There are a dozen reasons the Hornets head coach Steve Clifford can give on why Michael Kidd-Gilchrist was awarded with a big contract extension. But in Clifford’s mind it all came down to one basic thought: “When he’s on the floor, we play well; when he’s not on the floor, we don’t.” The Charlotte Hornets are one of NBA’s bottom feeders and Pay per head sportsbook holds them at an underwhelming 350/1.
Last year with MGK in the starting lineup the Hornets were 62-55, without him they were 14-33. “As much as anybody that we have had in the two years I’ve been here, he’s been the guy that we can’t play well without for any long period of time,” Clifford said.
The terms of the deal are $52 million over 4 years with a player option in year 4. This person spoke on condition of anonymity because the team has not disclosed contract details publicly. MGK agreed to the deal on Monday and signed it on Wednesday.
During an emotional news conference, MGK accompanied by family friends and former shooting coach Mark Price expressed his sentiments on resigning. MGK said he chose to resign with Charlotte and not test free agency was because he wanted to continue playing with point guard Kemba Walker. He also feels he has found a home with the Hornets and does not want to disrupt any progress he’s already made.
“Why wait? I’m learning from the best,” Kidd-Gilchrist said, referring to playing for owner Michael Jordan, Clifford and assistant coach Patrick Ewing. “I don’t do this for the money.”
His calling card continues to be his defense, last season MGK posted a net differential of plus -10.8 points per 100 possessions. That translates to the highest point differential of a Hornets player. With MGK on the court they were a plus -3.1 without him they were a minus -7.7. He averaged 10.9 points to go along with 7.7 rebounds, and was the leader in that category for NBA small forwards.
“His motor is different,” Walker said. “The type of player he is, you have to have him on the court. We need him on the court every single night. When he’s out there, your chance of winning is definitely higher — definitely.”
Kidd-Gilchrist expressed last season that he wanted to become the best defensive player in the NBA — and he said that goal hasn’t changed.
“Aim for the stars, you’ll probably land on the moon,” Kidd-Gilchrist said. “I have confidence in myself.”