The Charlotte Hornets have yet to sign a third point guard and with few left on the open market, Norris Cole may be the best option.
All of the best free agents have already been signed. That includes the best backup point guards. The Charlotte Hornets are still searching for a veteran third string player to play behind Kemba Walker and Michael Carter-Williams and with few options remaining, Norris Cole is arguably the best point guard still available.
Although the 28-year old is coming off of a career-worst season, he is still garnering interest from a number of teams from around the league including the Hornets. Charlotte brought him in for a free agent point guard workout group. He was among eight players who worked out for the team.
Looking at the other free agent options, there isn’t one player who stands out above the rest. There are a couple of big names like Ty Lawson and Deron Williams but they are either past their prime or looking for more money/playing time elsewhere. As for the few promising prospects, Charlotte’s made it pretty clear that they are leaning towards a veteran rather than a young player.
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I recently wrote about how the team should strongly consider Quinn Cook but if the Hornets decide to go in the direction of experience, Norris should be their first option. Not only does he have championship knowledge but he also knows what it takes to be a good teammate and how to play his role.
Although he only averaged 3.3 points per game and 1.1 assists per game while shooting poorly (30.8% FG, 23.1% 3P) last season, Cole has had some recent success in the league. Just two years ago in 2015-16, he managed to put up 10.6 PPG, 3.7 APG and 3.4 RPG with the New Orleans Pelicans. That was the best year of his career as he also shot over 40% from the field and 32% from deep.
Heading into the 2017-18 campaign, the Hornets do not have a single player on their roster that has won an NBA Title. Norris would give them that and he could share his experience with the team as he won two championships with the Miami Heat as an important role player for them off the bench.
Looking at Charlotte’s rotation, MCW is the main backup to Kemba but they don’t have a reliable option behind those two if one gets injured. Brian Roberts was a bit of a liability last season when he was asked to step in. Outside of last season, Cole has proven to be a reliable option for every team he’s played on and that’s what coaches are looking for in third string players.
Although the Hornets signed two point guards in Marcus Paige and T.J. Williams, both are not going to start the regular season on the roster. Paige was signed to a two-way deal meaning that he will spend most of the year in Greensboro with the Swarm of the G-League while Williams is a training camp signing who will most likely be waived prior to the first game of the year.
The move also makes sense money wise and role wise for both sides. Cole can probably be had for the veteran minimum which is exactly what Charlotte’s looking to spend to stay under the luxury tax. As for the role, Norris is likely looking to stay in the NBA and the Hornets would put him on a playoff contender on the up in the weak Eastern Conference where he is aguarnteed a role behind Kemba and Carter-Williams.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Norris Cole is still on the Charlotte Hornets’ radar after his workout with them. The team is still assessing all of their options but the former first round pick looks to be the best player still available. By signing the 6’2 point guard, they would know what they are getting and that is a reliable shooter (career 32.4% three-point) and playmaker who takes care of the ball. They won’t be able to find that anywhere else as every other free agent point guard is either unproven or past their prime.