The Charlotte Hornets had the opportunity to re-sign Jeremy Lin this offseason, but wouldn’t offer him the kind of money he wanted, and the number of minutes he needed, and so he left via free agency to the Brooklyn Nets. Head coach Steve Clifford seems to think his team got better in some ways and worse in others. Personally, I think Lin’s departure, along with other changes, only weakened the Hornets in both offensive and defensive aspects.
According to Clifford, speaking at a media luncheon, defensively his versatility will be missed because his ability to defend both point guards and shooting guards, and on offense, the Hornets are going to miss his ability to create for himself and others through penetration. Clifford acknowledges that offensively, his team doesn’t look as good as it was last season, but he feels they become better defensively thanks to the signings they made and the return of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, if he can actually stay healthy for long stretches.
This has a lot of ifs in it. Roy Hibbert came in, and he looks like a washed up player. Maybe knowing he’s playing on a team that wants to win, and he has the coach counting him, will pump some motivation into his tired looking body, but bringing him back to his defensive levels form the Indiana Pacers, and making him into someone who contributes anything on offense, is going to be difficult.
And I’m still not sure how Clifford plans to replace both Lin and Courtney Lee on defense. Nicolas Batum re-signed, and so did Marvin Williams, but they’re not likely to be better than last season on both ends of the floor. Kemba Walker is one big hole on defense, while both Marco Belinelli and Ramon Sessions are two players who add almost nothing on value to their defense. Clifford is mostly counting on resurrecting Hibbert, MKG staying healthy, Batum not having problems with his toe, and maybe Frank Kaminsky understanding what it means to guard someone a little better.
In short, the Hornets are weaker in my book, although a season can develop in weird ways, just like last season. The same goes for the Nets, who don’t seem like much right now, and while the offense might be a bit more fleshed out, the defense is one huge question mark, but maybe this season can become more than just building for the future and establishing a system and the players to go to battle with in 2017-2018. The Hornets keeping Lin just wasn’t going to happen, as it required more money than they could spend, and a role they weren’t willing to give him. He’s better off where he is now for his individual growth. Not sure the Hornets are better off without him.