Five Questions For The Hornets This Offseason

Jason Huber
June 04, 2020 - 6:37 pm

The Charlotte Hornets were a longshot to make the 2020 NBA Playoffs, but their season was cut short by 17 games to finish with a 23-42 record.

As the NBA is set to continue their season on July 31 in Orlando with only 22 of the league's 30 teams, the Hornets will now continue their offseason after the season was suspended in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

A year after losing all-star Kemba Walker, there were a lot of promising moments that the Hornets showed throughout the 2019-20 season but also a lot of questions still to be answered.

Here are five question marks entering the offseason: 

1. What happens at the center? 

There are a lot of pieces that need to be addressed this offseason but one of the most glaring holes on the roster is the absence of a reliable starting center.

Cody Zeller, Willy Hernangomez and Bismack Biyombo were a part of a rotating cast this season but despite some solid rebounding numbers, neither proved they can be the long-term solution at the position. 

Biyombo and Hernangomez are free agents and Zeller, who is injury-prone, seems to have maxed out on his potential with the role of a backup in the league likely being his future. 

© Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports
© Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

While a lot of the league is moving towards small-ball, the presence of a big man in the middle is still needed for some defensive schemes.

A multi-faceted center that can score the ball and play well on defense creates an even better dynamic that the Hornets could use. 

Is it possible Charlotte finds that in the draft? James Wiseman, anyone? 

2. What do you do with Miles Bridges and PJ Washington? 

When Charlotte drafted Washington last summer, some questioned why general manager Mitch Kupchak would draft a player with such similar skills to Bridges, their lottery pick the year prior. 

Washington exceeded expectations with a solid rookie year and now the Hornets are left with a good problem.

What do you do with two similar starting-caliber forwards? 

Head coach James Borrego tested out different lineups including both being on the court together but it doesn't seem like a long-term solution.

It would seem like Washington has the highest-upside but that also means he could have the most trade offers. 

Kupchak has assets in the two young forwards to possibly work out some trades and it'll be worth keeping an eye on this offseason. 

3. What happens with Malik Monk?

The Hornets have been waiting three years for Monk to finally break out and right when he started to show potential late in the season, he was suspended indefinitely for violating the league's drug program. 

© Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports
© Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports
There is no time-table for when Monk can return with the only details noting that he must be in full compliance with the league's program.

Charlotte exercised Monk's rookie contract in October, giving them control over him for the 2020-21 season with $5.3 million guaranteed, but are they wanting to keep him around?

Monk received trade interest before his suspension but it seems unlikely any team would want to take a chance on him until they see he has gotten his act together. 

4. Do the Hornets try to spend big in free agency?

Assuming the league doesn't alter how much teams have to spend this summer, the Hornets will have some of the most space in the league. 

If Nic Batum opts in the final year of his awful contract, Charlotte is expected to have nearly $30 million of cap room.

However, not only is Charlotte not a very appealing destination for free agents, the 2020 free-agent class is nowhere near as talented as the 2021 class is expected to be. 

Should the Hornets try and sign a few one-year deals and continue to re-build next season or should they try to sign a big-fish? 

Kupchak has said multiple times that teams build through the draft and savvy trades, meaning he may not think a big free agent is the best move at this time. 

5. What happens at point guard?

Another "good" problem for the Hornets this offseason is figuring out where to go next at the starting point guard position. 

Charlotte signed Terry Rozier to replace Walker last offseason but with Devonte' Graham's sudden emergence, Rozier was shifted to more of a shooting guard role and head coach James Borrego had to play a lot of small-ball down the stretch. 

While not publically saying it this season, Rozier has said in the past that he believes he is more of a point guard.

Rozier's shooting percentage and numbers actually got better while playing the two-guard this season but he may not want to continue playing there, leaving Charlotte to consider trading him. 

© Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports
© Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

It also has to be asked whether Graham is the answer at point guard? 

Despite his breakout season, Graham fell into a lot of shooting slumps and is already 25-years old.

If a player like Cole Anthony is on the draft board when the Hornets select, Kupchak will have a big decision to make.  

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