The Charlotte Hornets secured their first winning record since the 2015-16 season while earning a spot in the NBA’s Play-In Tournament against the Atlanta Hawks, a game that is set to tip-off on Wednesday night. One of the biggest reasons the Hornets are where they are is because of young forward Miles Bridges, who enjoyed the best season of his young career. Bridges, 24, could be eligible for a big payday as a result of his excellent 2021-22 campaign, per Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer.

Bridges is clearly the present and future wing Charlotte wants to develop alongside Ball. After Bridges’ camp declined a four-year, $60 million contract offer last fall, sources confirmed, he is expected to command a maximum salary that could total five years, $173 million this summer. League personnel believe the Hornets will match any offer sheet for Bridges. That could either dissuade teams from making an earnest attempt at signing him, unnecessarily tying their hands for 48 hours. Or it may encourage a rival suitor to force Charlotte to pay his full max, as the Brooklyn Nets once did with Washington and Otto Porter.

Per Fischer, Bridges, whose team declined the Hornets’ four-year, $60 million extension offer, could make as much as $173 million over five years in a max salary.

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The talented forward will be a free agent this offseason, so the Hornets could essentially match any contract offer that Bridges receives. In either event, the Michigan State product is likely to command a hefty salary.

Coming off of a season that saw him average 20.7 points, 7.0 rebounds, 3.8 assists, and 1.9 three-pointers made per game, it’s hard to argue that the Hornets forward wouldn’t be worth it. Especially considering his best days are ahead of him.