If Cody Zeller and the Charlotte Hornets don’t agree to terms on a contract extension tonight, he enters free agency as a restricted free agent. Thankfully, the Hornets and Zeller are discussing terms — but as far as we can tell, there’s no deal on the table.
Others in talks on four-year extensions include Minnesota's Shabazz Muhammad and Gorgui Dieng and Charlotte's Cody Zeller.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojVerticalNBA) October 30, 2016
No big deal, right? Well, not so fast. Check out what Woj followed up with.
Rivals know these players would get offer sheets matched by original teams in RFA, but several watching Zeller talks closely and here's why:— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojVerticalNBA) October 30, 2016
If no Zeller extension, teams may be aggressive on offer sheets. Many privately wonder how far Michael Jordan will take Charlotte payroll.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojVerticalNBA) October 30, 2016
It appears NBA executives still view Hornets owner Michael Jordan as cheap. I’m not saying they’re wrong, but I do think that the last couple of years indicate that Jordan is opening up to the idea of paying to win.
After all, it was Jordan who signed Nicolas Batum to a five-year, $120 million deal this summer. The Jordan of old would have never done that.
That said, there’s no doubt the Hornets are notorious for seemingly underpaying their players. Marvin Williams is worth more than $12.5 million per year on the open market. Kemba Walker is worth more than $13 million. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is worth more than $12 million. And so on.
The thing is, the San Antonio Spurs do this as well. Like the Hornets, they’ve developed a culture that prioritizes winning over personal accolades and emphasizes the need to sacrifice for the benefit of the team.
I don’t know if Zeller gets an extension. If the Hornets plan on keeping him, they’d do well to re-sign him before free agency. They can match any offer Zeller receives, but the dollar value in free agency will be significantly higher than the dollar value of a potential extension.
We’ll see what happens.