NBA Rumors: Miles Bridges to Command Max Contract; Hornets Hesitant to Match an Offer

Rob Goldberg@@TheRobGoldbergFeatured Columnist IVJune 20, 2022

CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 08: Charlotte Hornets forward Miles Bridges (0) in action during a NBA game between the Charlotte Hornets and the Chicago Bulls on April 8, 2022 at the United Center in Chicago, IL. (Photo by Melissa Tamez/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Melissa Tamez/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Charlotte Hornets might not retain restricted free agent Miles Bridges after a breakout season from the forward.

Rival executives reportedly expect Bridges to land a max or "near-max" deal this offseason, per Shams Charania in The Athletic. The Hornets will have the opportunity to match any offer, but Charania reported there is "hesitancy from Charlotte to match a max sheet."

Bridges started 80 games last season, averaging 20.2 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game. These were all career highs as he finished seventh in the league's Most Improved Player award.

The 24-year-old remained efficient during his transition into a bigger role last year, leading the Hornets with 7.2 win shares as they posted a winning record for the first time since 2015-16.

Charlotte (43-39) was 5.8 points per 100 possessions better than Bridges was on the court last season, easily the best on the team.

It would represent a significant loss if the first-rounder out of Michigan State were to leave in free agency, especially as the Hornets try to take the next step toward playoff contention. The squad has developed a quality young core featuring LaMelo Ball and Terry Rozier, but it would be difficult to remain competitive in the East without Bridges.

The Hornets have also struggled to hire a new coach, with Kenny Atkinson backing out to remain an assistant with the Golden State Warriors.

The franchise last made the playoffs in 2015-16 with Kemba Walker leading the way, but the point guard left in free agency in 2019 after Charlotte failed to offer a max contract. It seems Charlotte could let another top player go because of a low-ball offer.