The NBA playoffs are just getting started, but for the Charlotte Hornets, it's time to start looking forward to next season. This past season was disappointing, but that's unfortunately the standard the organization holds itself at. It's been since 2016 since we have seen the purple and teal in a playoff series, and since NBA basketball came back to Charlotte in 2004, the team hasn't won a single playoff series and has only made three trips to the playoffs. We are the laughing stock of the NBA.
The Hornets are no longer paying Nic Batum, finally. Before the 2020 season, the Hornets were finally able to get Batum off the roster, but not off their payroll. Last season he made roughly $19.6 million. $8.8 million of his total contract was being paid by the Hornets. From 2016 to 2020, the Hornets paid Batum between $20.8 million and $25.5 Million. During that time, he averaged over 12 points per game in just one season.
The Hornets are constantly signing players for more money than they should make. I'll never understand why they signed Batum for that much money since he only averaged 11.2 points per game during his time in Portland. They took a shot with Gordon Hayward and paid him $29.9 million last season, and he's produced, but not enough to get paid that much money. Nevertheless, I'm just happy Batum is finally off the payroll.
Lamelo Ball is entering the last season of his rookie contract with the Hornets. We know that the Hornets are willing to pay stupid money on average at best basketball players. I'm not confident that Ball will be interested in staying in Charlotte, but the Hornets should offer him the most money they can to incentivize him to stay.
Charlotte has never had a star like Lamelo Ball come through the organization, and assuming he stays healthy, if Ball continues to play like he has been playing, he will be an excellent star to build around for years to come. Not only is he good for on-the-court production, but he's also good for business, which is why the Hornets need to hold onto him.
There are a few players from Charlotte that'll be heading to free agency this summer. Notably, P.J. Washington, Kelly Oubre, and Dennis Smith Jr. will look for new teams to call home. Heading into the offseason, the Hornets will have a little over $30 million to play with and will have two starters that they need to replace at the power and small forward positions, and it would be nice for them to have a true center better than Mark Williams.
This season is Steve Clifford's last season contracted with the Hornets. I do not think we should have hired him again, but he's back, so we have to deal with it. In his nine seasons as a head coach, he has had three winning seasons, four visits to the playoffs, two with the Hornets, and two with the Magic, and he has never gotten past the first round. Unless he has an astronomically different season this year, I would be insanely disappointed if the Hornets offered him another contract.
This past season it was announced that Michael Jordan was considering selling his share of the Hornets. Since the announcement back in March, there has been no new news on this topic. I would love to see a new owner step in and turn the franchise around. While Jordan was a competitive player, I question how important winning is to him as an owner. As long as the team makes him money, I don't think he cares much.
I'm not sure this upcoming season could get much worse than last season. The Hornets have never made big moves on their roster (at least in my lifetime). The bar is set so low for this team, and another year we miss the playoffs is just another year. We have missed seven straight playoffs, and change has got to be made. Charlotte needs a winning team. North Carolina needs a winning team.