Buzz City is making moves to make themselves relevant in the NBA. The Charlotte Bobcats and their lowly records and stats started to fade into NBA history on May 20 and the team officially became the Charlotte Hornets once again. Charlotte was home to the Hornets from 1988 to 2002, but the team moved to New Orleans and eventually became the Pelicans.
The Hornets (then Bobcats) started their transition of becoming winners when majority owner Michael Jordan and the organization were able to nab former Utah Jazz center Al Jefferson from free agency and sign him to a 3-year / $41 million contract before the 2013-14 season.
“I think we made a difference last year with Big Al (Jefferson) and some of the acquisitions — and I don’t anticipate this year being any different,” Jordan said.
Behind Jefferson, who was named third-team All-NBA, Charlotte made the playoffs for the first time since 2010 — the year Jordan took over as majority owner.
Jordan was hoping Jefferson’s success will convince other big-name free agents to come to Charlotte. With three draft picks and more than $13 million to spend in free agency in the off season, the Hornets were in position to make a “big difference” in upgrading their roster.
“I always thought Charlotte was a great destination,” Jordan said. “Big Al has proven that you can come here and make a big difference. Hopefully we can look at that and attract some other superstars.”
The big-name free agent that was attracted was guard Lance Stephenson, who helped the Indiana Pacers reach back-to-back Eastern Conference finals and was ranked eighth on the 2014 free agency list.
— Lance Stephenson (@StephensonLance) July 16, 2014
Stephenson has signed a three-year/$27 million contract with the Hornets that includes a team option for the final season. The 23-year-old Stephenson reportedly turned down a five-year/$44 million deal from the Pacers.
Stephenson, effectively, becomes their second-best player at the beginning of the season, with due respect to Kemba Walker‘s growth during the past two seasons. Stephenson is big, strong, can pass, score, rebound, make plays and has a tenacious attitude. If they can play with each other the Walker-Stephenson backcourt can be in the top ten in the league.
In the 2014 NBA Draft, the Hornets gained the No. 9 pick from an earlier trade with the Detroit Pistons, which they used to select Noah Vonleh from Indiana. In the same draft they acquired Uconn Huskies guard Shabazz Napier (24th overall pick), fresh off of winning the NCAA championship. The Hornets later traded Napier to the Miami Heat for P.J. Hairston from the NBA Development League’s Texas Legends, the rights to the 55th pick (Christon), their 2019 second round pick along with cash considerations.
Vonleh, with the ninth pick might be the best value in the lottery. He could have gone as high as 3 or 4, and now he’s paired next to Jefferson to provide an incredibly versatile attack on offense. Both players can play inside and both have the ability to face up. P.J. Hairston was the outside shooter they were looking for before the draft started. The Hornets traded Brendan Haywood and Dwight Powell to the Cavs for Alonzo Gee. Gee is a great pick-up at the small forward position. He can defend and is a high-flyer.
The Charlotte Hornets unveiled their new home (white), road (purple) and alternate (teal) uniforms on Thursday. Even though they brought back the original “Hornets” name, they didn’t bring back the pinstripe design, instead they went with the clean, block lettering with the signature stripes on the left side of each uniform.
The Charlotte Hornets also unveiled their new court design, featuring a honeycomb pattern with a teal border, purple lanes and a large Hornets logo at mid-court.
Buzz City is running with the old saying that “if you look good, then you’ll feel good and play good.” If this project keeps working for Charlotte, then the team and organization will be relevant once again.
Look out for the swarm!