The Charlotte Hornets enjoyed one of the most successful seasons in team history last year, posting a record of 43-39 after going a combined 28-120 in the previous two seasons.
The biggest reason for the turnaroun was the addition of Al Jefferson, who signed a three-year, $41 million deal.
“We just need to continue to build off of what we what we did last year,” Jefferson told Basketball Insiders. “We know that if we play defense and focus on defense, we will have a chance to win. That’s one of the things that I did last year that I’ve never done before, just really buying in to the defensive end. I believe us finishing sixth in the NBA in defense was the reason why we had the success we had. We just have to continue to build off that.”
The Hornets planned to make a big move this offseason as well. However, after the Utah Jazz matched the four-year, $63 million offer sheet the Hornets signed Gordon Hayward to, it looked like they may strike out. Instead, they rebounded quickly, signing Jazz forward Marvin Williams to a two-year, $14 million deal and New Orleans Pelicans’ point guard Brian Roberts to a two-year, $5.5 million contact.
The big coup was the acquisition of Indiana Pacers’ guard Lance Stephenson, who signed a three-year, $27 million deal.
“I think Lance is the type of guy we need on our team,” Jefferson said. “[He’ll] bring that aggressiveness on defense, he’s a playmaker, he can shoot it and he knows what it takes to win. He’s got deep into the playoffs every year for the past couple years. I’m really excited to have him.”
With those moves in a wide open Eastern Conference, the Hornets could be a real player in the 2015 postseason. Plus, they reportedly have “one more move up their sleeve.”