The Charlotte Hornets were a lot of fun to watch last year, at least on offense. Naturally LaMelo Ball was the star that everyone always zeroed in on, and rightfully so. The future is bright for Ball.
But lost on the shadows at times was the play of Miles Bridges, who picked the perfect time to have a career-year (20.2 points per game, 7.0 rebounds, 3.8 assists), now getting set for restricted free agency, and a ton of interest on the market.
The Hornets have said they'll match any offer sheet for Bridges, but the price could get steep for the 24-year old.
A Robust Market
Taking the Hornets out of the equation for a second, the co-favorites to sign Bridges away are the Pacers and Timberwolves at +300. After that, you're looking at teams like Pistons (+350), Magic (+450), Hawks and Blazers (+500), Mavericks (+600), and Bulls (+700).
Indy has reportedly been thinking about making a run, but they're also now in a rebuild, so it really wouldn't make sense to pay so much for some lean years ahead. There's a lot of talk that the Grizzlies are a "sleeper candidate" for Bridges, who played at Michigan State with Jaren Jackson Jr., while Minnesota would be a solid fit, especially with the nightly highlight-reel dunks we'd get from both him and Anthony Edwards.
The reality check for any of these teams though comes with the fact that Charlotte still gets the final say on whether or not he comes back. Even if a team like Detroit, Orlando, or San Antonio decides to offer a max deal, the Hornets can just swallow that pill and match, keeping him in a Hornets uniform.
Charlotte gained a lot of momentum last year, and with Steve Clifford back coaching and inevitably forcing this roster to play some level of competitive defense (22nd in defensive rating this past season), the arrow is trending up, and it would be smart for Michael Jordan and Co. to keep that going in the same direction.
The Hornets have the 10th-best odds to win the Eastern Conference (+4933 consensus), and at this point, it's not really even worth looking at NBA title odds (+11800), so we won't (besides me putting it there for you anyway), but there's still expected to be some high expectations for this team in 2022-23.
I'd expect Bridges to stay in Charlotte, but not until the market sets his price for them, which can be risky, but it's the nature of the beast for the Hornets right now.