Report Card Grades for Charlotte Hornets' 2014 Offseason so Far

Justin Hussong@@HeatChecksHussContributor IIIJuly 15, 2014

Report Card Grades for Charlotte Hornets' 2014 Offseason so Far

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    Most of the big waves of NBA free agency have come and gone, leaving the Charlotte Hornets in more of a precarious position than fans would like.

    Charlotte's offseason has been devoid of any eye-popping moves. The front office has done a good job of slowly developing the team into one of the true up-and-comers in the Eastern Conference. Nonetheless, enough has been done to hand out a few report card grades.

    The Hornets established a strong foundation in their final go-around as the Bobcats. With a great coach in Steve Clifford finally in place, as well as Al Jefferson and Kemba Walker, Charlotte is bringing back the buzz with something to hang its hat on. Doing anything rash to disrupt the great situation going would be inexcusable.

    For the time being, Charlotte hasn't done a lot but has still ruffled a few feathers this offseason. The draft provoked immediate rave reviews, but free agency has been mostly uneventful.

Drafting Noah Vonleh and P.J. Hairston

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    Chuck Burton/Associated Press

    Fans were elated when Noah Vonleh slipped down to the No. 9 spot in the NBA draft, since few thought he would fall past fifth. It was the second consecutive year that Charlotte used its lottery pick on a young power forward out of Indiana, but Vonleh was simply too good to pass up.

    P.J. Hairston slipping to the 26th pick was icing on the cake. He was a troubled prospect—a reputation he reinforced with his recent altercation with a high school player during a pickup gamebut no one doubts his ability. Had he avoided trouble and stayed at North Carolina instead of getting suspended, it would have surprised no one had he turned into a lottery pick.

    Only five teams made fewer threes than Charlotte last season, so Hairston can make an immediate impact. Kemba Walker led the team with 109 threes, but Josh McRoberts and his 105 threes are now in Miami, and Anthony Tolliver (102 threes) is a free agent. That leaves the team with just about nothing in terms of outside shooting.

    Vonleh can hit from outside as well, but the Hornets see him more as a great all-around future star at the power forward spot.

    Expectations have to be quelled just a bit because both of these players are still so young. They also shot a combined 2-of-29 in Charlotte's first summer league game which is...well, not very good.

    Grade: A-

Signing Gordon Hayward to a Huge Offer Sheet

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    Rick Bowmer/Associated Press

    Charlotte made a loud statement early in free agency by signing Gordon Hayward to a four-year, $63 million offer sheet.

    The only problem was that the Utah Jazz said they would match any offer to their 24-year-old forward, and they stayed true to their word.

    What Hayward would have given the Hornets would have been ideal. It was a lot of money for a guy with declining field-goal percentages in each of his four years, but it is understood that small markets like Charlotte will have to overpay to get the guys that they want. The Hornets did it with Jefferson, and they were prepared to do it with Hayward.

    They could have used a second player capable of handling the ball to create for teammates. Hayward averaged more than five assists per game last year and is the type of offensive presence that Charlotte needed for a shot in the arm.

    But we can "would've" and "could've" until his new contract is up. The fact is that Charlotte didn't get its man and is now in a bit of a predicament because of it. That was a titanic swing-and-a-miss by the front office, and in hindsight it may have been advantageous to make a run at Chandler Parsons instead.

    Of course, nobody could have known that, but a big caveat of restricted free agency is exactly this. Charlotte is left to pick up the pieces after having a potential franchise-changer ripped from its grasp.

    You can't fault them for trying, though.

    Grade: B+

Letting Josh McRoberts Take His Talents to South Beach

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    This one burns.

    Anyone who watched five minutes of a Bobcats game last year immediately recognized how vital Josh McRoberts was to their success. He started 78 games and was truly the glue that held them together.

    He filled every void they needed. He turned himself into a good outside shooter since nobody else on the roster was capable of it. He stretched the floor for Al Jefferson. He embraced Clifford's defensive ideologies and became a much better player on that end of the floor.

    Did I mention he was second in the entire league in assist-to-turnover ratio? The entire league. Chris Paul, arguably the league's best point guard, was the only one who bested him in that category. McBob was the only player in the top 20 in that category who isn't a point guard.

    All that is heading to Miami for just $23 million over four years? That is less than Channing Frye got and less annually than Charlotte gave to Utah Jazz afterthought Marvin Williams.

    It was understood McRoberts might have priced his way out of Charlotte's budget, but by paying so much attention to Hayward, the Hornets let a vital player slip away from them.

    Everyone on the roster now has big shoes to fill. No single player can be picked up or developed to replicate what he did for this team.

    Grade: F

Signing Brian Roberts

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    Jonathan Bachman/Associated Press

    General manager Rich Cho was adamant about finding a backup point guard this offseason. Since it didn't happen, he had to go out and lock up Brian Roberts for two years and $5.5 million.

    Roberts is unspectacular, but he definitely fits the bill. He also has experience being a Hornet!

    OK, different Hornet.

    Roberts was plunged into a starting role for a good portion of last year with the Pelicans following Jrue Holiday's injury. He posted 9.4 points and 3.3 assists per game and made 42 starts.

    His most vital attributes to Charlotte are his ability to hit from downtown (36 percent last year) and his propensity for taking care of the ball. He will not wow anybody in any aspect, but he is the type of affordable and dependable change-of-pace player that the team needs behind Walker.

    Roberts has poise beyond his years and will make life easier for the young guys coming off the bench. D.J. Augustin or Shaun Livingston would have been more inspiring, but nobody is complaining here.

    Worst-case scenario: He still does better than Luke Ridnour.

    Grade: B+

Signing Marvin Williams

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    Why? Just why?

    It is understood that Marvin Williams will never live up to his No. 2 draft selection and likely won't even be nearly as good as he ever was with the Atlanta Hawks. He is mostly a one-trick pony at this juncture as a mildly decent outside shooter.

    Charlotte does need shooters, but for two years and $14 million? Again, McRoberts got less, and he was monumentally more effective than Williams last year. Charlotte could have found more than one shooter for that price if that is what it was going for. Tolliver could have been re-signed for a fraction of that to do the same thing with more efficiency.

    Williams can hold his own on defense, but there shouldn't be enough minutes to go around for Charlotte to warrant paying him that money. If all goes according to plan, Vonleh and Cody Zeller will eat up a lot of power forward minutes, and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist will improve more and take the majority of the small forward minutes.

    This move smelled of desperation after the team whiffed on Gordon Hayward. It may have been a pipe dream, but if Charlotte wanted to go this route, it could have chased Luol Deng harder. In no world is Marvin Williams worth $7 million annually, while Deng is worth $10 million.

    Purely from a fit and in terms of him filling a need, this signing is probably about a B-minus. When you factor in the money and the unfathomable notion that Charlotte gave him more annually than McRoberts got, it is undeniably a huge misstep.

    Grade: D