Charlotte Hornets

Replying to Charlotte Hornets questions on free agency, salary cap, team expectations

New Charlotte Hornets center Dwight Howard has played on teams that reached the playoffs 10 of his 13 NBA seasons.
New Charlotte Hornets center Dwight Howard has played on teams that reached the playoffs 10 of his 13 NBA seasons. TNS

Quite a week the Charlotte Hornets had: They trade for center Dwight Howard, an eight-time All-Star who proclaims he wants to complete his career here. Then they use the No. 11 overall pick on Kentucky’s Malik Monk, who might have been the best shooter in the 2017 NBA draft.

The fanbase sounds energized. You asked questions via Twitter. Here are my replies:

Q. As good as the offseason has been, do you think the Hornets have a chance of obtaining a big free agent or maybe (San Antonio Spur LaMarcus) Aldridge in a trade?

A. The Hornets don’t have the salary-cap flexibility to pursue a major free agent this summer. They are over the projected salary cap (about $99 million per team), which means the most they could offer a free agent is the mid-level exception, which is about $8.4 million this summer.

Q. Does (Hornets owner) Michael Jordan get two checks now for selling a Hornets jersey with an Air Jordan logo?

A. If you mean the Hornets will get a portion of the NBA’s licensing fee, plus a fee for promoting Jordan Brand, yes. But a lot of other NBA teams are also selling this advertising space on their jerseys. Only difference is Jordan’s business relationship with Nike.

Q. What should Hornets fans expect from Dwight Howard? Predictions on minutes per game for him and Cody Zeller?

A. I think Howard will start and average a double-double in points and rebounds (as he has every one of his 13 NBA seasons). I think Zeller will play a lot and might finish games, considering Howard’s career 56.6 percent from the foul line.

Q. What happens to the $1.8 million the Hornets received in the trade with the Pelicans? Doesn’t help the salary cap, does it?

A. Cash payments between teams as part of trades don’t directly affect either team’s salary cap. The cap number for each team is the total combined salary of the players on the roster.

Q. With perimeter defense an issue last season, do you think the Hornets will look for a bigger point guard to pair with Malik Monk in the second unit?

A. They should. Monk, at 6-3, will likely struggle defending bigger shooting guards. Finding a point guard taller than Monk could mitigate that circumstance, but ultimately Monk is going to have to figure how to play NBA-level defense.

Q. What is the mathematical probability of the next NBA Finals coming down to Cleveland and Golden State again?

A. I’d say 80 percent, to account for the possibility of a serious injury. If LeBron James were lost for the season, the Cleveland Cavaliers would stop being a clear favorite to win the East. The Warriors have more options, but Stephen Curry or Kevin Durant going down would also be a major hit.

Q. What undrafted Hornets summer-league player might have the best chance of making the roster?

A. Maybe Gonzaga center Przemek Karnowski. Obviously, he’s flawed if he wasn’t drafted. But a 7-1, 300-pound guy might be a good candidate for one of those two-way contracts NBA rules allow this season, where he’s the Hornets’ property, but spends most of his rookie season with the Greensboro Swarm.

Q. Is the mid-level exception going to be enough to attract a productive second-unit point guard?

A. Maybe. One of the problems would be convincing a point guard on a title contender (Shaun Livingston with the Warriors or Patty Mills with the Spurs) to leave that organization for a team coming off a 36-46 season. You might have to overpay if you want a realistic shot at filling that hole.

Q. What’s your expectations for next season? Now that we have Howard and Monk, is that enough to reach the playoffs?

A. I think so. Howard’s teams have made the playoffs 10 of his 13 previous seasons. He should provide the rim protection this team lacked last season. Monk has obvious offensive tools if he can figure it out defensively. Also, two teams that made the Eastern Conference playoff draw – the Chicago Bulls (minus Jimmy Butler) and Indiana Pacers (might have to trade Paul George) – figure to be weaker next season.

Bonnell: 704-358-5129: @rick_bonnell