As Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer notes, Hornets president of basketball operations Mitch Kupchak has talked in recent months about the team’s top priority being retaining young talent, rather than going out and signing veteran free agents. In the early going this season, second-year point guard Devonte’ Graham has emerged as the sort of player worth investing in, with averages of 18.0 PPG and 7.3 APG through 11 games.
If the Hornets do want to lock up Graham, they’ll have to wait to do so, writes Bonnell. Non-rookie-scale contracts can’t be extended until at least two years after they were signed, so Graham won’t become extension-eligible until next July, when he enters the final year of his current deal.
At that time, the Hornets would be able to offer him a four-year extension with a starting salary worth up to 120% of the NBA’s estimated average salary. A similar extension going into effect in 2020/21 would be worth approximately $51.4MM over four years, but that figure will be a little higher in 2021/22. It will be interesting to see over the course of this season whether Graham continues to prove he’s worth that sort of commitment.
Here’s more on the Hornets:
- Graham’s early-season success has overshadowed Terry Rozier‘s first few weeks as a Hornet, but the team’s big offseason acquisition had his best game on Wednesday, matching his career high with 33 points. In a separate article for The Charlotte Observer, Bonnell takes a look at how Rozier can help the Hornets, and how the team might best utilize him and Graham together.
- In his latest mailbag for The Observer, Bonnell tackles a handful of Hornets-related topics, exploring Dwayne Bacon‘s slow start, whether Charlotte should pursue a third point guard, and whether it was ultimately in the franchise’s best interests to move on from Kemba Walker.
- Veteran forward Nicolas Batum, who has been out since opening night with a broken finger, fully participated in practice today and told reporters that he hopes to return on the Hornets’ upcoming four-game road trip (Twitter link). That trip begins on Saturday in New York and ends next Friday in Washington.