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The Charlotte Hornets’ 5 worst free agent signings of all time, ranked

The Charlotte Hornets haven’t had much success over the course of their history. They have been especially bad with Michael Jordan as its team owner. It’s safe to say that the consensus greatest player of all time hasn’t seen as much success making decisions as an owner or general manager as he did playing basketball on the court.

From a guy who selected Kwame Brown first overall in the 2001 draft, Jordan also owns some questionable free agency signings with the Hornets. Here are the five worst free agency signings in Charlotte Hornets history.

Lance Stephenson

Lance Stephenson turned in a career year with the Indiana Pacers and the Charlotte Hornets handed him a 3-year, $27-million contract. At the time, this seemed like a bargain deal for the Hornets, as Stephenson, 24 at the time, cemented himself as a well-rounded guard in the NBA.

However, despite putting up career-highs across the board with Indiana in the 2013-14 season, Stephenson struggled in his first season with his new team. His numbers regressed from 13.8 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 4.6 assists with the Pacers to 8.2 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 3.9 assists in 2014-15 with the Hornets.

Seeing that the fit just wasn’t there for their supposedly prized free agency signing in 2014, the Hornets moved on from Stephenson after just one season into his deal.

Tyrus Thomas

Y’all remember this guy? Tyrus Thomas was a highly-touted forward in the 2006 draft, getting selected fourth overall. Thomas got by with his energy especially on the boards, but other than his hustle, he didn’t bring much else to the table.

The-then Charlotte Bobcats acquired the 6-foot-10 forward in a mid-season trade in 2010. After averaging 10.1 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks in the 25 games he played in Charlotte in the 2009-10 season, the Bobcats re-upped him to a five-year, $40-million deal the following summer. Unfortunately, Charlotte never saw a full season from Thomas as he struggled with injuries. He only played in 121 out of a possible 246 games from 2011 to 2013.

The Bobcats released Thomas in the 2013 off-season. He was essentially out of the league after his stint in Charlotte.

Marvin Williams

The Hornets initially signed Marvin Williams to a two-year, $14-million deal in 2014. He turned in two solid seasons, averaging 11.7 points and 6.4 rebounds as a full-time starter in the 2015-16 season.

Charlotte seemed to like what they saw from the veteran forward and re-upped him to a massive four-year, $54.5 million deal in the big bucks summer of 2016. For someone who averaged just 10.5 points through his career at that point, it definitely seemed like a massive overpay on the part of the Hornets to retain their starting power forward. However, that 2016 off-season saw nearly everyone get a huge paycheck.

Williams served as their starting power forward from 2016-17 to 2018-19, starting all of his 229 appearance through those three seasons. He turned in averages of 10.3 points and 5.6 rebounds while shooting 43.3 percent from the field in those three years. In the 2019-20 season, however, the Hornets turned into a youth movement. Williams saw his minutes dwindle to less than 20 a game as he moved into a veteran bench role. On February 8, the Hornets bought out Williams and the 33-year old signed with the Milwaukee Bucks a couple of days after.

Terry Rozier

In the summer of 2019, the Hornets were on the verge of losing All-Star point guard Kemba Walker to the Boston Celtics. So, Charlotte “retaliated” by signing Boston’s own free agent point guard. However, that point guard wasn’t Kyrie Irving, one of the most sought after free agents in that year’s class. The Hornets, in a sign-and-trade deal, inked former Celtics back-up Terry Rozier to a massive three-year, $57 million contract.

Many thought this was an outrageous signing for the Hornets, considering the fact that they low-balled Kemba Walker big time, offering him $60-million less than the potential max deal. Certainly, it didn’t make sense to a lot of people how the Hornets weren’t willing to give their star point guard the max, when they did so with a player who has spent his entire career as a back-up point guard.

To be fair, Rozier is turning in a pretty solid first season for the Hornets. In 63 games this season, Scary Terry averaged 18.0 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 4.1 assists. As many expected, he struggled with efficiency from the field as he shot just 42.3 percent overall.

Nonetheless, given Charlotte’s standing as one of the worst teams in the East, it’s safe to say Rozier’s numbers are pretty hollow. Likewise, Rozier certainly isn’t the franchise star that will turn the Hornets’ fortunes around, but they sure are paying him like one.

Nicolas Batum

Like Marvin Williams, Nicolas Batum also received a hefty payday from the Hornets in the 2016 offseason. After trading for the all-around forward in 2015, Charlotte re-signed him to a massive 5-year, $120-million contract. Other teams around the league were reportedly willing to offer him big bucks, as well, that summer, so this forced Charlotte’s hand to sign him to the huge deal.

To be fair, Batum was a very well-rounded player at the time and he was just 28 years old when they signed him to that deal. However, the Hornets certainly did not anticipate his hard fall over the years.

Batum actually had a solid season in the first year of this hefty deal. He turned in one of his most productive campaigns (15.1 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 5.9 assists), albeit on poor efficiency (40.3 percent field goal shooting). Unfortunately for the Hornets, Batum productivity and efficiency fell from the following season onward.

He struggled through injuries in 2017-18 as his numbers dipped to 11.6 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 5.5 assists, still on poor efficiency. The following year, his averages fell to 9.3 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 3.3 assists. Obviously, this isn’t the type of production the Hornets would want from someone making $24-million annually.

This season, with the Hornets embracing a youth movement, they relegated the veteran wing to the bench. He has only played 22 games this season, with career-low averages across the board, all while getting paid $25.5 million this season. Batum still has one year left on his deal, where he will make roughly $27.1 million in 2020-21. Yikes.