According to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, the Charlotte Hornets and Miles Bridges have not reached an agreement on a contract extension. The deadline for that has now passed, and Bridges will enter restricted free agency at the end of the 2021-22 season.
Bridges projects to be a starter this season after starting in all four preseason games, but he’ll jockey for that spot with the likes of PJ Washington and Mason Plumlee, depending on positions. He was one of many players from his draft class to not receive an extension by the deadline. Notable others include DeAndre Ayton, Collin Sexton, and Donte DiVincenzo.
Despite the slight drop-off in points last season, Bridges made huge strides in regard to his three-point shooting. He jumped up from 33.0% to 40.0% on roughly the same number of attempts per game. There were also slight improvements in his rebounding number, assist numbers, and defensive numbers. Overall, he had a great third season in the league.
The price of his contract is likely what stalled negotiations. Michael Scotto of HoopsHype recently mentioned that some people around the league view $20 million as a “possible floor” for his annual salary. That’s a hefty price to pay for Charlotte, especially after they just extended Terry Rozier this offseason.
However, allowing Bridges to enter restricted free agency is definitely a risk. If they had chosen to extend now, they likely would have gotten a much cheaper price than what they will have to pay if they want to keep him after this season.
The thinking behind not extending Bridges was probably that his price is too high, and they want to see if he can take another step this year. If he fails to take that next step, his price may go down, but then the Hornets offer might still be too low for what Bridges believes he is worth. That could lead to a bunch of negotiation issues, and an opposing team could still overpay to take a chance on him.
However, if Bridges steps up and plays super well, his price will skyrocket. Teams around the league would definitely be willing to overpay, and Charlotte will be left wishing that they offered him an extension.
Looking ahead, there are multiple teams projected to have a lot of cap space, according to Ben Rohrbach of Yahoo Sports. While the Hornets are on this list ($33.1 million), so are a few other teams who would love to take a shot at Miles Bridges. These teams include the Orlando Magic ($48 million; likely lower since they extended Wendell Carter), Detroit Pistons ($41.4 million), and Oklahoma City Thunder ($40.5 million)
First and foremost, the Magic are building a great young team in Orlando. They have a couple of nice wings, but adding depth at that position would help them a ton. Meanwhile, the same can be said for the Pistons. As for the Thunder, they have so many young assets and so much cap space that it might be worth it for them to take a stab at some restricted free agents in the coming years. They even have enough to overpay if they need to.
All that being said, the Hornets took a giant risk when they decided not to extend Bridges. Does it mean that his time in Charlotte is over? Not at all. However, it certainly increases the probability that he will be playing in another city next season.