3 players the Hornets must sign in 2021 NBA free agency
It’s no question that the Charlotte Hornets front office will head to the free agency with one mission in mind: get the right set of players who can complement LaMelo Ball’s playstyle. After all, the incoming second-year man has proven that the hype surrounding him all these years is real. He’s one heck of a playmaker armed with an equally potent individual offensive game.
More than giving Ball the player he needs, the Hornets will also target free agents who can develop into a player of his own making. Luckily for the team, there are three good options for them in this year’s batch of free agents.
Let’s walk through some of them and discuss what they can bring to the Hornets’ goal of becoming a solid contender in the East.
Duncan Robinson is going to be a restricted free agent this offseason, and the sharpshooter is expected to entertain all options–which is good for rebuilding teams like the Hornets. After all, Duncan is bar-none the best shooter among this year’s crop of free agents. Last season, he knocked down a total of 250 triples (fourth in the league) on 40.8 percent shooting. He might also be the target of several playoff teams.
There have been concerns about his lack of defensive presence or the fact that he’s a 3-point assassin and nothing more. While these observations have some truth in them, Robinson’s compatibility with LaMelo Ball’s playmaking skill will more than makeup for everything. It’s easy to imagine LaMelo dishing it out to a wide-open Robinson all day. It’s common sense to give a natural-born playmaker a pure shooter. Both Ball and Robinson will thrive off each other. And even if he’s not wide-open, the 27-year-old will have no problems. He has mastered the art of quick release.
Analysts reveal that Robinson might be worth $20 million per season and the Hornets have the cap space to acquire him. The Heat have the right to match the offer, which may be the ultimate barrier for the Hornets. But given the immediate impact Robinson can bring, giving him the contract he wants won’t hurt one bit.
Richaun Holmes’s stock has been on the rise for a very good reason. He has grown to be a dependable big man of both ends of the floor. The 6-foot-10 center has developed a fluid two-man game with guards and averaged 14.2 points in 2020-21. On defense, he averaged 1.6 blocks last season, which makes him one of the best rim protectors around.
Apart from what he brings to the floor, Holmes is an unrestricted free agent which means he can sign with another team with ease. The Sacramento Kings will have no “right of first refusal.”
Reports reveal that Holmes is looking to net some $45 million to $50 million over four years, which is right around what solid centers make. The only thing that’s stopping the Hornets from acquiring Holmes is that contending teams might be eyeing him as well. But as it stands, Holmes is a great piece to have not just to complement Ball but also as a cornerstone piece.
Among the players in this list, Daniel Theis may be the most affordable and feasible free-agent target. The aforementioned players will be highly sought after, both by rebuilding and contending teams. However, this doesn’t make him the least valuable target. As noted, the Hornets need some bulk in the paint. Bismack Biyombo is good but he’s not enough to cover the paint on defense. Theis, who stands 6-foot-8 and is built like a tank, will offer great resistance on defense.
Cody Zeller has done well for the Hornets. He’s going to be a free agent and so Charlotte should grasp this opportunity to make a little tweak by replacing him with Theis. While they are pretty similar players, Theis has accumulated significant playoff experience over the last few years in his stint with the Boston Celtics. This makes him a lot more valuable than Zeller. You cannot discount the nuggets of wisdom that Theis has gained during those postseason campaigns. Every single one of them will be useful to this Hornets squad that’s still developing its identity.
Theis was randomly traded to the Chicago Bulls at the trade deadline. He made good work there by making it to the starting five almost immediately. While the Bulls are also a solid up-and-coming team, there’s no denying that the Hornets possess more upside than them.
It remains to be seen what the Hornets will do, but we can all expect some key moves aimed at bolstering the team.