Throughout the offseason, Hornets General Manager Mitch Kupchak and Head Coach James Borrego have both emphasized the Hornets’ need for another ball handling guard to back up Kemba Walker. They selected Devonte Graham with the 34th pick in the draft last week, but they clearly want another veteran presence to steady the back court. Here are a few options:
He may be an overly optimistic target, but it wouldn’t hurt for the Hornets to make him an offer. He’s restricted, but a Raptors team already over the luxury tax might balk at matching a deal in the $6 to $7 million range. There’s a decent chance he gets better offers elsewhere, but the Hornets could have a chance if they make him an offer while the teams with more cap space are big game hunting.
Despite being an undersized, below-average athlete, VanVleet was the leader of a Raptors bench that was one of the best units in the NBA last season. His 41% 3-point shooting and playmaking ability would be a huge addition to the Charlotte bench.
Another restricted free agent, Yogi Ferrell would add another outside scoring punch to the Hornets bench should they acquire his services. The Mavericks drafted Jalen Brunson last week, so they have a bit of a log jam at the point guard position. They’ve also rescinded the offer sheets to their other restricted free agents in an attempt to clear as much cap as possible. It’s possible the Hornets can take advantage of the Mavericks desperation and steal Ferrell away from them.
In his 118 games for Dallas, the former Indiana Hoosier has averaged 10.6 points and 3.0 assists per game while connecting on 37.8% of his 3-point attempts.
Larkin is probably be the easiest target to land on this list. He’s very undersized, but that didn’t prevent him from performing well in a backup role for the Celtics after Kyrie Irving was lost for the season. He’s a respectable 3-point shooter, but he struggles with efficiency inside the arc. Regardless, he helped keep one of the best teams in the East afloat without their star point guard.
This would be a fun one. Shabazz Napier backed up Kemba Walker during UConn’s magical 2011 tournament run culminating in a National Championship. He, along with Walker and Jeremy Lamb, could reprise their roles as a back court trio to be reckoned with. It’s a full circle.
Napier had a bit of career resurrection in Portland this season, averaging a career high 8.7 points per game in a career high 20.7 minutes per game. Portland rescinded his qualifying offer, so he may not be in their long term plans. Maybe the allure of getting the band back together could get Napier to Charlotte.
This is the low hanging fruit, but we can’t talk about Charlotte guards and not bring up a Curry if he’s available. He missed all of last season, so he may be the victim of an “out of sight, out of mind” mentality held a Mavericks team that has bigger fish to fry in free agency, a rookie draft pick at his position, and another point guard with a qualifying offer.
The younger Curry brother is seen more as a combo guard, but he has flashed the ability to run a competent offense when called upon. He comes with the typical Curry shooting, a career 43.2% 3-point shooter, and all the coming home stories you could imagine. Playing in his hometown for the team his dad played for could be a big selling point or it could drive him away. Who knows? Only one way to find out.