Charlotte Hornets Rumors
Coach Steve Clifford said Monday he’d prefer to coach the same group again, but acknowledged it might be difficult to re-sign everyone given the NBA salary cap. Much of the Hornets future could be predicated on what happens with unrestricted free agent Nicolas Batum, whom Clifford acknowledged will be the team’s No. 1 priority in free agency. Batum averaged a career-high 14.9 points along with 6.1 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game for the Hornets during the regular season, although his production was limited in the postseason due to a foot injury. The Hornets lost in seven games to the Miami Heat on Sunday.
When asked if he wants to return next year, Batum said, “Why not?,” saying this past season was one of the most enjoyable of his eight-year NBA career. He liked the freedom Clifford gave him and the idea of being one of first two options on offense.
“I want to talk to (the Hornets) first, for sure. July 1 will be a crazy day, but will Charlotte be my first call? Yes,” Nicolas Batum said of free agency. However, Batum indicated he only wants to return if the Hornets make an effort to bring back the nucleus of this year’s team. He said the chemistry of this year’s Hornets team was outstanding, on and off the court.
Courtney Lee, Marvin Williams and Al Jefferson also indicated their desire to return to the Hornets as well, but it remains unclear if general manager Rich Cho can — or even wants to — bring everyone back for another run at the playoffs or if he’ll look in a different direction to upgrade.