Written by Paul Banks of the Washington Times, David Kay and Peter Christian of the The Sports Bank. Send Paul an e-mail here: paulb05 AT hotmail DOT com.
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Charlotte Hornets (Last Year: 21-61)
2012-13 Season Summary:
A year after finishing with the worst win percentage in NBA history, the Hornets made massive strides by finishing with the SECOND worst record in the league. (I really hope everyone read that with the sarcasm that I wrote it with.) You know what is not a winning formula; allowing more points than any other team in the league and scoring the second least total points. No wonder Mike Dunlap didn't make it past year one as head coach.
Kemba Walker was pretty much the same player from his rookie season, except he was more so thrust into the go-to scoring option with Gerald Henderson trying to serve as the second banana. 2012 NBA Draft No. 2 overall pick Michael Kidd-Gilchrist had an okay rookie season, while second-round pick Jeffery Taylor proved to be a great value selection. Byron Mullens showed steady promise as inside/outside threat and Bismack Biyombo provided some defensive prowess inside.
Everyone else on the roster is a temporary fix, including veterans Ramon Sessions, Ben Gordon, and Brendan Haywood. Tyrus Thomas remains one of the worst contracts in the NBA as he is still has two years and $18 million remaining, which is thievery for someone who played in just 26 games and averaged a measly 4.6 points per game this past season. For a franchise deep into a rebuilding effort, there isn't a ton of hope surrounding this Charlotte team.
2013-14 Projected Depth Chart:
C: #Byron Mullens/Brendan Haywood
PF: Bismack Biyombo/Tyrus Thomas/Jeff Adrien
SF: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist/Jeffery Taylor
SG: *Gerald Henderson/^Ben Gordon
PG: Kemba Walker/Ramon Sessions
NBA Free Agents:
#C-Byron Mullens (RFA)
*SG-Gerald Henderson (RFA)
^SG-Ben Gordon (ETO)
PF-Josh McRoberts (UFA)
C-DeSagana Diop (UFA)
SF-Reggie Williams (UFA)
PG-Jannero Pargo (UFA)
2013-14 Team Salary: Approximately $41.1 million
NBA Offseason Team Needs:
1. Draft Wisely:
After a stretch of pretty awful drafts, (Sean May, Adam Morrison, Brendan Wright, Alexis Ajinca were first-round picks between 2005-2008 and all busts) Charlotte has landed some quality talent the past few years; Henderson, Walker, Biyombo, Kidd-Gilchrist, and Taylor. However, the Hornets haven't hit the homerun needed to find that true franchise player. It's unlikely they can find a star player in this weak class (Ben McLemore or Anthony Bennett will likely be their targets at No. 4), but adding a Walker instead of Morrison is needed to help the rebuilding effort.
2. What to do with RFA's?:
As painful as is to say, Mullens and Henderson were two of Charlotte's more productive players and both are restricted free agents this offseason. Since the Hornets have zero chance of luring in any quality free agents with their cap space, they might be forced to re-sign both players to lengthy, overpriced deals. Because let's be honest, nobody wants to play for Charlotte without making some serious coin.
3. Low post scorer:
Even with Mullens' development the past two seasons, he still doesn't give the Hornets a true low post scoring option. Biyombo, Haywood, and Thomas certainly don't fit that mold either. What Charlotte could use is a true offensive threat on the block to take some pressure off of the guards.
It was a curious move when an NBA team hired a college assistant last offseason to become its new head coach. That didn't turn out well, or last long, and now, the Hornets will be looking for their fourth head coach in four seasons. Michael Jordan and the front office need to find an up-and-coming head coach who can help try and turn the ship around. Constant change isn't going to help this team climb up from the bottom of the Eastern Conference.
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