Charlotte Hornets

2017 Offseason In Review: Charlotte Hornets

Hoops Rumors is breaking down the 2017 offseason for all 30 NBA teams, revisiting the summer’s free agent signings, trades, draft picks, departures, and more. We’ll evaluate each team’s moves from the last several months and look ahead to what the 2017/18 season holds for all 30 franchises. Today, we’re focusing on the Charlotte Hornets.

Signings:MCW vertical

Camp invitees:

Trades:

Draft picks:

  • 1-11: Malik Monk — Signed to rookie contract.
  • 2-40: Dwayne Bacon — Signed to three-year, minimum salary contract. Third year non-guaranteed.

Departing players:

Other offseason news:

  • Assistant general manager Chad Buchanan hired away by the Pacers.

Salary cap situation:

  • Remained over the cap all offseason. Carrying approximately $116MM in guaranteed salary, pushing them close to the tax line.
  • Portion of mid-level exception ($4.89MM) and full bi-annual exception ($3.29MM) still available.

Check out the Charlotte Hornets’ full roster and depth chart at RosterResource.com.


Story of the summer:

The Hornets followed up a feel-good return to relevance with an uninspired effort last season, leaving fans of the rebranded franchise wondering if the club’s brief dalliance with the postseason was anything more than a simple aberration.

In the wake of that 2016 playoff appearance, the club lost a handful of impactful veterans, won 12 fewer contests, and ultimately returned to the lottery wondering what went wrong.

This summer, then, served as a critical indicator of the club’s frame of mind heading forward, and it didn’t take long for general manager Rich Cho to make it loud and clear that he has no intention of blowing up the squad’s current core anytime soon.

The Hornets were aggressive this summer, pulling off one of the biggest heists of the offseason, drafting pragmatically, and generally supplementing their lineup with genuinely complementary players.

At a time when most fringe playoff squads with little cap flexibility might consider blowing things up and starting a new Process, that’s inspiring in itself.

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Dwight Howard Considered Retirement In 2015

Dwight Howard considered retirement following his disappointing 2014/15 campaign, Lee Jenkins of Sports Illustrated passes along in a full-length piece that’s worth a read. Injuries certainly played a role in Howard evaluating that option, as he missed 41 games because of knee issues in 2014/15. Other factors, including his fit on the Rockets and his mindset toward the game of basketball, also were major factors.

“The joy was sucked out of it,” Howard said about his mindset toward the game that season.

The former No. 1 overall pick signed a four-year deal with Houston during the summer of 2013 and the team expected him to mesh well with rising star James Harden. The Harden-Howard pairing never came together as the franchise had hoped for, though the team attempted to create chemistry between the two by setting up a meeting during the 2014/15 season. Harden reportedly explained to Howard that he wanted the big man to set stronger screens and be a tougher rim protector, and Howard reportedly didn’t provide much of a response. One team source tells Jenkins that the gathering felt more like an intervention than a typical NBA player meeting.

Howard acknowledges that his communication skills are partially to blame for him not working in Houston and previously in Los Angeles.

“When I don’t like what’s going on, I tend to shut down, put my headphones on and ignore everything. I don’t talk about things. That happened to me in L.A. It happened to me again in Houston. I should have communicated better,” Howard said.

The big man was traded to the Hornets this offseason just one season into a three-year contract with the Hawks. Charlotte will be the center’s fourth team since he forced a trade from the Magic back in 2012.

NBA’s Board Of Governors To Examine Revenue Sharing System

ESPN’s Zach Lowe and Brian Windhorst have published an expansive and well-researched report on NBA teams’ finances, providing details on the league’s revenue sharing system, the impact from national and local television deals, and how a lack of net income for NBA franchises could push the league toward considering relocation or expansion.

The report is wide-ranging and detailed, so we’re going to tackle it by dividing it up into several sections, but it’s certainly worth reading in full to get a better picture of whether things stand in the NBA. Let’s dive in…

Which teams are losing money?

  • Nine teams reportedly lost money last season, even after revenue sharing. Those clubs were the Hawks, Nets, Pistons, Grizzlies, Magic, Wizards, Bucks, Cavaliers, and Spurs. The latter two teams – Cleveland and San Antonio – initially came out ahead, but paid into the league’s revenue sharing program, pushing them into the red.
  • Meanwhile, the Hornets, Kings, Pacers, Pelicans, Suns, Timberwolves, and Trail Blazers also would have lost money based on net income if not for revenue sharing, according to Lowe and Windhorst.
  • As a league, the NBA is still doing very well — the overall net income for the 30 teams combined was $530MM, per ESPN. That number also only takes into account basketball income, and doesn’t include income generated via non-basketball events for teams that own their arenas.
  • The players’ union and its economists have long been skeptical of NBA teams’ bookkeeping, alleging that clubs are using techniques to make themselves appear less profitable than they actually are, Windhorst and Lowe note. The union has the power to conduct its own audit of several teams per season, and it has begun to take advantage of that power — according to ESPN, the union audited five teams last season, and the new CBA will allow up to 10 teams to be audited going forward.

How does the gap between large and small market teams impact income?

  • Even after paying $49MM in revenue sharing, the Lakers finished the 2016/17 with a $115MM profit in terms of net income, per ESPN. That was the highest profit in the NBA, ahead of the second-place Warriors, and could be attributed in large part to the $149MM the Lakers received from their huge local media rights deals.
  • On the other end of the spectrum, the Grizzlies earned a league-low $9.4MM in local media rights, which significantly affected their bottom line — even after receiving $32MM in revenue sharing, Memphis lost money for the season. The Grizzlies will start a new TV deal this year that should help boost their revenue, but it still won’t come anywhere close to matching deals like the Lakers‘.
  • The biggest local TV deals help drive up the NBA’s salary cap, with teams like the Lakers and Knicks earning in excess of $100MM from their media agreements. According to the ESPN report, the Knicks made $10MM more on their TV deal than the six lowest-earning teams combined.
  • As one owner explained to ESPN, “National revenues drive up the cap, but local revenues are needed to keep up with player salaries. If a team can’t generate enough local revenues, they lose money.”
  • Playoff revenue from a big-market team like the Warriors also helps push up the salary cap. Sources tell Lowe and Windhorst that Golden State made about $44.3MM in net income from just nine home playoff games last season, more than doubling the playoff revenue of the next-best team (the Cavaliers at about $20MM).

How is revenue sharing affecting teams’ earnings?

  • Ten teams paid into the NBA’s revenue sharing system in 2016/17, with 15 teams receiving that money. The Sixers, Raptors, Nets, Heat, and Mavericks neither paid nor received any revenue sharing money. Four teams – the Warriors, Lakers, Bulls, and Knicks – accounted for $144MM of the total $201MM paid in revenue sharing.
  • While there’s general agreement throughout the NBA that revenue sharing is working as intended, some teams have “bristled about the current scale of monetary redistribution,” according to ESPN. “The need for revenue sharing was supposed to be for special circumstances, not permanent subsidies,” one large-market team owner said.
  • The Grizzlies, Hornets, Pacers, Bucks, and Jazz have each received at least $15MM apiece in each of the last four years via revenue sharing.
  • However, not all small-market teams receive revenue-sharing money — if a team outperforms its expectations based on market size, it forfeits its right to that money. For instance, the Thunder and Spurs have each paid into revenue sharing for the last six years.

Why might league-wide income issues lead to relocation or expansion?

  • At least one team owner has raised the idea of expansion, since an expansion fee for a new franchise could exceed $1 billion and it wouldn’t be subject to splitting 50/50 with players. A $1 billion expansion fee split 30 ways would work out to $33MM+ per team.
  • Meanwhile, larger-market teams who aren’t thrilled about their revenue-sharing fees have suggested that small-market clubs losing money every year should consider relocating to bigger markets, sources tell ESPN.
  • As Lowe and Windhorst observe, the Pistons – who lost more money than any other team last season – are undergoing a relocation of sorts, moving from the suburbs to downtown Detroit, in the hopes that the move will help boost revenue.

What are the next steps? Are changes coming?

  • The gap between the most and least profitable NBA teams is expected to be addressed at the NBA’s Board of Governors meeting next week, per Lowe and Windhorst. Team owners have scheduled a half-day review of the league’s revenue sharing system.
  • Obviously, large- and small-market teams view the issue differently. While some large-market teams have complained about the revenue sharing system, they’re outnumbered, with smaller-market teams pushing those more successful clubs to share more of their profits, according to ESPN.
  • Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen is one of the loudest voices pushing for more “robust” revenue sharing, sources tell ESPN. Some team owners have argued that the system should ensure all teams make a profit, while one even suggested every team should be guaranteed a $20MM profit. There will be “pushback” on those ideas, Lowe and Windhorst note. “This is a club where everyone knows the rules when they buy in,” one owner said.
  • On the other end of the spectrum, some teams have floated the idea of limiting the amount of revenue sharing money a team can receive if it has been taking payments for several consecutive years.
  • Any change to the revenue sharing system that is formally proposed at the NBA’s Board of Governors meeting would require a simple majority (16 votes to 14) to pass.

Poll: Charlotte Hornets’ 2017/18 Win Total

The Hornets have bounced up and down the Eastern Conference standings over the last five years, with their win total going from 21 to 43 to 33 to 48 to 36 during that stretch. While last year’s 36-46 record was a disappointment, Charlotte has reason to believe that better things are in store for the 2017/18 season.

Although the Hornets didn’t make major changes to their roster, the moves they did make look like good ones. A trade with the Hawks that sent Miles Plumlee and Marco Belinelli to Atlanta cost the club some outside shooting, but allowed Charlotte to acquire Dwight Howard, who should be an upgrade up front over Plumlee.

Meanwhile, the Hornets were able to replace some of that outside shooting in the draft, nabbing Malik Monk – who was viewed by most experts as a probable top-10 pick – with the No. 11 selection. Charlotte also made a savvy second-round pick, scooping up promising rookie Dwayne Bacon at No. 40.

While the Hornets made a few solid roster moves, the team didn’t have the cap flexibility to make any major splashes, and there are still question marks at some spots on the roster. Charlotte struggled to get reliable point guard production behind Kemba Walker last year, for instance, and while the team addressed that issue in free agency by replacing Ramon Sessions and Brian Roberts with Michael Carter-Williams and Julyan Stone, MCW is battling injuries again, and Stone hasn’t played in an NBA game since 2014.

Oddsmakers are optimistic about the Hornets’ chances of improving over last year, with offshore betting site Bovada putting their over/under at 42.5 wins.

What do you think? Does a seven-game improvement on last season’s record seem reasonable for the Hornets, or are there still too many areas of concern on the roster for the club to rack up 43 or more wins? Vote below and share your thoughts in the comment section!

Trade Rumors app users, click here to vote.

Previous over/under voting results:

Luke Petrasek Headed To Camp With Hornets

Columbia forward Luke Petrasek will join the Hornets for training camp, tweets Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer.

Petrasek was a second-team all-Ivy League selection as a senior last season. He averaged 15.1 points and 5.7 rebounds and ranks fifth on the school’s all-time blocked shots list.

Following Saturday’s signing of Terry Henderson, the Hornets are now at the maximum of 20 players for camp. Charlotte has just 13 guaranteed salaries, so there will be at least two roster spots up for grabs.

Hornets Notes: Monk, Lamb, Batum, Howard

The Hornets’ choices for backup point guards were influenced by the drafting of Malik Monk in the first round, writes Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer. In a mailbag column, Bonnell states that because Monk is an undersized shooting guard with defensive limitations, the team needed larger point guards to pair with him who are better at stopping opponents. That’s why they signed Michael Carter-Williams and Julyan Stone, both 6’6″, when other options were available.

Another factor was cost, as Charlotte was concerned about staying under the luxury tax threshold of about $119MM and was financially limited after trading for Dwight Howard‘s $23.5MM salary. Carter-Williams agreed to a one-year, $2.7MM deal in July, while Stone accepted a minimum-salary contract in August after negotiating a release from his team in Italy.

Bonnell offers more insight into the Hornets:

  • Monk should be fully recovered from a sprained left ankle that caused him to miss the Orlando Summer League. The 11th overall pick suffered the injury during a draft workout and was sidelined for several weeks, which coach Steve Clifford said affected his conditioning. Monk probably won’t see a lot of playing time early in the season, Bonnell writes, but he should be fully healthy for the team’s October 18 opener.
  • Jeremy Lamb has impressed the coaching staff with his work this offseason, but he’s not a threat to take Nicolas Batum‘s starting job. Lamb has been a valuable reserve during his two seasons in Charlotte, and Bonnell says the team needs Batum’s playmaking skills and overall versatility in the starting lineup.
  • The roles of the big men haven’t been firmly established heading into camp. Howard is expected to start at center with Marvin Williams at power forward, but Cody Zeller and Frank Kaminsky could both make a push for more playing time. Howard’s reputation as a poor free throw shooter could limit his fourth quarter minutes, just as it did in Atlanta, with Zeller getting more use late in games.

Hornets Sign Terry Henderson

The Hornets have signed undrafted rookie Terry Henderson to their 20-man offseason roster, according to a tweet from his agency, Assist Sports (Twitter link). RealGM’s official NBA transactions log confirms that the signing has been finalized.

Henderson, 23, began his college career at West Virginia, but transferred after his sophomore year and played the rest of his college ball at North Carolina State. The move to N.C. State was a homecoming for the 6’5″ shooting guard, who is a Raleigh native — he’ll remain in North Carolina after having signed with his hometown Hornets.

In his final college season, Henderson appeared in 32 games, averaging 13.8 PPG, 3.1 RPG, and 1.6 APG, with a shooting line of .433/.384/.769. NCAA eligibility and transfer rules prevented Henderson from returning to the Wolfpack for one more year in 2017/18, as Luke DeCock of The Charlotte Observer detailed in the spring.

While the Hornets only have 13 players on fully guaranteed contracts at the moment, Henderson seems more likely to head to the G League and become an affiliate player for the Greensboro Swarm than he does to crack the team’s 15-man regular season roster.

Southeast Notes: Howard, Richardson, Oubre, Spoelstra

Dwight Howard will suit up for his fifth team in seven seasons as he prepares for a new start with the Hornets. The 31-year-old has been an effective player, when healthy, but has regressed from the player that was an MVP candidate in Orlando.

Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer writes Howard views his opportunity with the Hornets as a chance to reestablish himself. Under the guidance of his former and current coach Steve Clifford, Howard feels he can prove doubters wrong and prove to himself he can still be a productive player.

“This opportunity for myself to really get back everything that I would say has been taken away. I’m not too much worried about the naysayers, the rankings and stuff, but just the hearts of the people,” Howard said. “I’m in a much better place mentally, physically and spiritually than I have been in a couple of years.

Despite the downward trend in recent years, Howard posted 13.5 PPG and 12.7 RPG while scoring from the floor at a 63% clip last season in Atlanta. Charlotte has a need for defense and that is one part of Howard’s game that remains a threat.

Read more news around the Southeast Division below:
  • In a separate column, Bonnell writes that the Hornets did not have much financial flexibility to acquire a premier backup point guard after acquiring Howard. That led to the signings of Michael Carter-Williams and Julyan Stone; one player who has not done much since winning Rookie of the Year and the other hasn’t played in the NBA since 2014.
  • In his latest Ask Ira column, Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel writes that Josh Richardsons four-year, $42MM contract extension is a worthwhile investment for the Heat. While he may not consistently crack the starting lineup, Richardson will be a key part of the team’s core going forward, Winderman adds.
  • Heat coach Erik Spoelstra and Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni shared the honors of the new Michael H. Goldberg NBCA Coach of the Year Award, NBA.com’s Steve Aschburner writes.
  • Chase Hughes of CSN Mid Atlantic writes that Kelly Oubre, after a productive sophomore season in Washington, will be one of the team’s most vital players. Hughes notes that Oubre is the “most athletic player and best wing defender” on the Wizards‘ bench and will need to be consistent in that role to help the team.

Southeast Notes: Incentives, Gortat, Kidd-Gilchrist

The Heat found a creative way to pad the contracts of their offseason signees, Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel writes, by loading the deals with impressive bonuses and incentives. Dion Waiters, for example, can net over $1M in addition to his traditional $11M deal by simply appearing in 70 or more games this season.

While Waiters only appeared in 46 contests last year, thereby making this an “unlikely” incentive, he played in 70-plus in each of the four seasons prior to 2016/17. Other sorts of bonuses offered include one that would reward Kelly Olynyk should the Heat make the playoffs and another that would sweeten James Johnson‘s deal provided he meets certain body-fat measurement requirements.

Such contractual maneuvers aren’t new for the franchise, Winderman writes, noting that the Heat employed similar tactics, tying routine weigh-ins to retired point guard Tim Hardaway‘s deals.

Incentives are officially classified as “unlikely” if the condition was not met in the previous season. Unlikely incentives do not count toward a team’s salary cap at the time of the signing but they do at the end of the season if the conditions are met. This allowed the Heat flexibility to successfully juggle their returning free agents.

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • The Wizards decided this offseason to stick with their plan of gradually developing their young core, Shaun Powell of NBA.com writes. While they may have been able to skip the line in the East by going out and acquiring an additional star, the Wizards’ patience could pay off in the long run.
  • A healthy Ian Mahinmi will eat into Marcin Gortat‘s role with the Wizards, Chase Hughes of CSN Mid-Atlantic writes. At the end of last season, Gortat expressed doubt about his future in Washington, though he said last month that he’s fully committed to the franchise.
  • Without being asked, head coach Steve Clifford has reiterated that Michael Kidd-Gilchrist will start at small forward for the Hornets, Tom Sorensen of the Charlotte Observer writes. Concern over the 23-year-old’s offense has some wondering if he may be better suited for a reserve role.

Malik Monk Continues To Struggle With Ankle Injury; Starting Lineup Updates

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