Happy Friday everyone. A lot was said about the Hornets this week, and while we managed to cover most of it, here are a few other articles and links about the team and/or players:
First up, the always stellar Zach Lowe wrote a lengthy piece on Kemba Walker's contract extension and restricted free agency over at Grantland. Lowe had previously written on six intriguing players up for extensions, and I was bit disappointed not to see Kemba on his list. Little did I know that Lowe was preparing a good 2000+ words on Walker's extension.
Lowe goes into how much money Walker's extension could be worth, before breaking down what he likes and doesn't like about about his game (Spoiler: Lowe loves the way Kemba makes defenders look foolish with his ball handling).
While Walker and his agent will likely demand a contract upwards of $12 million a year, citing the increasing salary cap, the Hornets are in a strong position to play hardball, and doing so is in their best interest:
Walker at $8 million or $9 million per season, right where Jeff Teague, Brandon Jennings, Goran Dragic, and Mike Conley sit now, is a movable asset -- especially since Walker has the goods to improve when Charlotte's evolving roster. Walker at $12 million might not be. Every dollar a team spends at one position is a dollar it can't spend elsewhere, and there are a tone of solid point guards floating around every summer.
Many Hornets fans might call blasphemy at the thought of trading Walker, but it should be acknowledged that better point guards do exist and could be available in the future. If the team did decide to upgrade at point guard, moving Walker would be a whole lot easier if he was making $8 or $9 million rather than $12 million. From a talent standpoint, Walker is on the levels of Teague, Dragic, and Conley, which is why a contract of $8 or $9 million per season sounds about right.
Lowe does point out that Walker still has upside left, but if he wants to warrant a higher contract, he will have to improve his ability to finish at the rim:
Walker averaged just 6.2 drives per game last season, a middling number for a starting point guard, and he shot a horrific 48.9 percent in the restrict area, per NBA.com. Among 119 guards who attempted at least 75 shots, only three -- Austin Rivers, Rubio, and Jordan Farmar -- hit a lower percentage.
It is a lengthy piece, but Lowe accurately analyzes Walker's game, and how the extension talks could play out. I highly recommend reading it.
Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer shared his thoughts on why the Hornets should maintain flexibility with their 15th roster spot.
I'm in agreement with Bonnell. The Hornets do need to add another big man with Vonleh's injury, but the best route may be signing a player, whether it be one of the training camp invitees or someone else, to a partially guaranteed contract. It gives them flexibility should a better option come available later on, or if an injury elsewhere forces them to sign a free agent or call a player up from the D-League, as they did with Chris Douglas-Roberts last season.
Over at HoopsHabit.com, Jon Shames wrote about Charlotte's deadliest duo -- Al Jefferson and Steve Clifford. The article goes into how Clifford's system allowed for Al Jefferson to excel last season.
If you haven't seen the behind the scenes video of the Hornets internal media day, it's worth the watch.
Some notable highlights:
- Jannero Pargo calling out Gary Neal for taking a selfie.
- Marvin Williams screaming, because wow Marvin, that was actually terrifying.
- The ridiculous action shots the players posed for. Seriously, spitting water into the air? I imagine the exchange of convincing Biyombo to agree to it went something like this:
Photographer: "Okay Biz, I want you to tilt your head back and spit water into the air."
Biz: "Okay, but won't all the water just fall back down onto my face?"
Photographer: "No it won't trust me. I studied meteorology in college, it will just evaporate into the air."
*Biz spits into the air. The water falls back down and gets into his eyes, blinding him temporarily*
Photographer: "Huh. I guess I was wrong, but what a great action I managed to take!" *starts break dancing*
In NBA news, the Suns signed Eric Bledsoe to a 5-year, $70 million extension. That's $14 million a season for one of the more talented young guards in the league, and if not for the concerns about his knees I would be more in favor of the deal.
Former Charlotte point guard Ramon Sessions signed for the Kings this week on a 2-year, $4.2 million deal. Despite playing consistently well for Charlotte in one and a half seasons, Sessions received slightly less on this deal than he did with Charlotte two years ago. Sessions will give the Kings added depth playing behind Darren Collison.
Finally, I leave you with this picture of Lance Stephenson swimming with a dolphin.