It was another predictably-uneventful trade deadline day for the Hornets, with Mitch Kupchak deciding to ride out the season and let the team’s veteran contracts expire this summer. It’s important to remember that’s not a bad thing; the Hornets will have about $22M in cap space this offseason, and could get up to $26M if they let go of Dwayne Bacon and Willy Hernangomez (per Spencer Percy). That’s a lot of room to fill out the roster with short-term deals for veterans, undrafted free agents and/or reclamation projects, etc. No move at all is sometimes the best move a rebuilding team can make. Patience is a virtue.
Whether you’re a fan of a team that made a move, or one that didn’t, it’s natural for eyes to point to the next stage in the NBA transaction season; the buyout market. It’s tradition around the league this time of year to hypothesize where respective players on expiring deals might land after they are freed of their contracts before only one or two of them actually gets bought out. For us Hornets fans, this year might actually provide some things to speculate about. Marvin Williams has already negotiated a buyout and will sign with the Milwaukee Bucks, and he may not be the only Hornet to become a free agent.
Then again, he probably will be. Buyouts are a hard agreement to come to; the conversation is almost always initiated by a player’s agent, typically the team doesn’t want to give up a player for nothing unless they’re getting salary relief, and the player doesn’t want to give up any money just to play less than half of a season for a slight chance at a championship. Originally I wasn’t convinced Marv’s agent and Kupchak would come to an agreement, but it seems as if Charlotte made it relatively easy for them to get out of the rest of his deal. The Hornets’ remaining expiring vets/buyout candidates are Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Bismack Biyombo, listed in order of how much sense it would make for each player to seek a buyout.
First on the short list; Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. MKG is making less money than Marv or Biz, which in theory makes it more likely for him to be bought out, but he provides the least value of the three to another team. MKG is making $13M this season, and if he wants a buyout, he’ll probably have to accept a much smaller figure than that to get Charlotte to let him go. That’s always a possibility, because he would fit on teams like Houston (clearly, they need bigs) or Orlando (who also needs forward depth for the playoffs), but it is quite unlikely that they, or anyone else, shows enough interest in him to prompt his agent to seek a buyout.
And last but not least, Bismack Biyombo. Biz played well to start the year, but it seems as if his days as a regular member of the rotation are behind him. His $17M contract is the highest of the three expiring vets, and couple with his lack of versatility as an undersized center, there is almost no chance Biz’s agent tries to convince Kupchak to buy him out. He’s much better of preserving his body for the rest of the season and going for a small, multi-year deal this summer in a weak free-agent class.
In short, the Hornets will probably not have much more of an impact or presence on the buyout market, however these things are still fun to speculate about; mostly because it involves Jalen McDaniels and Caleb and Cody Martin getting more playing time. As previously mentioned, buyout talks are usually initiated by the player’s agent, and involve the team not wanting to pay a full salary to a player who still wants a full salary, albeit to play for another, more competitive team. It’s hard to negotiate these deals, which is why it’s almost always more conjecture than it is substance. But, the Marvin Williams’ buyout came together rather quickly, so anything can happen. Let me know if you guys think the Hornets will be making any more moves. We’ll have to wait and see.
Last but not least; farewell and good luck to Marvin on his search for a championship. He did a lot for the community of Charlotte, and was a stable veteran presence in the locker room for years. Milwaukee is going to value his outside shooting and formidable defense come playoff time. At the Hive wishes him the best!