Michael Kidd-Gilchrist has spent his entire career as a member of the Charlotte Hornets, and he will remain with the franchise that drafted him for the foreseeable future, as the team announced his contract extension Wednesday.
"I want to thank Hornets ownership, [general manager] Rich [Cho], [assistant GM] Chad [Buchanan], Coach [Steve] Clifford and the entire organization," said Kidd-Gilchrist. "I'm excited to continue my career in Charlotte and be a part of the Hornets organization moving forward. I can't wait to get out on the court with my teammates for this upcoming season."
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports first reported Aug. 24 that the Hornets were "finalizing a four-year, $52 million contract extension" with the former Kentucky Wildcat. Wojnarowski pointed out that Kidd-Gilchrist is "eligible for a rookie extension prior to the start of the 2015-16 season" as a member of the 2012 draft class.
The contract extension prevents Kidd-Gilchrist from becoming a restricted free agent following the upcoming season.
The forward averaged 10.9 points and 7.6 rebounds per game in 2014-15, both career highs. He is only 21 years old, so the statistical improvement likely encouraged the Hornets front office and contributed to the decision to offer this extension.
"Michael is a huge part of what we are trying to build here in Charlotte," Cho said. "He has dedicated himself to improving and expanding his game. Michael continues to develop on both ends of the court and has become a key piece of our team. We are thrilled that he is a Charlotte Hornet."
Kidd-Gilchrist is a matchup nightmare at 6'7" with the athleticism to blow by slower defenders and the leaping ability to contribute on the boards.
While the offensive numbers are certainly a welcome development in Charlotte, Kidd-Gilchrist's greatest value is on the defensive side.
He boasts the wingspan to disrupt outside shots and the quickness to dart into passing lanes. His rebounding is also critical on that end, but his ability to play larger than his height indicates allows for matchup versatility. Kidd-Gilchrist held opponents to 7.7 percent worse shooting within six feet of the basket than their season average last year, per NBA.com.
It takes a willingness to get involved in the paint to put up defensive numbers like that, and Kidd-Gilchrist seems to have it given his comments, per the Associated Press (h/t ESPN.com): "I don't like getting scored on by anyone in the league. That's what it comes down to. I'm just a competitor at heart."
The Hornets will have that attitude leading their defense for years to come.