Hornets Criticized For Not Paying To Keep All-Star Kemba Walker
The Hornets "haven’t done their fans any favors by managing to mismanage this Kemba Walker situation so completely," after the three-time All-Star left the team in free agency to sign a four-year, $141M max contract with the Celtics, according to Scott Fowler of the CHARLOTTE OBSERVER. The Hornets "didn’t do all they could to keep" Walker, as the team's reported offer of around five-year, $160M "actually counts as a lowball." The team "could have gone more" than $50M higher overall, to $221M. Hornets Owner Michael Jordan and GM Mitch Kupchak have "got some serious explaining to do." Fowler: "If you knew all along that you weren’t paying the NBA luxury tax, and that signing Walker to a max or supermax deal would get you into luxury-tax territory, then why didn’t you deal the franchise’s leading all-time scorer and three-time NBA all-star a year ago?" The Hornets' "insistence on not paying the luxury tax for a mediocre -- or worse -- team is actually understandable." What is not "understandable is how poorly they spend the money they do have" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 7/1). ESPN's Clinton Yates said Jordan not wanting to pay the luxury tax for a mediocre team "doesn't make any sense." Yates: "How do you expect to get into contention if you're not letting your best players come back to the team. Nobody is showing up to watch anybody other than Kemba Walker on that team. You've got to put butts in the seats" ("PTI," ESPN, 6/28).
TOUGH PILL: ESPN's Pablo Torre asked, "What the hell is Michael Jordan doing? Because last year he had the opportunity to trade Kemba Walker." But ESPN's Bomani Jones said the Hornets "need to sell tickets because teams that are in that range and that market size when they're bad and they're on downswings, it really hurts the bottomline." He added, "That's the only explanation I have as to why they kept him rather than trade him" ("High Noon," ESPN, 6/28). In Massachusetts, John Karalis wrote the Celtics "saved their offseason" by signing Walker, all because the Hornets' front office is "about as competent as a starting pitcher at London Stadium." Bad teams "stay bad for a reason." The Hornets have "shown a refusal to adhere to some basic principles of team-building." The Hornets "seem to operate with blinders on, and their tunnel vision has cost them opportunities to be better" (MASSLIVE.com, 6/30). The Athletic's Frank Isola said "this is what I love about Michael Jordan the owner who doesn't want to spend the money: his last two years with the Bulls" he earned $30M and $33M and "now that he's an owner he doesn't want to spend" ("PTI," ESPN, 6/28). NBCSPORTS.com's Tom Haberstroh wrote for the Hornets, the "most prudent plan going forward will be to bottom out" in this season and "try to earn the No. 1 overall pick" (NBCSPORTS.com, 6/30).