When the news broke that Josh McRoberts was going to become a member of the Miami Heat the city felt pain. The city continued to receive more bad news when the Utah Jazz announced that they were going to match Gordon Hayward’s offer sheet from Charlotte.
That next name that Michael Jordan talked about pairing with Al Jefferson went from promising to bleak.
Little did fans know that good news would be around the corner.
Despite conflicting reports on whether or not Lance Stephenson would be likely candidate for the Hornets, yet again Rich Cho rose to the occasion signing Stephenson to a three-year $27 million dollar deal with the third year being a team option.
Going into the draft the Hornets where looking to add length and size to the front court, and a perimeter scoring threat that can knock it down from long range. Both needs were addressed in forward Noah Vonleh of Indiana and guard PJ Hairston of North Carolina.
Neither of the two draftees are finished products but having Patrick Ewing on staff for Vonleh and Mark Price for Hairston, the young talents have the right tools surrounding them to evolve into quality basketball players.
Losing McRoberts to the Miami Heat was a curve ball that many didn’t expect to see coming, but instead of sulking Rich Cho went out and brought in stretch-four Marvin Williams of the Utah Jazz. Though Williams is a solid forward in this league, Charlotte will miss McRoberts’ four assist average.
Many expected Roman Sessions to return as the backup point guard including myself, but the Hornets took a different route rather Sessions, Brian Roberts of the New Orleans Pelicans was added to the roster. Roberts averaged nine points and three assists for the Pelicans last season.
There just wasn’t one homerun signing, quality pieces were also added that fit both style of play and team needs.
Charlotte now has a go to player in Jefferson, a solid point guard in Kemba Walker a defensive stopper in Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and a legitimate shooting guard in Stephenson. The Hornets are ready to compete for a top-four seed in the Eastern Conference. Cho was vocal about achieving Charlotte’s next goal of having homecourt in the playoffs, he’s put together a product that’s capable of taking that next step.
For those who are curious about Kidd-Gilchrist’s shooting motion, he and assistant coach Mark Price have removed the “hitch” to a much smoother shooting stroke.
It would have been easy for the Hornets’ front office to accept just making the playoffs, but rather than becoming complacent, they became aggressive on the free-agent market. When McRoberts left they found a replacement, then after losing out on Hayward they turned to plan B.
All three team needs were addressed this offseason of signing a talented wing, adding length and depth to the frontcourt and finding a backup point guard.
Whether or not you’re a fan of the moves that have been made this offseason by Rich Cho you have to appreciate his efforts of improving this roster.
Charlotte may have lost some toughness in McRoberts, but gained some nasty in Stephenson.
ESPN 730 Charlotte Hornets Insider and Blogger
There's a reason PJ Hairston was taken in the latter part of the first round of the NBA Draft, it wasn't due to his performance on the court, but his actions off the court.
Hairston will be charged with assault and battery for an altercation at a Durham YMCA on Sunday. Hairston will not be arrested, but will appear in court in August.
Is anyone shocked?
Just last week Hairston was introduced to the Charlotte media after being traded to the Hornets from a deal done with the Miami Heat for Shabazz Napier.
Leading up to the draft Hairston’s name was a likely candidate being brought up due to his UNC ties, and the fact that he can shoot the basketball, something that is much needed in Charlotte.
As much as many UNC and Hornet fans wanted Hairston in Charlotte, they also knew of the baggage that he would come with stemming from his troubles at UNC.
As expected Hairston said all of the right things about how he changed his life around, and that’s he ready to move forward. I believe him about him being a changed man, but I also knew if anything would happen it would occur in the Greensboro/Durham area. When the news broke Sunday on the altercation, I wish I could say I was shocked, but I’m not. When he should have been in Charlotte, he was home.
What’s the kicker is that mini-camp begins this afternoon for the summer league. Today should be a day where Hornet fans should be excitement about Cody Zeller, Noah Vonleh and Hairston all taking the floor together, but that’s not the case. Hairston will be stuck answering questions about his fight in a YMCA rather how his first NBA practice went.
Many feared Charlotte taking Hairston due to the close proximity of Greensboro to Charlotte. Personally I don’t even know why he was in Greensboro over the weekend with mini-camp beginning this week, though I understand that's where he's from.
For Hairston to remain free of negativity off the court, he needs to stay away from home as much as possible. I understand he wants to remain loyal to his city, but loyalty is overrated when the cause that hinders you no longer benefits you.
ESPN 730 Charlotte Hornets Insider and Blogger
Many believe that timing is everything, there also are many that believe timing means nothing if you don’t take advantage of the opportunity.
The Charlotte Hornets took advantage of being in the situation of succeeding when it wasn’t expected, but now the expectations are there from the front office of Michael Jordan and Rich Cho to Steve Clifford and his players.
The Hornets won’t take the floor until late October early November, but the offseason is when you make your move.
Outside of Miami, Chicago Indiana and possibly Brooklyn the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference is up for grabs.
Two teams in the Eastern Conference are treading in the right direction, the Washington Wizards and Charlotte Hornets.
Making the playoffs as the seventh seed was a step in the positive direction, after winning 21 games in the 2012-13 season, but you must continue to press forward. You have the name back, the coach in place, and the support of not only the city of Charlotte, but also the Carolinas, its time you take that next step.
Charlotte needs a legitimate shooting guard, another big for depth in the frontcourt then secure a more than serviceable backup point guard.
With the ninth overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, there have been talks that the Hornets have their eye on both Doug McDermott and Nik Stauskas. If the two are available, my choice would be to take Stauskas rather McDermott. Both players can shoot the ball, which is one of Charlotte’s glaring needs, but what separates the two is that Stauskas has the ability to put the ball on the floor creating his own shot. I’m not so confident that McDermott can create his own shot against NBA defenders, but I could be wrong.
As for adding depth to the frontcourt, Adrien Payne of Michigan State would a solid pick at the 24 spot. I doubt Payne will be still be on the board at 24, but I’m sure either Mitch McGary or Johnny O’Bryant will be possibly be available at 24 if not 45. There’s no doubt in my mind that a deal will get done to re-sign Josh McRoberts, but the Hornets will need one more big. I wouldn’t be opposed to bringing back Jeff Adrien, he’s a high energy big that can come off the bench providing rest for either Al Jefferson, McRoberts or Cody Zeller.
Two names come to mind for the backup point guard position: Roman Sessions and Steve Blake. Sessions is the more likely of the two, but I wouldn’t be too quick to eliminate the talks of Blake as a candidate. Sessions played well while in Charlotte, providing a spark off the bench in combination with providing veteran leadership for Kemba Walker. With Sessions being open to returning, I’m sure Rich Cho will be giving his agent phone call.
Though the draft is where the Hornets will take some steps in upgrading their roster, free agency is also around the corner. Michael Jordan has been vocal as of late in adding a free agent in the same ballpark of Jefferson. Lance Stephenson did lose some money with his antics in the playoffs, but one thing you can’t forget is that the kid can ball, and he’s definitely an upgrade from Gerald Henderson. Gordon Hayward is a name to also keep in mind, he’s a restricted free-agent, meaning Utah has the opportunity to match any offer a team throws his way. Either of the two wings can come to Charlotte and easily push the Hornets into the conversation for one of the top-five teams in the Eastern Conference.
This summer including the draft, free agency and how the players improve during the off-season will be the determining factor on how the Hornets come out the gate. If Charlotte misses in both the draft and free agency, then the players on the current roster don’t continue to improve, that excitement that once was paramount can possibly go dormant.
The timing couldn’t be better for an organization that is moving in the right direction in a conference that if you take care of business you can consistently be a top four to five seed for years to come.
In three to five years from now will be talking about the Hornets consistently fighting for the seventh or eighth seed? Or home court advantage?
ESPN 730 Charlotte Hornets Insider and Blogger
Are you familiar with the names of Gary Harris or Nik Stauskas? If not familiarize yourself with the names. Harris and Stauskas are two viable options for the Hornets selecting ninth to address the need at the shooting guard position.
Over the course of this offseason the team will need to address the need at shooting guard, adding another forward and signing a backup point guard. The shooting guard and forward can be taken care of through the draft with the three picks of ninth, 24th and 45th. The need at backup point guard can be secured through free-agency with Roman Sessions being interested in returning.
As the ten year era of heartache in the form of the Bobcats came to an end, the second chapter can now begin with the Hornets officially being back in Charlotte.
In the same day of welcoming the Hornets, the Basketball Gods were on Charlotte’s side with the Hornets moving up into the lottery with the ninth overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, thanks to the Detroit Pistons falling out of the top eight selections.
Al Jefferson and Kemba Walker are a nice center/guard combination going forward, but the time is now that Charlotte addresses the shooting guard position or lack thereof despite the re-signing of Gerald Henderson last offseason. Henderson played well this past season, but pulled a disappearing act in the playoffs against Miami.
One thing that Charlotte lacked this past season was a shooter than can provide floor spacing to make things easier for Jefferson and Walker. Gary Neal and Anthony Tolliver did what they could shooting 38 and 41 percent respectively, from behind the arch, but the two are role players not starters.
If the Hornets are going to continue to make strides in the right direction, they’ll have to make the right pick at the nine.
Harris out of Michigan State averaged 16.7 points on 43 percent shooting during his sophomore year playing under Tom Izzo. Harris is looked at as a guy who’s an above average penetrator with a high motor. Harris is projected to go in the top-10 falling to 14th at the lowest, he’s a good ball player, but I don’t know if he’s who Charlotte should take at nine. Henderson can get to the rim also, but can’t stretch the floor which is needed.
A name that you’re going to hear pretty often is Stauskas of Michigan who’s dynamite from being the arch. In Stauskas’ two years at Michigan he shot the ball 44 percent from three, raising his scoring average for 11 points to 17.5. If you watched him in his two years at Michigan you know the guy is a big time competitor who can also put it on the floor having the ability to create his own shot. He’s not afraid of the big stage with his most recent performance of 24 points against Kentucky in the Elite 8 despite losing 75-72.
With the ninth pick in the 2014 NBA Draft the Charlotte Hornets select… Who will it be Harris or Stauskas?
ESPN 730 Charlotte Hornets Insider and Blogger
"They're in the right direction," were the words of LeBron James on the future of Charlotte going forward. "Obviously their signing of Al Jefferson was big time for their franchise, Kemba is going to improve, and the rest of those guys will follow lead."
Though they played as hard as they possibly could even making it interesting multiple times the Bobcats just didn't have enough falling to the Miami Heat in four games. Monday night officially put an end to the Bobcats season, along with an era known as the Charlotte Bobcats.
At the start of the season if I told you that the Charlotte Bobcats would win 43 games to make the NBA Playoffs as the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference would you have believed me?
The idea alone was so far-fetched that the word playoffs and Bobcats wouldn't have come up in the same sentence.
Even with the free-agency signing of old-school scoring center in Al Jefferson and rookie head coach Steve Clifford, the idea of moving in the right direction was the topic of conversation, but not playoffs.
The Eastern Conference didn't have the year it expected with many of the teams coming out of the gates slow, but that didn't stop Charlotte from competing.
The Bobcats bought into Clifford's philosophy of focus on controlling: attitude, conditioning preparation and effort. Night in and night out Charlotte did just that, despite not being one of the more talented teams around the league the Bobcats made up for their lack of talent with effort. The Bobcats gave up only 97.1 points per game in the regular season, which was the fourth-lowest average in the NBA. When you play good defense that consists of effort, Charlotte's effort on the defensive end was evident all season long.
To win in the NBA you need one of two: a dynamic backcourt or play great team defense. Charlotte has one of the two, meanwhile championship teams have both. The Miami Heat who just swept the Bobcats in four have both.
Kemba Walker is a more than serviceable point guard that has shown he can play at a high level in this league, his wingman of Gerald Henderson has not. Henderson is a solid shooting guard, but the Bobcats need more. Miami made Jefferson pass, and shadowed Walker leaving Henderson left to make plays, but it never happened. Henderson is not a bad shooting guard, he'd be perfect coming off the bench for a contending team, but he just isn't enough for what Charlotte needs going forward.
You have a star center in Jefferson, a rising point guard in Walker a defensive stopper in Michael-Kidd Gilchrist and a handyman in Josh McRoberts. The Bobcats are missing one more ingredient in a consistent third scoring option. Earlier in the season coach Clifford said that the Bobcats aren't built to score a lot of points, but if they want to continue to make strides they'll need to find more ways to put the ball in the basket.
Tonight the Charlotte Bobcats era is officially over a 10-year span of heartache with zero wins in their two playoff appearances. Though it ended on somewhat of a high note, the city is ready to embrace their first love of the Charlotte Hornets.
“If you want to be successful you have to win in the playoffs, this was a good first step," said Clifford. "We have a lot of guys who I think need to have good summers, we need to find ways to get better. That will determine a lot of what it iswhat we can become for next year."
ESPN 730 Charlotte Bobcats Insider and Blogger