Now that the Charlotte Bobcats have been eliminated by the Miami Heat in the first round of the NBA playoffs and we can begin referring to them as the Charlotte Hornets, they will begin to figure out how to improve their team.
If their recent history is any indication, they will be making noise in the offseason.
Last season, they added big man Al Jefferson, then traded for Gary Neal and Luke Ridnour.
One player they have been connected to for the better part of a year is Los Angeles Lakers’ power forward Pau Gasol.
According to Marc Stein, they could turn to a division rival to improve their team.
The buzz around the soon-to-be-resurrected Hornets is that a dependable small forward will surely be their top target in free agency … and MJ will again have money to spend, if he can find a willing taker.
Or Charlotte could certainly opt for trades to fill its nagging holes at both small forward and backup point guard if it fears the usual chilly summer chasing players on the open market. The rumbles have already begun that a player Clifford is said to regard with real fondness after working with him in Orlando as an assistant — vet floor leader Jameer Nelson — as well as current Magic swingman Arron Afflalo will be among the Bobcats’ trade targets.
Afflalo had an excellent season for the Magic, but he could be blocking Victor Oladipo. Afflalo is owed $7.5 million next season and has a player option worth $7.5 million for the 2015-16 season. Nelson is in the final year of his contract so the Magic could choose to trade him rather than paying him $2 million of the $8 million he is owed next year in order to buy him out.