The Charlotte Hornets have a cool tradition. They plaster a player’s name on the big screen outside Time Warner Cable Arena whenever they want to welcome him to Charlotte (or, occasionally, when they are recruiting that player).
I happened by that sign three different times in the past 13 months, pulled out my phone and snapped the pictures that accompany this story. A quick look at what has happened since these pictures were taken.
Picture taken: July 7, 2014.
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Signed a contract for: Four years and $63 million, as the Hornets tried to make Hayward one of the team’s centerpieces.
What was said at the time: “He shoots really well and he’s big for a guard. I think he’d be perfect for us.” – Charlotte’s Cody Zeller on Hayward, before Utah matched the deal and kept Hayward’s rights.
What happened then? Utah gave Hayward the same deal. Since Hayward was a restricted free agent he couldn’t go anywhere and the Hornets lost him. Hayward averaged 19.3 points, 4.9 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game last season and is frequently bemoaned in Hornets’ fan circles as the big fish who got away.
Picture taken: July 18, 2014.
Signed a contract for: Three years, $27.4 million with Charlotte (with the third year a team option).
What was said at the time: “I am definitely a great player. ... When we need a bucket, I feel like me, Kemba (Walker) and Al (Jefferson) will be the go-to guys.” – Lance Stephenson, the day the Hornets introduced him in July 2014.
What happened then? The Hornets traded Stephenson to the L.A. Clippers in June 2015 after one horrendous season. Stephenson had the worst three-point percentage in NBA history in 2014-15 for a player who attempted more than 100 three-pointers in a season (17.1) and never could find his niche in Charlotte.
“Sometimes things don’t work out and you have to move on,” Hornets general manager Rich Cho said.
Picture taken: July 13, 2015.
Signed a contract for: Two years, $4.37 million
What was said at the time: “One thing I ... really wanted is to get back to who I am as a player, which is trying to be aggressive, playmaking, always on the attack. I’m always charging toward the rim and that’s going to create easier shots for this team.” – Jeremy Lin, at his news conference to announce his signing.
What happened then? Nothing yet, but Lin is supposed to provide an offensive spark for the Hornets’ second unit and occasionally play alongside Kemba Walker on the first team.