Report: NBA teams watching Hornets-Cody Zeller contract-extension negotiations in particular

Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
0 Comments

Rookie-scale extensions are important, but they’re not that important.

Teams can make un-extended players restricted free agents the following summer, so it’s not as if the players can just get away. Their incumbent team can always match an offer sheet. Sometimes, whether or not to extend a player is mostly about salary-cap timing.

So, don’t assume anyone not extended by tonight’s deadline will be on a new team soon. Most of them will return to their current team next season.

But players who don’t sign extensions are more likely to switch teams than those who do, and one player in particular – the Hornets’ Cody Zeller – is being treated as a flight risk.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

This strikes me as wishful thinking by teams that want to poach Zeller.

The Hornets have just $83,078,368 committed next season, and that includes nearly all their top players: Kemba Walker, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Nicolas Batum, Marvin Williams and Frank Kaminsky. Re-signing Zeller to the max – and I doubt it would take that – wouldn’t even get Charlotte near the projected luxury-tax line.

Zeller has carved out a nice niche as an inside-outside center. At just 24, he should remain productive throughout his next contract. Plus, Hornets coach Steve Clifford has proven adept at crafting a defensive system that works without a rim-protecting center. Charlotte can get the most out of Zeller’s skills without feeling the downside.

But I don’t know Michael Jordan’s exact appetite for spending.

The question: Do these other teams, or are they just hoping?