After seemingly turning the corner by going 48-34 with a playoff berth in the 2015-2016 NBA season, the Charlotte Hornets posted back-to-back disappointing years.
Going 36-46 in 2016-2017, they finished 11th in the Eastern Conference. This season, they matched that mark, going 36-46 once again, this time finishing in 10th place.
With Kemba Walker, Dwight Howard, Nicolas Batum, Marvin Williams, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Cody Zeller, Jeremy Lamb, Frank Kaminsky, Malik Monk, Willy Hernangomez, Dwayne Bacon and Julyan Stone all under contract for next season, the team runs the risk of looking extremely similar next year.
Just Michael Carter-Williams, Treveon Graham, and G-Leaguers Mangok Mathiang and Marcus Paige are the only ones not signed.
After the team parted ways with coach Steve Clifford and brought in former Los Angeles Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak and former San Antonio Spurs assistant James Borrego to be the new head coach, it seemed as though the organization was going to turn over a new leaf and start fresh.
However, it doesn’t sound like that’s going to happen, at least in terms of the roster.
“There is no master plan to blow up this team right now,” Kupchak said during the team’s news conference to introduce Borrego, per Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer.
Overall, Kupchak and the Hornets front office explained to Borrego that they’d have very little flexibility due to their contractual obligations for next season. They project to be over the salary cap and close to the luxury-tax threshold as it currently stands.
“When he was hired, the understanding is he is going to coach the players (already) on this team and the players we bring into this team going forward,” Kupchak explained regarding Borrego’s willingness to coach the team’s current roster.
Of course a trade or two could certainly shake things up and it’s important to note that Kupchak included “right now” at the end of his statement dismissing a blow-up. That allows him to backtrack somewhere down the line.
Once the NBA lottery results are announced next week, the Hornets will find out where they’re selecting at the top of the first round. With a number of high-profile targets to choose from in this year’s class, they’ll most likely have a chance to take someone who could help out their squad immediately.
It will be fascinating to see if Kupchak sticks to his word or whether he decides to make radical changes during his first summer in Charlotte. Judging by the insanely-high salaries that he'd have to part with, it seems like he might not have a choice but to stick with the current set-up.
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