It’s a head-turning number — $52 million for Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. A good player, a player on the rise, but also a player with plenty of question marks. In the NBA of three years ago, $13 million a year for that would be a terrible move by the Charlotte Hornets.
But times change quickly. In the new normal of an NBA about to be flooded with television money, this is a good gamble by the team.
We told you a four-year, $52 million extension was coming for Kidd-Gilchrist and on Wednesday morning the Hornets made the deal official.
“Michael is a huge part of what we are trying to build here in Charlotte,” Hornets GM Rich Cho said in a released statement. “He has dedicated himself to improving and expanding his game. Michael continues to develop on both ends of the court and has become a key piece of our team. We are thrilled that he is a Charlotte Hornet.”
What we know MKG brings is elite defense — both on-ball and help. He is the guy assigned to the opponent’s best perimeter player every game. Kidd-Gilchrist is also a good rebounder for his position, and he plays with an infectious, relentless energy. He’s simply fun to watch because of it.
The question has always been his raw offense. He’s okay if he has driving lanes and can get to the rim (and in transition), but if he has to shoot a jumper things got ugly. That said, he’s improving, working last summer with then assistant coach Mark Price to rework his form. Last season he shot 50 percent last season between 10 and 16 feet. There’s still a long way to go (he didn’t even attempt a three last season), but there have been strides.
The Hornets are betting on bigger, better strides to come — and if he made those strides this season and then hit the market as a restricted free agent next July, the Hornets would have paid more. MKG gets some financial security out of the deal.
This size deal is the NBA’s new normal. Get used to it.