Last time on Bringing Back the Buzz we looked at players that Charlotte should consider come draft time this summer. This time around we will look at players Charlotte should pursue during free agency this offseason. And things will be a bit realistic for a small market like Charlotte so players like Kevin Durant and LeBron James are immediately off the table for them.
But first things first, Charlotte has the following players as free agents this offseason:
- Troy Daniels
- Jorge Gutierrez
- Nicolas Batum
- Tyler Hansbrough
- Al Jefferson
- Courtney Lee
- Jeremy Lin (Player Option)
- Marvin Williams
Out of the following players, Charlotte should really look at bringing back Jeremy Lin, Marvin Williams and Nicolas Batum.
For Lin, a journeyman point guard, he may have finally found a home in Charlotte off the bench behind Kemba Walker. He’s averaging near his career averages off the bench this season with 11.8 points, 2.9 assists and 3.1 rebounds and has been a solid sixth man and backup point for the Hornets this season.
In Williams, Charlotte has a solid stretch power forward that allows Frank Kaminsky to develop further as a player and work towards being a more solid contributor for the Hornets. This season alone Williams has averaged 11.6 points, 6.6 rebounds and 1.0 blocks per game while shooting near 40% from the 3-point arc this year.
Finally, with Batum, the Hornets would lose a great amount of production if they were not to bring him back to Charlotte. Batum is vital to the team’s success and has really bounced back from his down season last year in Portland while playing the best basketball of his career in Charlotte. Batum has averaged 15.2 points, 6.2 rebounds and 5.8 assists this season for Charlotte along with great defense as well.
After addressing their needs with the players already on their team, here are some players the Hornets should target this offseason in order to help produce a championship caliber team:
Source: USA Today
Hassan Whiteside – C, Miami Heat, 26 Years Old, 7’0”, 265 Lbs.
With the possible departure of Al Jefferson and Cody Zeller being more of a stretch power forward for Charlotte, the Hornets should really consider Heat center Hassan Whiteside. At 26 years old Whiteside recently took the NBA by storm last season after being a relative unknown out of the University of Marshall. This season alone Whiteside has averages of 14.1 points, 11.8 rebounds and 3.8 blocks per game for Miami and is constantly improving his game. While he would be hard to pry away from Miami they would be seriously strapped for cash this offseason trying to pay for the money Whiteside would demand (probably a max contract) and Charlotte should really consider adding the unrestricted free agent. In Charlotte, Whiteside would be a huge success as a defensive anchor and would immediately boos their odds of becoming title contenders paired with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Cody Zeller in the frontcourt. Plus, Whiteside is on the younger side and will fit in nicely with the other young pieces in Charlotte.
Source: USA Today
Dwight Howard – C, Houston Rockets, 30 Years Old, 6’11”, 265 Lbs.
In the previous article in this series it was mentioned that the Hornets should embrace their youth movement but in the event that they do draft Diamond Stone 21st overall they should not throw a raw and young player like Stone into the fire immediately. Instead, they should sign Dwight Howard and allow Stone to develop as Howard’s backup in Charlotte. According to reports around the web, Howard’s relationship with Rockets co-star James Harden is on the fringe of being beyond repair and a change of scenery would do Howard a lot of good. He also has a strong bond with Charlotte coach Steve Clifford as Clifford served as an assistant during both Howard’s Orlando and Los Angeles days. This season Howard has averaged 13.8 points, 11.8 rebounds and 1.6 blocked shots for Houston and his defensive impact would immediately be felt in Charlotte. This signing would make great sense for the Hornets in the event they did draft Diamond Stone this summer.
Source: USA Today
Gerald Henderson – SG, Portland Trailblazers, 28 Years Old, 6’5” 215 Lbs.
Bringing back the guy you traded packaged with Noah Vonleh for Nicolas Batum? Crazier things have happened and the Hornets should most definitely consider bringing back Henderson to Charlotte. While Batum is having a career year in Charlotte Henderson has been having a down year in Portland; only averaging 8.8 points, 3.0 rebounds and 1.0 assists in 20.0 minutes per game this season. If Henderson returned to Charlotte he would be a great piece off the bench behind Nicolas Batum and would be able to provide solid defense and scoring alongside Jeremy Lin. It would be beneficial for both sides if Henderson returned to Charlotte this season and with having a down season Henderson could come in at a cheaper contract for Charlotte.
Whiteside, Howard and Henderson are just some of the players that Charlotte should consider looking at this offseason in free agency. In a perfect world Charlotte would be a near championship contender if the team looked like this after the draft and free agency period:
Source: Evan Dammarell
With this thirteen man roster Charlotte would have a great mixture of youth and veterans that allow the younger players to further develop and grow as players and to further cement them as one of the NBA truly elite teams. While the veterans are able to come in right away and contribute.
What Rich Cho has in plan for Charlotte this summer will truly show his skill as a GM since the Hornets are at a crossroad with one path leading towards a possible championship and the other leading towards consistent mediocrity as a franchise that never makes it past the first round. Things are going to be exciting in Charlotte this offseason and hopefully the hive will be loudly buzzing for the 2016-17 NBA season.
Part III of Bringing Back the Buzz will cover possible trade scenarios that would send Charlotte completely over the top of the level of an NBA Championship team.