After losing in the 2014 NBA Finals to the San Antonio Spurs, all eyes will be on LeBron James as he nears his decision regarding his Early Termination Option. His current team, the Miami Heat, appeared seemingly depleted in the Finals. For this reason, and several others, James should consider the Charlotte Hornets during the upcoming free agency period.
Signing with Charlotte would give James the chance to team up with Al Jefferson. This past season, Jefferson revealed once again that he is one of the best low-post scorers in the NBA. Jefferson surprisingly led the Hornets to a playoff berth, averaging more than 21 points and nearly 11 rebounds per game. Jefferson would certainly be one of the best players James has ever played along, and pairing up with Jefferson would give James the rare opportunity to take a backseat on offense when he feels the need. At point guard, Kemba Walker leads the Hornets, another player who could possible sway James in signing with Charlotte.
This Hornets’ core, also highlighted by Cody Zeller and Gerald Henderson, boasts a team-average age under 27 years. As seen in the waning moments of the NBA Finals, James’ fellow Miami teammates looked extremely fatigued. The possibility of playing with a much younger Hornets team would be yet another selling point for this Charlotte squad.
The most important part of the Hornets’ situation is their salary cap space. The Hornets have enough money to sign James to a near max-deal, something that the majority of NBA team’s cannot say they can do.
To complete the pitch, Charlotte can can boast their two draft picks in the first round (No. 9 and No. 24), extremely valuable in a deep 2014 NBA Draft. Adding James and two other young pieces could make the Hornets’ a viable title contender.
Charlotte, a team that made the playoffs and achieved 43 wins in one season, is officially to considered to be on the rise. Steve Clifford, the architect of this Hornets’ team, showed an impressive ability to turn around the Hornets’ rebuilding project rather quickly. Charlotte’s culture is built on defense, playing the sixth best defense in terms of efficiency in the entire league. With free agency drawing nearer, some fans may laugh at the best player in the game considering Charlotte, one of the smallest markets in the NBA. If James reviews all of his options, Charlotte makes a pretty solid case in competing in the James-derby.