2020/21 Salary Cap Preview: Charlotte Hornets

Hoops Rumors is looking ahead at the 2020/21 salary cap situations for all 30 NBA teams. Due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the NBA, it’s impossible to know yet where the cap for 2020/21 will land. Given the league’s lost revenue, we’re assuming for now that it will stay the same as the ’19/20 cap, but it’s entirely possible it will end up higher or lower than that.

Projected by oddsmakers before the 2019/20 season to be the worst team in the Eastern Conference, the Hornets outperformed those low expectations, holding the 10th spot in the East when the NBA suspended play, albeit with an uninspiring 23-42 record.

While this roster isn’t stacked with talent and Charlotte doesn’t have great odds to land a top-four pick in the 2020 draft, the organization is at least getting some money off its books this summer. In addition to getting out from under Bismack Biyombo‘s massive contract, the team also moved on from longtime Hornets Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Marvin Williams earlier this year. With Nicolas Batum‘s $27MM option for ’20/21 still on the books, the slate isn’t entirely clean, but the Hornets should finally have a little cap flexibility going forward.

Here’s where things stand for the Hornets financially in 2020/21, as we continue our Salary Cap Preview series:

Guaranteed Salary

Player Options

Team Options

  • None

Non-Guaranteed Salary

Restricted Free Agents

Unrestricted Free Agents / Other Cap Holds

Offseason Cap Outlook

Although they have less than $50MM in guaranteed money currently committed for 2020/21, the Hornets can expect that number to rise significantly when Batum officially opts in. Throw in Graham’s modest team option and a cap hold for their lottery pick and the Hornets are up near $86MM in guarantees.

Still, that’s not a massive number. Even after accounting for empty roster charges and a potential dip in the ’20/21 cap, Charlotte still projects to have $19-22MM in space to work with. And that number would increase if the cap does.

Cap Exceptions Available

  • Room exception: $4,767,000 5


  1. Graham’s salary becomes fully guaranteed after October 24.
  2. Martin’s new salary guarantee date is unknown.
  3. McDaniels’ new salary guarantee date is unknown.
  4. The cap holds for Mack, Roberts, and Paige remain on the Hornets’ books because they haven’t been renounced after going unsigned in 2019/20. They can’t be used in a sign-and-trade deal.
  5. This is a projected value.

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

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

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13 thoughts on “2020/21 Salary Cap Preview: Charlotte Hornets

  1. acarneglia

    I know it would be crazy for him to turn down that money, but I wonder if Batum would opt out to go actually get playing time somewhere. He could probably get 8-10 million and see 15 minutes a night Vs 0

  2. hiflew

    Given Charlotte’s luck, this weak draft will probably be the one in which they win the #1 pick. It’s not unheard of. I think New Orleans was in the same position last year when they won.

    As far as their cap situation goes, given their history of doling out very overpriced contracts to players, I don’t know if it is a good thing that they have cap room now. They will probably end up giving a player like Malik Beasley $25 million a year and be in the same situation they have always been in. Really good players won’t go to Charlotte at all and you have to overpay the second tier ones to come.

    • Appalachian_Outlaw

      I wouldn’t say really good players wouldn’t go to Charlotte, the situation just needs to be more attractive as far as basketball goes than say LA, New York or Miami.

      That won’t be this off-season, I’ll give you. As a fan, I’m hoping they don’t commit to anyone long-term. Find a nice rebound candidate, over pay for 1 year, and see how it goes.

      They likely add 2 lottery picks over the course of the next 2 drafts. Hopefully by then they’ll have something.

    • Appalachian_Outlaw

      The language in two-way contracts is somewhat complicated, but the short answer is they’re not guaranteed. Players are paid more based on time in the NBA.

      Two-ways also don’t count against the cap, I believe.

    • Luke Adams

      Hmm, that sort of detail is never really reported for two-way contracts since it doesn’t affect the cap at all. It’s probably safe to assume the second year is non-guaranteed though. Even if it’s not, viewing it as such makes sense, since a $50K guarantee isn’t going to stop a team from making a change. So I’m going to move Spalding to that section and will do the same for other two-year two-way guys.

  3. Real 2K Insider

    Biyombo re-signs (something like 2Y / 20M)
    Bacon has QO rescinded UNLESS Malik Monk situation is unresolved.
    Hernangomez signs in Europe for more money than an NBA team is willing to pay.

    • El Don

      Willy is a beast he should be the starting center in Charlotte, way better than Zeller & Biyombo put together.

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