Hornets free agency preview: Cap situation, rumors, and important times

It is the eve of the free agency frenzy at the time of this writing. The NBA begins the moratorium period of negotiations (where teams can agree to but not finalize contracts) at 6:00pm on June 30th. However, the beginning of that “negotiation period” often sees a flurry of agreements that were somehow ironed out in just a few short minutes after the beginning of the moratorium. But I digress.

The Hornets usually don’t get a seat at that early frenzy and instead tend to opt for leftovers after everything has calmed down a bit. They also have a somewhat complicated situation to navigate. They have three restricted free agents that they’ve extended qualifying offers to and a roster crunch that’s getting increasingly tight. But before we get into the Hornets-specific stuff, let’s go over the dates and times to be aware of.

Important Dates and Timelines

  • June 30th at 6:00pm Eastern – Teams are permitted to start negotiating with free agents. Players and teams can verbally agree to contracts but no contracts can be officially signed (barring a couple of exceptions). Players can sign offer sheets from other teams. If they do that, their previous team has 48 hours to decide whether to match the offer to retain the player or allow the player to depart for the new team. This is something to watch with Miles Bridges and PJ Washington.
  • July 6th at 12:00pm Eastern – Teams and players can officially sign contracts. Sometimes teams will take longer to do this if they’re trying to make sure they complete a series of transactions in a particular order for cap purposes.

Hornets Free Agents

  • Miles Bridges (restricted)
  • PJ Washington (restricted)
  • Theo Maledon (restricted)
  • Kelly Oubre (unrestricted)
  • Dennis Smith Jr (unrestricted)
  • Svi Mykhailiuk (unrestricted)

The Hornets extended qualifying offers to the first three to retain their restricted free agency, so the Hornets will have the ability to match any contract they receive. Theo Maledon’s situation is a little different since his qualifying offer is for him to return as a two way player (from my understanding of Tweets I’ve read). The Hornets are also free to negotiate contracts with those players independent of any offer sheets from other teams. John Hollinger has Bridges’ value at just under $30 million while Washington’s is a little under $20 million. Those two moves alone put the Hornets over the cap but with plenty of wiggle room under the luxury tax.

The unrestricted free agents seem less likely to return. Smith seems the most likely of the quartet to come back given his expected contract value and positional need. Oubre is superfluous given his probable contract size and the additions of Brandon Miller (definitely) and Miles Bridges (probably) on the wing. There just isn’t space on the roster for Myhailiuk, who at least hopefully earned himself some money with strong play down the stretch last season. If the Hornets do bring Smith back, I’d guess it’d be somewhere in the $5 million range.

Hornets Targets

I wrote an article a few days ago about some veteran targets the Hornets could seek out. They’ll have the full midlevel exception to play with while staying under the tax, which gives them $12.3 million to spend on one or multiple players to fill out the roster. They could be really aggressive with it to try to pursue someone like Bruce Brown, who is going to have a hot market. More likely they’ll target someone more under the radar like Torrey Craig, Seth Curry, or other names we listed in the last post. There will be one or at the very most two free agent signings (barring any unforeseen trade), so don’t expect too much action from the Hornets.

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