P.J. Washington feels like a player on the cusp of a breakout season. If it happens, the Charlotte Hornets just got a steal.
Washington, a restricted free agent and arguably the best free agent on the market, has agreed to a three-year, $48 million contract to remain with the Hornets, a story broken by Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (and since confirmed by multiple others).
Much like Austin Reaves of the Lakers, Washington lost money because of restricted free agency. Washington very likely would have drawn a larger contract on the open market, but other teams knew the Hornets would match any offer — and nobody wanted to tie up their available cap space for days in a fast-moving market while the Hornets waited to officially announce their match — so no other offers came in. By the time the market slowed down, nobody had the cap space left to make Washington the kind of offer he wanted. That left him negotiating with just the Hornets.
Washington averaged a career-high 15.7 points per game last season, and is an in-demand stretch four who can defend in the paint on one end and then space the floor on the other (his 3-point shooting dipped to 34.8% last season, but he will be better than that again next season). On a reloaded Hornets roster with a healthy LaMelo Ball, No. 2 draft pick from June Brandon Miller, and the return of Miles Bridges (who led the team in scoring two years ago but missed last season following him pleading no contest to domestic violence) Washington could be well positioned to make a leap.
However things shake out in Charlotte, it just got a quality player back on a team-friendly contract.