Charlotte GM Mitch Kupchak realizes two things:
1) The Hornets are going to have cap space this summer. Assuming the salary cap stays roughly flat at $109.1 million, Charlotte will have a little more than $20 million (depending on what happens with a couple of contracts).
2) Big-time free agents aren’t looking at Charlotte as a destination right now, even with that money to spend.
Buying free agents also is not where the Hornets are right now in the rebuild process. Instead, Kupchak may be more likely to take on a bad contract in exchange for a pick, he suggested to Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer.
“Even though we’ll have cap room, I don’t feel free-agency is the answer for us at this time,” Kupchak said. “So that talent is going to have to come from the draft or a trade.”
“Cap room is generally considered a valuable asset,” Kupchak said. “Whether it’s to sign players or acquire a player in trade.”
Charlotte needs to add talent right now. Devonte Graham had a breakout season, and Terry Rozier can get some buckets, but the Hornets need All-Star level players to get back in the playoff mix in the East.
In the current economic climate, a few teams are looking to shed salary, and the going rate for taking on a “bad” $15 million a year or more contract is a first-round pick. Charlotte has the cap space and could use that extra pick.
Don’t be surprised to see the Hornets make just that kind of trade this offseason.