Hornets Continue to Press Forward Upon Conclusion of Workout Bubble

by Sam Perley

The Charlotte Hornets’ two-week-long in-market workout bubble has come and gone, providing the players and coaches with invaluable hands-on time together after six months of separation.

In all likelihood, the team will now return to individual workouts until more structure and certainty for the 2020-21 NBA season is put into place. Still though, the workout bubble was greatly welcomed by the organization, mainly helping everyone involved to reconnect on a personal level and break up the last several months of monotony.

“When you don’t have any clarity, it’s tough to stay focused in general,” said Head Coach James Borrego at the start of the camp. “This bubble has given us something to look forward to, prepare and develop towards. This was a nice part of our schedule we could grow and build towards. Where this goes from here nobody knows. The biggest thing is that we’re ready to adapt and we do that through communicating between our players and our staff.”

Much of the time spent together has been getting everybody up to speed on old habits mixed with experimentation of different lineups, rotations, positions and skillsets.

“I think a big part of these two weeks has been evaluation for us,” Borrego said. “Looking at where guys are, working with different combinations of lineups, especially with the big guys and guards. Every day we’ve had different combinations on the floor. The four-on-four has been really good for us. You get a lot more touches and activity in a four-on-four setting.”

He added, “[We’ve been] looking at PJ [Washington] at some five, sliding Miles [Bridges] around the floor as well. Looking at different guard combinations – Malik [Monk’s] handled it a ton, Cody Martin’s handled it a ton. It’s been valuable for us to evaluate where our guys are and maybe some different lineups we can look at moving forward.”

Confined to a hotel when not practicing at Spectrum Center, much of the players’ free time was diverted to activates like ping pong, golf, tennis, watching the NBA playoffs and more. Borrego was adamant heading into the operation that the off-the-court interactions would be the most valuable component over this two-week period.

“It’s probably been the most enjoyable and meaningful part of this bubble,” he said. “Just being back together and seeing each other eye to eye, face to face, laughing, smiling, competing against one another. I couldn’t have envisioned a better setting for us right now. These guys love each other, they love being around one another. It’s about building our culture and this is a major part of building that culture and camaraderie that we need.”

Following the conclusion of the ongoing NBA Finals, the next step for the league will be negotiating and then establishing a salary cap – which is done every year at season’s end – for the 2020-21 NBA campaign. Player development will remain a primary focus for the Hornets organization moving forward as it continues its preparations for the NBA Draft on Nov. 18 and ensuing free agency period.

Charlotte holds a top-3 pick for the first time in eight years and has a multitude of different options to go with at the selection. President of Basketball Operations and General Manager Mitch Kupchak – who has done a masterful job thus far of utilizing the draft in his first two-plus years with the franchise – will also have the 32nd and 56th overall picks to utilize as well.

“Mitch and my relationship has really grown over the last couple years,” Borrego stated. “There’s a real trust, a real belief and with that, he wants my input into how we’re building this roster. Ultimately, it’s going to be up to him to make those decisions. It goes back to alignment. The more we understand who we are and what we’re trying to build, the better it is for us. We’re talking about the draft consistently, and we’re talking about free agency as well.”

The Hornets are on the right track with what they’re building and the culture being instilled. How long that track runs before reaching the 2020-21 NBA season is anybody’s guess at the moment, but they’ll be ready when the time indeed does come.

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