An incredibly successful season for the Charlotte Hornets is over, after a 48-win regular season and a Game 7 elimination to the Miami Heat. They’re loaded with free agents who are worth pursuing.
The Wizards's goals are to get younger, more explosive and identify a few two-way players in the process to improve their 21st scoring defense. Adding players indiscriminately isn't an option because of the salary cap. The big fish (meaning, big-name free agents) will get signed first. Assuming the Wizards land one, even if it's not named Kevin Durant, they'll construct the roster with the remaining money with as many as eight other spots open. More than likely they'll retain 2-4 of their own free agents which will cut that number of open slots from 5-7.
They'll need a solid backup for Marcin Gortat at center, a true scorer behind Bradley Beal and a backup point guard for John Wall.
These are Charlotte’s free agents, in order of best fit (and projected affordability):
Courtney Lee: A career backup with the ability to start, Lee is a solid two-way guard who made $5.7 million and now is an unrestricted free agent. He has good size and is a perfect complement to Wall or Beal as he can plug two gaps. The question for him, is starting a requirement (he made 65 in Memphis and Charlotte this past season) and for the Wizards would be how much would they be willing to pay a No. 2? Lee also shot 38% from three. He fills a lot of voids in one player.
Jeremy Lin: At 6-3 and seasoned, he’s the perfect backup point guard but could start pending on where he ends up. He only made $2.1 million after coming off a monster deal previously and has a player option. Lin has done enough to get back some of that lost income with 11.7 points. Lin is a better defender than Ramon Sessions, who is looking for a starting job after playing the last two seasons behind Wall.
Marvin Williams: He has a few qualities to make him a prize catch as an unrestricted free agent -- size, experience, the versatility to play both forward positions and three-point range (40%). Williams, who was backup with Charlotte a year ago, was elevated to a starting role this season and is in line for a sizable contract, well above the $7 million he earned. Given the Wizards already have Morris who has a better low-post game and a much more cap-friendly deal, paying Williams makes little sense. But since Williams can play the three spot, too, there’s a scenario of playing both. Of course, Otto Porter and Kelly Oubre occupy those spots and are much cheaper.
Nic Batum: The perfect definition of a two-way player, Batum can shoot the three and defend both guard positions and the wing effectively as well as smaller fours. He finished the final year of his deal that paid him $13.1 million after being traded from Portland. Batum is now unrestricted and will be in high demand. If the Wizards were to make a play for him, that’s a lot tied up into one position with Porter and Oubre at the three spot. A roster move to relieve that glut would be likely for it to make sense which is why Batum is listed this low. Otherwise, he’s first.
Al Jefferson: His 12 points and 6.4 rebounds represent his lowest output since his second NBA season, and he earned $13.5 million. But Jefferson was injured and came off the bench as the Hornets went to small-ball to adjust. He still can put up starter’s numbers, is a load in the post and by all indications accepted the backup role with grace. Jefferson is on the other side of 30 in a game that’s become increasingly about faster-paced players. He doesn’t make the defense any better but offensively he’s a true back-to-the-basket option. But at what cost? He can find a starting job and a bigger payday somewhere.