Written by Paul Banks of the Washington Times, David Kay and Peter Christian of the The Sports Bank. Send Paul an e-mail here: paulb05 AT hotmail DOT com.
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Charlotte Hornets (Last Year: 43-39)
2013-14 Season Summary:
The Charlotte Bobcats, errrr ... Hornets made a huge jump this past season, exceeding their win total from the past two seasons combined and making the playoffs for just the second time in the past 10 years. The signing of Al Jefferson last summer played a major factor in that improvement. This offeseason with being well under the salary cap and having a pair of first-round picks, the Hornets should be able to add some more pieces to help their rise in the Eastern Conference.
2014-15 Projected Depth Chart:
C: Al Jefferson/Brendan Haywood
PF: Bismack Biyombo/Cody Zeller
SF: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist/Jeffery Taylor
SG: *Gerald Henderson/Gary Neal
PG: Kemba Walker
NBA Free Agents:
PF-Josh McRoberts (UFA)
PG-Luke Ridnour (UFA)
PF-Anthony Tolliver (UFA)
SG-Chris Douglas-Roberts (UFA)
PF-D.J. White (UFA)
PG-Jannero Pargo (UFA)
2014-15 Team Salary: Approximately $41.3 million
NBA Offseason Team Needs:
1. Power Foward:
With Josh McRoberts already opting out of his contract and becoming an unrestricted free agent, the Hornets suddenly have a hole to fill at power forward. Bismack Biyombo hasn't developed as hoped, and Cody Zeller is not ready to take over the starting spot. If Charlotte is unable to re-sign McRoberts, finding another veteran to pair up with Al Jefferson in the frontcourt becomes a pressing need.
2. Backup Point Guard:
With Luke Ridnour entering free agency, the Hornets need to find a backup for Kemba Walker. Charlotte has the ninth- and 24th-overall picks in the 2014 NBA Draft, so the club could land somebody like Shabazz Napier, Tyler Ennis, Elfrid Payton, or Jordan Clarkson with the latter of those selections. Even if the Hornets address this need via the draft, they should look to add a veteran in free agency.
3. Find another Jefferson:
Charlotte has not been an attractive destination for marquee free agents, but that changed last summer when Al Jefferson decided to come to the Tar Heel state at a rather reasonable rate. With around $18 million in cap space, the Hornets should hope to find another high-level free agent to bring in without drastically overspending. Accomplishing this won't be as easy as last offseason since there are a lot more teams with cap space than a year ago. Ideally, this player would be a capable scorer since the Bobcats were oftentime offensively-challenged last year.
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