more accurate. I suppose all the press and season ticket sales will be great now that they got nothing in return and won’t sniff the playoffs. Jordan and Kupchak a winning combination.

      • Senioreditor

        Oh wait I misspoke, they did get something, the overpaid for Rozier AND gave Boston a second round pick.

  2. joeyrocafella

    Hold on… Kupchak was “BLINDSIDED” that Kemba earned an All-NBA spot?? Blindsided? Did he watch his own team last year? Blindsided? This is unbelievably irritating to see that our GM seems so incompetent that he doesn’t see the type of year/player that he has on his own roster…

  3. DynamiteAdams

    I don’t get the decision to not max Kemba yet give Terry Rozier 19 million a year, especially if they’re trying to rebuild now. Honestly I feel like the Hornets want to be consistently 7th-11th in the Eastern conference standings.

    • Michael Jordan wants to make money not win rings as an owner. He has enough rings and accolades. Ownership Rings wouldn’t mean much to Michael Jordan at this point. He wants to build wealth.

  4. Other than Batum and Zeller (both 2 years) all those vets are on expiring deals Williams (15M) , MKG (13M) and Biyambo (17M). Obviously this team isn’t going to get a big name free agent so why don’t they try trade some of these guys and get something back.

    Even something like Marvin Williams for Kent Bazemore, Gary Trent Jr and a second round pick. Swap 1 years deals but give Portland an upgrade at PF. Williams also helps stretch the floor for them, and you get back Trent Jr and a second. The Hornets get back a young shooter in Trent Jr and a second which is nice.

    They could do MKG for James Johnson and a second round pick. Johnson is a really good locker room guy which is nice for a young Charlotte team and he’s not bad as a player. He could be a good vet leader for PJ Washington and you also get a second round pick. The Heat get a small contract and a 1 year deal with MKG and someone who can play 3/4 with good defence.

    Lastly, Maybe if you want to improve you give up a second round pick that you’ve got and do Biyambo and a second for Schroder. You take back a 2 year deal and give the Thunder a 1 year deal but you get back a good PG to compete with Rozier and it makes your team better.

    Then you end up with a roster like

    1. Rozier. Schroder. Graham
    2. Bazemore. Monk. Trent Jr
    3. Bridges. Batum. Martin. Bacon
    4. Washington. Johnson
    5. Zeller. Hernagomez. Welsh

    That to me is a good mix of vets a young players 2 vets start, 3 off the bench. You have a good mix of decent defenders, decent shooters and everyone should get some touches. As for rebuilding you have a young PG, two young SGs, 3 young SFs, a young PF and a young ish centre. So entering the draft you probably want to get a centre to replace Zeller. But you have a good PG and good forwards to build with

  5. x%sure

    I like how Luke took a chiding turn regarding the Hornets’ FO.

    It is certainly the trendy thing for Kupchak to say he wants to build culture and hold out for a star that changes things. Then when you get one you want two then three. Develop players for their trade value. Blah blah.

    I would have loved to accumulate players drafted in the teens & twenties in the 2019 draft. Langford NAW Bitadze Clarke Williams Porter Edwards… I may have to root for the Celts now, with 3 of those and 4 WC players

    • Yeah think pelicans definitely won the AD trade. Zion Hayes NAW Hart Ball Ingram that’s an amazing young core of players.

      • x%sure

        Interesting to see what they do with Hayes and Favors at the 5. I bet they run Jarrett Allen-like plays for Hayes and Favors thrives on it too. Not sure I want to see ZWill jumping blindly to the rim for short lobs though if there is a lot of feet around to land on.

        Charlotte’s best player is now… Cody Zeller? Run stuff his way!

      • Feel really unsure about Zions fit. He’s a great dunker but he’s a tad short for PF, I can see him being a LeBron like SF but Ingram is there and I doubt they want to have Zion Favours and Hayes all on together cause that just cloys the paint.

        I feel like Jaren Jackson Jr would be a good player to have next to Zion at either SF PF or PF C. And was thinking obviously the Grizzlies like Jackson but they also got Summer league MVP Brandon Clarke who plays PF. Maybe The Grizzlies would accept Brandon Ingram and Josh Hart for Jaren Jackson. The idea of Morant and Ingram together does sound good and Josh Hart suits any system really.

        Plus Ball NAW Zo Jackson and Hayes sounds really good. Plus vets Holiday Reddish and Favours that’s a solid team. The Griz would have Morant Hart Ingram Clarke and back ups Grayson Allen Tyus Jones and Kyle Anderson, that’s also a good young team on the rise

        • x%sure

          They could trade JJJ if Clarke is so good but that would have to be made clear first.

  6. Jason Lancaster

    “We’re not going to get the ‘Big Fish,’” Kupchak said.

    Wonder how Jordan feels about that comment. I guarantee he thinks he can get the big fish…

    • That could be true because of his Winner’s mentality but it doesn’t translate to Jordan as a front office executive. Reality is how many big fish has Michael Jordan signed, ever ? Ever ?

      • Jason Lancaster

        Ya, I’m not saying that Charlotte is going to sign any big fish. Just thinking that Jordan doesn’t like hearing his pres of basketball ops say “no one good wants to play for this franchise” so clearly.

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