Hornets GM Mitch Kupchak on RFA Miles Bridges: ‘We’re going to bring him back’

Charlotte Hornets forward Miles Bridges
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The Hornets were reportedly hesitant to match a max offer sheet for Miles Bridges.

But Charlotte general manager Mitch Kupchak wants to shut down that talk before Bridges’ restricted free agency even begins.

Bally Sports Southeast:

Kupchak:

As an organization, we love Miles, OK? And we’re going to bring him back. He’s been great for the franchise, and I believe, with his work ethic, he’s only going to get better.

Bridges is an athletic 24-year-old athletic forward who blossomed with the ball in his hands this season. He still has room to grow, especially as a 3-pointer shooter and defender, and – as Kupchak said – has shown the drive improve. The Hornets should be motivated to keep Bridges, but as always, it comes down to cost.

Though Charlotte can make its own contract offer, outside interest often drives the price in restricted free agency. Another team could extend a max offer sheet, which projects to be worth about $131 million over four years.

Would another team really offer that much? It’s less likely if teams believe they’d just be wasting their time with the Hornets matching anyway.

Which is why the players’ union fought for a rule in the Collective Bargaining Agreement that curtails teams from trying to cool the market.

The CBA prohibits team employees from publicly saying they’ll match any future offer sheet for a restricted free agent, but they can express their desire to retain a restricted free agent. The exact wording in the CBA:

No Team or any of its employees or agents will make a public statement that the Team would match any future Offer Sheet for one of the Team’s players or offer an impending or current Restricted Free Agent a particular Player Contract in free agency (e.g., a Contract providing for the player’s maximum allowable Salary). The foregoing does not limit a Team’s ability to express its desire to retain an impending or current Restricted Free Agent or to make general statements praising such a player (e.g., that the player is an important or essential part of the Team, that the Team wants or hopes to retain the player’s services, and other similar statements).

This is a silly rule. Team executives can just anonymously leak their intent to match any offer, achieve the same result and avoid practically any risk of punishment. The NBA isn’t investigating the identity of anonymous sources, no matter how thinly veiled.

Kupchak put his name and face to his comments, which should be commended. Instead, it exposes him to a potential fine.

Whether Kupchak violated this rule is in the eye of the beholder. It’s even more difficult to guess how the league will enforce it.

But it’d be ironic if he or the Hornets got fined over this. With the Lakers, Kupchack was known as the only general manager who didn’t tamper.