Miles Bridges might be set up for a very lucrative summer as a restricted free agent.
HoopsHype's Michael Scotto reported on Thursday that "four NBA executives told me he could earn $25 million annually or more in free agency. If there becomes a bidding war for Bridges, he could get a max contract."
Bridges, 24, had an excellent 2021-22 season, averaging career highs in points (20.2 PPG), rebounds (7.0 RPG) and assists (3.8 APG).
He didn't have his best season from the field, shooting 49.1 percent overall and 33.1 percent from three, though some of that came with attempting a career-high 15.2 field goals per game as Charlotte's top scorer.
Bridges offers high-flying athleticism—as evidenced by his many lob finishes—and the defensive versatility on the wing that teams crave in the modern NBA. Add in his improved offense game, and it isn't hard to imagine him being paid a hefty sum summer.
He's certainly shown his value for Charlotte.
"Bridges has to fit your style," an executive told Scotto. "He's improved so much as a perimeter shooter. I think he's a two-way guy. I like his athleticism in transition. He's got a pretty good IQ. He and LaMelo Ball have a good thing going. So many of their assists are instinctual where the defender isn't looking, and Miles back cuts around him and gets an alley-oop. I can see LaMelo saying he wants the team to keep him."
The Hornets will have the option to do so, as they can match any offer Bridges receives in free agency. Whether they'll be willing to dip into the luxury tax to bring him back is another issue entirely, but from a pure basketball standpoint, keeping him in Charlotte is the logical move.
Trading a player like Gordon Hayward and the $61 million he's owed over the next two seasons might help alleviate some of Bridges' incoming cap hit.
The Hornets could find a way to trim some payroll on the margins of the roster as well. Ultimately, losing a player of his ability could end up being a costly mistake for a Hornets team building around a young superstar in Ball.