A couple nights ago, I posed a question on our twitter feed meant to stimulate some conversation. The gist is this: The Hornets' free agency options to make a big splash are most likely limited to two players: the Pacers' Lance Stephenson and Gordon Hayward. Though they have financial limitations in cap space that likely bar Charlotte from making offers to the biggest talents, the Hornets' choices can still try to upgrade at the wing with either player, should they make offers to them. And I'll amend the question to include Chandler Parsons, whom I had forgotten.
Given the choice, would you sign Chandler Parsons, Lance Stephenson or Gordon Hayward, or avoid tying up money long term this offseason?
Parsons, who carries great size for a small forward at about 6'10", has a versatile offense with a fairly dependable jump shot and who can finish in the paint thanks to a great floater. He sees the floor well and is a capable passer, though he's not particularly great handling the ball. Parsons' jumping ability is a bit underwhelming, but he can still get up there and his ability to counter that with a floater still makes him a threat around the rim. However, his rebounding does suffer because of it. Chandler Parsons is a player who can do a lot of things, but expect him to get paid in a major way this summer, possibly more than Stephenson or Hayward.
Stephenson is notorious at this point for his antics in the NBA playoffs, but he's quite talented and will get quite a pay raise which will undoubtedly multiply his total career earnings to date more than tenfold in a new total contract. His ability to drive to the rack and finish there has teams intrigued, though his tomfoolery does not. He's an intense player with great focus on muscling into the paint, but can also hit shots off the dribble pretty well. His shooting has improved each season, but Stephenson is not yet a great three-point shooter. Overall, he has a versatile offensive skill set and potential to become even more consistent, but he can get a bit of tunnel vision and teams are concerned about how he might impact their locker room chemistry, which wasn't exactly bubbly in Indianapolis last season. The Pacers have reportedly offered Stephenson a contract worth $44 million over five years, but no agreement has been made, so something bigger could be enough to draw Stephenson away.
Hayward, who I discussed recently, hasn't had the benefit of playing on a good team recently. The Jazz have been rebuilding, which means they've been lacking in talent and been less than highly competitive. However, that has given them the ability to give Gordon Hayward plenty of shots. However, he hasn't quite been consistent, with his three-point percentage falling from 41.5 to 30.4 percent from 2012-13 to last season. Hayward does have some terrific skills, with good size, ballhandling, passing, court vision and the tools to be a fine shooter. However, the Jazz seem to want to retain Hayward by matching any offer he'll get, which could get pretty expensive. The maximum he can get from a different team would be $60+ million over four years. But would Utah match that big a contract just to keep him?
The other option is that the Hornets could stick with their current roster and fill roster spots by re-signing Josh McRoberts and signing some bench talent to fill the gaps. Charlotte has plenty cap space to do that, and could make roster changes if needed via trade. They can avoid committing big money to help maintain that space for later this way. However, they'd have to free up some players via trade if they wanted to become a major player in free agency sooner rather than later.
Assuming these players get contracts at the rumored going ballpark values, what's your pick?