Going into the season, the Hornets will be quite different from the disappointing group they put out last year. There are seven new players on the roster, including some key rotation players, and it’s going to be a lot of trial-and-error to see which ones play well together and which ones don’t. Head coach Steve Clifford is going to try out a lot of different combinations, including one he brought up in a new interview: a backcourt of Kemba Walker and new signee Jeremy Lin.
From Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer:
Q: You’ve said you’re intrigued by the potential in playing point guards Kemba Walker and Jeremy Lin together. Can you describe your vision for that combination?
It’s always good to have two pick-and-roll players on the floor. That way you can put pressure on the defense at one side, then switch it to the other. That makes more room to play similar to how Golden State does. You’ve got Steph (Curry) on one side, so defenses have to load up there, and then you’ve got Klay Thompson on the other with room to operate.
That’s what Kemba can do for Jeremy and Jeremy can do for Kemba.
It’s an interesting concept, and could work in small doses. Finding minutes for a two-point guard lineup will be tricky for Clifford, who will also be juggling playing time for Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Nicolas Batum and (if he cracks the rotation) Jeremy Lamb. He’ll have plenty of options to mix and match players in the backcourt and on the wing. Truth be told, both Walker and Lin are probably best suited to be sixth men, instant-offense types. Clifford compared the style of a Walker-Lin backcourt to the Warriors, which makes sense conceptually. But Thompson is a much better defender than both Walker and Lin, which makes it easier play two ball-dominant guards together. But it’s certainly worth trying this out. It’s hard to get a read on what the Hornets’ roster will be at this point, or how effective it can be. They have plenty of talented players, and it will be interesting to see how well they fit together.
Sam Thompson knows his plan B – being a financial analyst at major investment firm.
But Thompson, who went undrafted this year after four seasons at Ohio State, is still working on Plan A.
Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders:
To be clear, the only way for a player to attend an NBA training camp is with an NBA contract.
Thompson will give Charlotte 17 players for 15 regular-season roster spots. He’ll likely compete with Elliot Williams ($80,000 guaranteed) and Aaron Harrison ($75,000 guaranteed) for the final spot.
The 6-foot-7 Thompson is an excellent dunker, and he uses his athleticism fairly well on defense. His unpolished ball skills – shooting, dribbling – are big negatives for a small forward, though.
I wouldn’t be surprised if the Hornets are just signing Thompson for an extra body during training camp. They have no D-League affiliate, so they can’t waive him and sign his D-League rights.
But with Nicolas Batum and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist in line to start, Charlotte has no natural small forward off the bench. There’s little difference between either wing position, so shooting guards like Jeremy Lamb and P.J. Hairston could easily play down. But Thompson’s size could provide a different dimension and give him a chance of making the team.
Luke Ridnour has been making the rounds in the first few days of this offseason, becoming the modern-day 2009 Quentin Richardson. He was traded from Orlando to Memphis yesterday for the rights to former second-round pick Janis Timma; then from Memphis to Charlotte this morning for Matt Barnes;and now, the Hornets have used him as a trade chip to acquire Thunder guard Jeremy Lamb, both teams announced Thursday afternoon in separate press releases.
From the Thunder:
The Oklahoma City Thunder acquired guard Luke Ridnour and a conditional 2016 second round draft pick from the Charlotte Hornets in exchange for guard Jeremy Lamb, it was announced today by Executive Vice President and General Manager Sam Presti.
Ridnour (6-2, 175), a 12-year NBA veteran, has played in 830 career games (493 starts) with five teams, averaging 9.3 points, 2.3 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 1.00 steals in 26.1 minutes. The University of Oregon product spent the 2014-15 season with the Orlando Magic, appearing in 47 games and averaging 4.0 points, 1.4 rebounds and 2.0 assists in 14.5 minutes. Ridnour was acquired by the Memphis Grizzlies on June 24, 2015 before being traded to Charlotte in a separate transaction earlier today.
Lamb appeared in 47 games (eight starts) for the Thunder in the 2014-15 season, averaging 6.3 points and 2.3 rebounds in 13.5 minutes. In three seasons with the Thunder, Lamb saw action in 148 games (eight starts) and averaged 7.0 points, 2.1 rebounds and 1.1 assists in 15.7 minutes.
From the Hornets:
Charlotte Hornets General Manager Rich Cho announced today that the team has acquired guard Jeremy Lamb from the Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for guard Luke Ridnour and a conditional 2016 second-round draft pick. The Hornets acquired Ridnour earlier today from the Memphis Grizzlies in exchange for forward Matt Barnes.
“Jeremy Lamb is a quality young wing player who we believe has the talent to help our team,” said Cho. “We look forward to adding him to our rotation next season.”
The Thunder had been shopping Lamb, among other bench players in recent days, in order to get far enough under the luxury tax to be able to comfortably re-sign restricted free agents Enes Kanter and Kyle Singler. Trading Lamb sheds $3 million from their books for next season and nets them an additional second-round pick. For Charlotte, it’s a free look at a former lottery pick for a year. It comes on the heels of the Hornets’ trade for Nicolas Batum on Wednesday night. Lamb will come off the bench behind Batum and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.
The Thunder trading Jeremy Lamb for Matt Barnes?
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:
It looks like the Grizzlies traded for Luke Ridnour yesterday just to get his unguaranteed contract. The Hornets are likely doing the same.
Charlotte can waive Ridnour at no cost (or flip him again if another deal emerges). Waiving Barnes would have meant paying his $1 million guarantee.
Barnes should stick in Memphis, where he’ll provide useful depth on the wing. With Jeff Green opting in, the Grizzlies didn’t have much flexibility to seek help elsewhere. They did pretty good for themselves with this deal.
UPDATE June 25, 10:05 am: This trade was never finalized, and at the last minute the Hornets found a better deal and moved Matt Barnes to Memphis for Luke Rindour. This saves Charlotte some money, and Barnes is pretty much a perfect fit for the grit-and-grind Grizzlies.
June 24, 8:30 pm: Getting Nicolas Batum out of Portland was not the only trade the Charlotte Hornets made on Wednesday.
Looking to add more three-point shooting (the Hornets were last in the NBA in three-point percentage last season) the team has added a young, athletic wing player with potential in Jeremy Lamb, something reported by Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer.
Matt Barnes is a solid, hard-working veteran rotation player that would fit on a lot of teams and seems destined for free agency (the Clippers sent him to Charlotte in the Lance Stephenson deal). He has a $3.5 million contract for next season but only $1 million is guaranteed and the Thunder seem likely to buy him out. Why? Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports explains.
Lamb didn’t play a big role in OKC but he will get another chance in Charlotte. Hcan certainly score from the wing and did that often off the catch-and-shoot in Oklahoma City. He’s a career 34.8 percent shooter from three and more than 40 percent of his shots come from beyond the arc. He’s incredibly athletic and shows flashes of potential.
But his defense often kept him on the bench in Oklahoma City — and it will do the same for Steve Clifford in Charlotte if Lamb doesn’t play better on that end.
That said he will get a chance. The Hornets need to space the floor and are on a mission to get some shooting on the roster (which is why they may draft pick-and-pop big man Frank Kaminsky out of Wisconsin).