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Cody Zeller in extension talks with Charlotte Hornets

NBA executives believe that team owner Michael Jordan is cheap and are eagerly watching what the team does with Zeller.

Miami Heat v Charlotte Hornets - Game Three Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

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.

No big deal, right? Well, not so fast. Check out what Woj followed up with.


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.