It has been yet another disappointing season for the Charlotte Hornets. After finishing four games over .500 in the 2021-2022 season, the team looked like it could be on the cusp of contending. But they took a huge step backwards last season and finished with the fourth worst record in the league. And this year may end up being even worse.
While all teams have ups and downs, the problems in Charlotte could run much deeper than injuries and lack of talent. After Terry Rozier was recently traded to the Miami Heat, he said that losing had become part of the culture.
Comparing Miami to Charlotte, Rozier said “It’s the total opposite. When you’re in Charlotte, you’re kind of used to losing. It’s kind of your DNA. … Over here, it’s the total opposite. No one wants to lose. No one is fine with it … It’s no secret. Everybody knows the difference between some organizations in the league.”
Rozier’s comments were underscored by something that happened when Charlotte played New York on Jan. 29. Late in the game with the home team Hornets trailing by 25, several players on the bench – including franchise player LaMelo Ball – could be seen laughing and fooling around. Head coach Steve Clifford did later defend his players, saying that “people should be very careful” about judging them, but this wasn’t a good look for the team.
Tides can turn quickly in the NBA, and with smart moves, it’s possible that the Hornets could vie for the playoffs next season. One thing strongly in their favor is that they are projected to have the fourth most cap space. There is a huge caveat, however: Free agents have to want to come to Charlotte. This means that over the next several months, the organization may have to go out of its way to prove that they are focused on creating a winning culture.