**The following article is an sports blog**
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Just two days after the start of NBA free agency SuperBookUSA has ranked the Charlotte Hornets as the least likely team to win the 2020 NBA Championship, tied with the Cleveland Cavaliers at 1000/1 odds.
To say that this is the icing on the cake for a rough week as a Hornets fan, would be an understatement. The question has arisen, what has happened to our hometown team?
In the last two weeks Mitch Kupchak, Michael Jordan, and the Hornets organization have both confused and broken the hearts of die-hard Hornets fans. It all started on draft night, when the Hornets used their 12th pick on Kentucky Power Forward P.J. Washington.
Confusion emanated through the Queen City when the pick came out, as Washington didn’t check a lot of the boxes that the Hornets were looking to fill. The bewilderment later amplified, when on his first conference call with the media, Washington stated the Hornets had cancelled his pre-draft practice and he had never worked out with the team. To add fuel to the flame that the Hornets were winging it in the draft room, Kuphcak later stated in a press conference that all three of the Hornets picks were likely to spend “maybe lots of time,” with the Greensboro Swarm in the G-League next season. As a team that was just days away from a crucial free-agency decision that would determine the fate of the franchise, one must think that the draft would have been of more value to the front office.
Then, the news all Hornets fans dreaded came in the form of an Adrian Wojnarowski tweet. Kemba Walker, the team’s three-time all-star would be a Boston Celtic, signing a four-year $141 million deal.
This news sent Hornets fans into a frenzy as they tried to understand what had went wrong in negotiations that led to the departure of the beloved Walker, who was always so keen on staying in the city he loved.
The news then broke that the Hornets had proposed a five-year $160 million contract, nearly $61 million less than the qualified supermax deal. Following this offer, Walker notified the team that he no longer wanted to be in Charlotte and was ready to commit to the Boston Celtics.
In an “everything is fine” move the Hornets quickly signed former Boston Celtic guard Terry Rozier to a three-year $58 million contract, to prove to everyone in Charlotte that everything, in fact, is not fine. Rozier, who started in 14 games for the Celtics last season, averaged 9.0 points, 2.3 assist, and 3.9 rebounds a game, a subpar statline to say the least especially for nearly $20 million a year.
Assuming the Hornets are hoping for Rozier to return to his playoff form from two years ago during Kyrie Irving’s absence, this premise may be clouded due to the fact that the complementary pieces on the Hornets are not at the level that the Celtics’ were. The proof is in the pudding that the Hornets have finally pressed the panic button.
It is safe to say that the Hornets are officially in rebuild mode and the thought has been on the minds of Hornets players and staff since the end of the season, as Cody Zeller even mentioned rebuilding in an interview with WBTV’s Ashley Stroehlein. The question is, if the thought of rebuild in the case of Kemba Walker’s departure was already floating around the Hornet’s front office, why and how was it handled so poorly? The fact is that the past two weeks as a Hornets fan optimizes the last decade. The draft picks (less Kemba Walker) don’t fit and rarely work out in the long run. Hornets/Bobcats picks have only produced one All Star since the team took their three-year hiatus and resurfaced in 2004 as the Bobcats. Bismack Biyombo is up to make $19 million next year after playing in 54 games and averaging 4.4 points and 4.6 rebounds per game. Cody Zeller is owed $14 million based on a strong work ethic. Last but not least, Nic Batum who after averaging 9.9 points, 5.2 rebounds, 3.3 assists per game last season looks to make $25 million from the Hornets next season. Kemba Walker was the sixth-highest paid player on the Hornets last season. That should speak volumes.
In a state with the most dominant college basketball in the country, it is extremely difficult to fathom the questionable operations of a professional team in the same state. The Hornets have proven themselves not only nondescript but nearly anonymous to the rest of the league. Whether it is a change in the front office or a roster revamp from top to bottom, one has to wonder how long Michael Jordan can sit idly by watching the disaster that his Hornets have become before making a change that will bring back the passion and love for professional basketball the city deserves.