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.