Charlotte Hornets

NBA free agency: Charlotte Hornets, armed with plenty of cap space, hope to score big

rbonnell@charlotteobserver.comJune 28, 2014 

Charlotte Hornets general manager Rich Cho is quite good at mining information, if not so quick to share it – at least with media.

So it was understandable Friday that his answer, regarding the start of free agency July 1, would be generic.

“We’ve been preparing for the draft and free agency for the last year. We have a definite game plan for free agency,” Cho said. “July 1 we can start negotiating with free agents, July 10 we can start signing them.”

The Hornets had a big draft night Thursday. They selected power forward Noah Vonleh and shooting guard P.J. Hairston, addressing stated needs for more size and better 3-point shooting.

In a subtler move, the Hornets agreed to send the player they chose 45th overall, Stanford power forward Dwight Powell, to the Cleveland Cavaliers. In return, the Cavs agreed to absorb the remaining $2 million in salary the Hornets owe center Brendan Haywood.

Once that deal goes through (it can’t happen until the salary-cap year changes July 10), the Hornets should have roughly $15 million in cap space to spend on free agents or to facilitate trades. Team owner Michael Jordan has big hopes for what the Hornets can do in free-agency, after signing center Al Jefferson a year ago.

“I think Big Al proved you can come here and make a big difference,” Jordan said June 9 at a charity appearance. “Hopefully we can look at that and attract some other superstar.”

Then Jordan added, “I think we’ll try to improve on what we did last year, which I’m very proud of.”

After two miserable seasons in which the then-Bobcats went 28-120, they recovered in 2013-14 to finish 43-39 and qualify for the playoffs, where they were swept by the Miami Heat.

It was a start built around Jefferson and new coach Steve Clifford. As well as the Bobcats played defense last season, they weren’t effective enough offensively to excel. That’s an area where free-agency can provide help.

Clifford said Friday the team obviously needs a backup point guard. He also said he’d like a player who can fill multiple positions and add to the scoring.

Who’s out there? A look at some point guards and wing scorers, listed alphabetically, who hit free-agency this week:

Point guards

Steve Blake, Warriors, 11 NBA seasons. Statistics from last season: 6.9 ppg., 5.6 apg. Comment: There’s a lot of mileage on Blake’s body. Would this be Luke Ridnour all over again?

Darren Collison, Clippers, five seasons. Stats from last season: 11.4 points, 3.7 assists. Comment: His best move might be returning to the Clippers unless some team offers him a chance to start again.

Kirk Hinrich, Bulls, 11 seasons. Stats from last season: 9.1 ppg., 3.9 apg. Comment: His defensive versatility allows him to play both guard spots.

Shaun Livingston, Nets, nine seasons. Stats from last season: 8.3 ppg., 3.2 apg. Comment: His 6-foot-7 height would be a nice contrast to 6-1 starter Kemba Walker.

Patty Mills, Spurs, five seasons. Stats from last season: 10.2 ppg., 1.8 apg. Comment: He played well for San Antonio in the championship run.

Ramon Sessions, Bucks, seven seasons. Stats from last season: 12.3 ppg., 4.1 apg. Comment: He said after the trade to Milwaukee he’s receptive to re-signing in Charlotte.

Wing scorers

Trevor Ariza, Wizards, 10 seasons. Stats from last season: 14.4 ppg. 6.2 rpg. Comment: Washington figures to make a hard push at retaining him.

Luol Deng, Cavaliers, 10 seasons. Stats from last season: 16.0 ppg., 5.7 rpg. Comment: His production slipped after the trade from Chicago to Cleveland.

Gordon Hayward, Jazz, four seasons. Stats from last season: 16.2 ppg., 5.2 apg. Comment: He’s a restricted free agent, so Hornets would have to overpay in the form of an offer sheet to have any chance of outbidding Utah.

Anthony Morrow, Pelicans, six seasons. Stats from last season: 8.4 ppg., 1.8 rpg. Comment: This Charlottean is a career 43 percent shooter from 3-point range.

Chandler Parsons, Rockets, three seasons. Stats from last season: 16.6 ppg, 5.5 rpg. Comment: He’s restricted. Unless the Rockets get Carmelo Anthony, they figure to pay big to retain Parsons.

Lance Stephenson, Pacers, four seasons. Stats from last season: 13.8 ppg, 7.2 rpg. Comment: Pacers’ Larry Bird has made it clear the team will pay what it takes to re-sign him.

Rick Bonnell: (704) 358-5129; @rick_Bonnell

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