Trouble Buzzing in Charlotte

The Charlotte Hornets are looking to take another step forward.  Last year, they made the playoffs for the second time under the reign of Michael Jordan, but were swept out by LeBron James and the Miami Heat.  So the team went to work this offseason, quickly signing the gifted-but-combustible Lance Stephenson away from the Indiana Pacers.  They also added Marvin Williams to replace Josh McRoberts as the starting power forward and drafted a physical specimen in Noah Vonleh and a knockdown shooter in P.J. Hairston.

Charlotte has most of its core returning from last season and is looking to grow into a legitimate contender.  But will these moves be enough to make the Charlotte Hornets one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference this year?  ESPN’s Forecast Panel has them projected to finish 5th in the East, but there are some signs that indicate it won’t be quite so easy to duplicate a trip to the playoffs.

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How J-Smoove Can Find His Groove

NBA free agency is winding down.  Yet, a couple high-profile names still don’t know where they will be playing next year: restricted free agents Eric Bledsoe and Greg Monroe.  The former is in the middle of a contract negotiation meltdown with the Suns, pushing his relationship with the team to “the verge of [being] irreparable."  The latter is disgruntled with the current roster makeup of his Detroit Pistons.  More specifically, Monroe has a problem with a certain player:

Josh Smith.

I understand that Smith and Monroe share the same natural position (power forward) and do not complement each other’s games, but Monroe is at the point where he is on the verge of signing a one-year qualifying offer from the Pistons instead of agreeing to a lucrative long-term deal.  The implied message is that Monroe will flee the Motor City next summer if Smith is still there.

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Stretch Bigs: Show Me the Money

Free agency has gotten off to a slow start, thanks to the one and only LeBron James.  However, there have already been a few signings, and big men with shooting range have been flying off the shelf.  Three have signed with new teams (Channing Frye, Spencer Hawes, and Josh McRoberts), while another took a hometown discount on his new extension (Dirk Nowitzki).

As defenses have developed smarter schemes and game plans, floor spacing and shooting have never been more important.  Thus, teams have been slobbering over big men who can shoot from distance (players also known as stretch bigs), throwing large sums of money their way.  But are all of these stretch bigs really worth it?

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