The Charlotte Hornets head into the final months of the season looking to keep their hold on the playoffs.
The Charlotte Hornets have until this afternoon to accomplish any further trade. While they have interest in Dwight Howard and Houston clearly has a problem brewing between Howard and James Harden, it seems unlikely that deal will come to fruition. So we should look at the keys for the Hornets as they try to finish off the season in the playoff chase.
1. Hello Courtney Lee
The 6’5” swingman from the Memphis Grizzlies is just what the doctor ordered in trying to replace Michael Kidd-Gilchrist for the next couple months. Sure I would have preferred Trevor Ariza from the Rockets, but Ariza would also have had three years to run on his deal. That would have conflicted with the eventual return of Kidd-Gilchrist to the starting lineup.
Lee is an expiring deal, so he doesn’t work out then the Hornets can simply move on from him at season’s end.
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2. The Return of Big Al
Al Jefferson has gone from being the team’s offensive focus last year to more of a supporting role this year because injury kept him off the court and the adjustments the Hornets have made worked so well. However he is still an inside scoring threat and a proven rebounder. He also will have something to prove as his contract year season has not really gone the way he had planned.
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3. Can We Be Done with the Injuries?
This Hornets team was once second in the East before injuries brought them crashing to Earth. Momentum has been precious, and the return of Kidd-Gilchrist brought some back only for him to go down again. No one has been spared with Jeremy Lin, Jeremy Lamb, Nicolas Batum, Cody Zeller, and Kemba Walker all missing time at one point or another.
4. Just Get There
The Eastern Conference has a lot of mediocrity. That means there is not a scary team outside of the drama factory that is the Cleveland Cavaliers. That also means that any team who gets in the playoffs in the 2-7 seeds has a chance to make noise. The Hornets are currently sitting eighth, but just getting to seventh might mean all the difference in the world.
The Hornets return to action against Milwaukee tomorrow night.