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Nicolas Batum, Gregg Popovich, and free agency compromise

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Batum’s signing gives Charlotte an interesting choice to make.

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

While your team remaining the same can be a dull experience, remember the following:

For the next five years, the Hornets will have Kemba Walker for three of them, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist for four of them, and now, Nicolas Batum for all of them.

Last season, Gregg Popovich — wine connoisseur, draconian interviewee, and full-time basketball coach — said this:

"For us, it's easy. We're looking for character, but what the hell does that mean? We're looking for people — and I've said it many times — [who] have gotten over themselves, and you can tell that pretty quickly. You can talk to somebody for four or five minutes, and you can tell if it's about them, or if they understand that they're just a piece of the puzzle."

Free agency does not afford most teams the luxury of only concerning themselves with character. Most franchises are mortal and have to weigh price, talent, character, and then just cross their fingers.

Charlotte has not been immune to that triangulation. Remember their two most recent major free agent signings: Al Jefferson and Lance Stephenson. Each had a concern — for Big Al it was the price, and for Lance it was the character. Al worked out, Lance did not.

However, the signing of Batum locks in a core of three good, young players that has none of these concerns.

This is a testament to the front office, who, just like the players, have done a fantastic job competing according to their strengths i.e. all but shunning the draft process, in favor of wiley trades and bold free agency signings. Given these realities, ideas of tanking would not reflect best practices for the Hornets. Rebuilding, for example, at least as long as Clifford and this front office is in tact, may not ever occur. Re-tooling while remaining competitive, an ideology made popular by Darryl Morey years ago, is now Charlotte’s modus operandi, and it actually makes sense.

So then, who — with their personnel powers — will Cho and the gang sign next?

Probably no one of consequence, at least for this summer.

Re-signing Batum assures the Hornets can trot out a team we’ve never seen before, (except for a paltry four games) a team that features both Batum and MKG. To really make a run, the Hornets will need another piece, not likely found in this free agent crop.

Dwight Howard? Well...I don’t know. Howard remains perhaps the only realistic free agent left that could significantly alter the Hornets' trajectory. However, to sign someone like Dwight would be to ignore everything Grand Master Pop laid out in the Gospel of Greg. This is where a team must decide if that particular protocol, laid out by the face of a franchise as good as it has been lucky, makes sense for them, or whether that process — while admirable — is not the best choice for all.

In other words, should you mimic the best, or recognize your own strengths and limitations and act accordingly?

I don’t know what the Hornets will decide to do in the future, but whatever they’ve been doing recently seems to be working just fine.