Hornets president Mitch Kupchak: Terry Rozier would’ve been lottery pick if in 2019 draft

Kent Smith/NBAE via Getty Images

The Hornets could have traded Kemba Walker for major return. They could have re-signed Walker to a long-term contract

Instead, they watched Walker leave for the Celtics in unrestricted free agency.

Charlotte tried to salvage the situation by landing Terry Rozier in a sign-and-trade with Boston. Rozier, who got $56.7 million over three years, is likely better than anyone the capped-out Hornets could’ve signed with the mid-level exception.

But, he’s no Walker, a star and the greatest player in franchise history. How Walker’s exit unfolded has really reflected poorly  on Charlotte’s management.

So, the Hornets are trying to inflate Rozier’s value to save face.

The Hornets can pay Rozier like a reliable starter. He isn’t one. After impressing during the 2018 playoffs, Rozier regressed last season.

The Hornets can talk about Rozier like a lottery pick. He isn’t one. Rozier is 25, lacking the untapped upside of actual rookies.

Importantly, Rozier will get nearly $19 million per year. This year’s lottery picks are due about $6 million annually across their four-year rookie scale contracts. Their relatively low wages are a huge part of the appeal of draft picks.

I wouldn’t give up on Rozier just yet. He has ability, and he’ll feel more comfortable starting rather than being trapped behind Kyrie Irving. Point guards tend to develop later than other positions. But Rozier must improve significantly as a distributor and, ideally, finisher.

Charlotte is giving a laughably wrong impression of his value.