As Hornets 2020-21 season gets underway, team makes moves to ensure future with 2 young players

By Richard Walker

Miles Bridges during a recent Charlotte Hornets practice session. [Hornets.com photo]
The Charlotte Hornets begin their 2020-21 NBA season Wednesday night at the Cleveland Cavaliers.

But the night before – and one week before the deadline to do so – team president of basketball operations and general manager Mitch Kupchak moved toward solidifying their future by picking up contract options for two of their promising young players for next season.

The Hornets picked up the third-year option for P.J. Washington for $4.21 million and the fourth-year option for Miles Bridges for $5.42 million. The team had until Dec. 29 to make those contract decisions.

“I just feel like it shows how much confidence they have in us as a young group,” Bridges said on a Wednesday morning zoom news conference following a shootaround practice session. “I was happy to get that news yesterday.”

Bridges was a full-time starter last season while averaging 13.0 points and 5.6 rebounds in 65 games (64 starts). He’s averaged 9.9 points and 4.7 rebounds in 145 career games (89 starts) and is currently projected to one of Charlotte’s top players off the bench this season.

“It doesn’t faze me to come of the bench,” Bridges said. “It’s good coming off the bench with (rookie) LaMelo (Ball), the twins (Caleb Martin and Cody Martin), Malik (Monk) and Bismack (Biyombo). I just want to get better and do whatever it takes for the team to win.”

In that reserve role in the recently-completed four-game preseason, Bridges averaged 10.8 points and 7.8 rebounds while converting 19 of 31 field goals attempts.

Washington averaged 12.2 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.1 assists in 58 games (57 starts) last season as a rookie.

This year, Hornets coach James Borrego is hopeful of making Washington a center at times in the team’s “small ball” lineup. In the four preseason games, Washington started each game and averaged 7.8 points, 4.8 rebounds and 3.2 assists.