As the season draws nearer, the future of various Charlotte Hornets players will become an ever-increasing talking point. As At the Hive's Austin Peters already discussed, the extension of Micheal Kidd-Gilchrist will carry much of the attention heading into the season. However, MKG is only one of many others the Hornets will have to consider extending either this fall or next summer.
One of those players is Jeremy Lamb. While he hasn't played a game for the Hornets, Grantland's Zach Lowe mentioned the possibility of Lamb's extension at the very end of his latest article:
Lamb flamed out in Oklahoma City, but he's going to get minutes for a team that badly needs his shooting. Charlotte also plans to let Lamb stretch himself as a ball handler. Minutes bring numbers, and numbers bring money, so the Hornets should at least see what it would take to preempt Lamb's free agency. They might not reach a place that makes it worth Lamb's while, and we're saying that about a guy who has done basically nothing in the NBA. Welcome to the new salary-cap world.
In other words, Lamb's stock will rise, because for the first time he's going to get the necessary minutes to put up numbers that warrant a multi-year deal. Whether he does that remains a question mark, but if the team likes what they've seen from him this summer and in training camp, they could entertain an extension this fall.
Extending a player before he's even played a game probably isn't the smartest move, but the idea is understandable given next year's salary cap jump. Say Lamb ends up as one of Charlotte's better rotation players this season, he could end up with an outrageous offer from another team. The salary cap is going to jump again, and given some of the deals role players received this summer, the Hornets could find themselves in a bind if another team offers Lamb a lot of money. The Hornets will have plenty of cap space, but using that cap space wisely is important. Cho has proven that he can entice free agents to come to Charlotte with short-term deals that don't restrict the team's long-term salary cap space, but Lamb's case will be different since he will be a restricted free agent.
Considering the possible pay day Lamb could receive in free agency, it wouldn't hurt to at least entertain the idea of an extension now, as Lowe suggested. The prospect of a multi-year deal now could be enticing to Lamb, considering a poor year this season could mean he's out of the league next season. The Hornets could offer Lamb job security now with lower contract offer, with say, the option to opt-in or out in the final year of his deal (something similar to Jeremy Lin's contract).
Lamb is in a pretty good position despite not doing much of anything in his career so far. One solid season could mean a big pay day, while a contract now would mean he stays in league even if things don't work out this season. Extending now would probably be pre-mature, but its something the Hornets could at least consider.