Michael Jordan and the Charlotte Bobcats are looking to the past, changing their name back to the Charlotte Hornets after New Orleans became the new joke of the league by switching their nickname to the Pelicans. Caught up? Good.
Despite the new mascot, the Charlotte Hornets enter the off-season in a similar position as the past decade or so; trying to find some sort of way to turn the corner and become a relevant basketball team. Unfortunately, there is no quick fix to solve the problem.
Charlotte Hornets (21-61 last year)
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. Number two 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 while 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 Hornets team.
2012-13 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)
2012-13 Team Salary: Approximately $41.1 million
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, MK-G, and Taylor. However, they 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 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 the Bobcats’ more productive players and both are restricted free agents this off-season. Since Charlotte has 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 the Bobcats unless they are making some serious coin.
3. Low post scorer: Even with Mullens’ development the past two seasons, he still doesn’t give Charlotte a true low post scoring option. Biyombo, Haywood, and Thomas certainly don’t fit that mold either. What the Hornets could use is a true offensive threat on the block to take some pressure off of the guards.
4. Stability: It was a curious hire when an NBA team hired a college assistant last off-season to become their new head coach. That didn’t turn out well or last long and now the Charlotte 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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David Kay is a senior feature NBA Draft, NBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank. He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities. David has appeared on numerous national radio programs spanning from Cleveland to New Orleans to Honolulu. He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft and the most accurate 2012 NBA Mock Draft on the internet (Yup, repeat champ… #humblebrag.)
You can follow him on Twitter at David_Kmiecik.