The Charlotte Hornets have finalized their 15-man regular season roster and officially filled both of their two-way contracts as of Sunday. The team signed rookies Caleb Martin and Jalen McDaniels to multi-year contracts and waived Ahmed Hill so they could convert Kobi Simmons to a two-way contract.
Kobi Simmons and Caleb Martin both had solid play during the Hornets’ preseason, having their fair share of impressive performances, on the way to earning them their perspective contracts. Jalen McDaniels joined the Hornets last week due to contract negotiations, but now all three are under contract and will look to compete on this new-look Hornets team.
It has been echoed continuously that this new era the Charlotte Hornets have begun is centered around player development, and these signings further prove that point. The team is using the remaining roster spots on players with upside that can contribute to this team further down the road in the future. Hornets’ new player development coach Nick Friedman will oversee the development of all Hornets players going between Greensboro & Charlotte. Friedman will be in charge of the development of players such as Kobi Simmons, Robert Franks, Cody and Caleb Martin, Jalen McDaniels, and other Hornets young players.
The Hornets’ 15-man roster consists of the following: Miles Bridges, P.J. Washington, Cody Zeller, Dwayne Bacon, Terry Rozier, Caleb Martin, Cody Martin, Nicolas Batum, Bismack Biyombo, Devonte’ Graham, Willy Hernangomez, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Jalen McDaniels, Malik Monk, Marvin Williams. Kobi Simmons and Robert Franks fill Charlotte’s two two-way contracts.
This organization has a long view in place and isn’t necessarily trying to win now. Instead, they are looking to develop winning habits, compete every night, play at a high pace, defend, and focus primarily on player development. Patience is a must, and with a roster consisting of mainly young players, it is to the surprise of no one that player development is the “life blood of this organization” as James Borrego explained a few weeks back in Chapel Hill during training camp. The Hornets are at the dawn of a new era and are all-in on the progression of their young talent, especially recently signed Kobi Simmons, Caleb Martin, and Jalen McDaniels.
Caleb Martin missed out on participating in Vegas Summer League as he was rehabbing a foot injury, so this preseason was the first live action we got to see. Very quickly it was obvious that Caleb was going to likely end up on the 15-man roster. His energy was contagious, and he was making shots and doing everything James Borrego asked of him and in return he got a multi-year contract from Charlotte. Caleb and his twin brother Cody are both on the Hornets’ regular season roster.
The Hornets are trying to establish a culture that revolves around competing, defense, and high pace on offense – pushing it in transition, attacking the rim, and playing fast. Caleb Martin showed all of these things in preseason and garnered praise from James Borrego. Last week he blocked a dunk attempt from Andre Drummond, dove out of bounds to save a loose ball, and later tried to posterize Langston Galloway from the free throw line that fired up the entire Hornets bench and all of the fans in the Spectrum Center. Those are just a few examples of the contagious energy Caleb Martin brings on an every night basis, and Borrego loves it.
This preseason for the Charlotte Hornets, Martin averaged 9.6 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 1.2 assists in 20.6 minutes per game. He was always one of the first two players off the bench since Nicolas Batum went out with an Achilles injury, so it is obvious that he has the trust of the coaching staff. As it sits now, it is looking like Caleb is going to see more consistent NBA minutes to start the season than his brother.
Jalen McDaniels only recently joined the Hornets midway through preseason, joining the team on October 10th after cutting Thomas Welsh to create an open roster spot. The Hornets offered McDaniels a minimum rookie tender back in early September that he decided not to sign, resulting in him not joining the team until last week. The minimum rookie tender is partially guaranteed and typically valued at one-year/$900k. In return he got a multi-year contract that is partially guaranteed; details have not yet been released.
The Hornets’ 52nd overall pick from June’s draft only appeared in two preseason games for the team, averaging 1.0 points and 0.5 rebounds in 5.3 minutes per game. The feeling is that Jalen will be on G-League assignment either to start the season or for a large chunk of his rookie year. The reasoning, again, is due to the short time he has been with the team, and it is obvious that he will not be a part of the Hornets’ rotation anytime soon. The San Diego State product would get better use of his time getting some burn in Greensboro with the Swarm.
Jalen McDaniels has potential and is why the Hornets drafted him. It is going to take time to develop him, but the Hornets are in an era where patience and time are copious, so there is no rush to formulating him into a contributor right away. Player development is a journey, and progress is not linear. The rim-running, athletic combo forward needs to fill out his frame, which will be a concentration for him this year. Once that occurs and he improves his shooting, he has a chance to be a solid contributor to the Hornets. His game has clear holes in it, but he is a rookie – that should be the case – and James Borrego believes in Jalen and knows he is a project.
Kobi Simmons earned his way to signing one of the Hornets two-way contracts Sunday. He left a great last impression on the Hornets’ organization to show why he deserves to be a part of this team. During the Hornets’ preseason finale last Wednesday against the Detroit Pistons, James Borrego said he thought Kobi was a “big part” of the team’s comeback. Kobi finished the game with 12 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists.
Kobi’s play-style fits right into the culture and play-style James Borrego is trying to establish with this team. He likes running lineups with multiple playmakers, or point guards, on the floor that can defend multiple positions, attack the run, push the pace, play fast, and compete at a high level. Simmons does all of those things. When asked about Kobi’s play-style, Borrego said that he has “a gear to him that you don’t see on many rosters. He can get from end-to-end as quick as anybody.”
With an extended run with the Hornets’ rotation players last Wednesday, he proved that he fit right into the Hornets’ rotation and belonged on an NBA roster, fitting the scheme the Hornets want to play. Simmons understands what he can bring to this team. “I try to bring energy, the passion for the game I have, and just coming out with a chip on my shoulder. Go out there and bring energy and make a statement with everybody watching that I can be that guy coming off the bench to turn some things around and make some things shift in the game.”
Simmons can spend up to 45 days with the Hornets and will spend the rest of the season with the Swarm in Greensboro where he will further develop his game. If a scenario arises where one of the Hornets guards like Terry Rozier, Malik Monk, or Devonte’ Graham get hurt, Kobi will be called right up to help fill the gap.