Three days into free agency, the Charlotte Hornets finally made their first move.
Restricted free agent Cody Martin has agreed to terms on a four-year, $32 million deal, sources with direct knowledge of the situation told The Charlotte Observer on Saturday. Bringing Martin back was among the team’s top priorities, and the Hornets had the ability to match any offer he might have received on the open market.
Martin, 26, is one of their best defenders and was typically the first player summoned off the bench, showing growth in his third season. He appeared in 71 games, starting in 11, and averaged 7.7 points and four rebounds per game. He should be a valuable piece for new Hornets coach Steve Clifford.
Both sides had mutual interest from the get-go. Martin, a native of Mocksville, N.C., felt a bit of loyalty to the franchise that selected him in the second round in 2019. He developed into a solid contributor and even surprisingly led the NBA in 3-point field-goal percentage early on in the season. He tailed off following a bout with a non-COVID illness before actually getting sick from COVID-19 and also dealt with other ailments.
But the staff never lost faith in him due to his work ethic and lunch-pail mentality.
“I love Charlotte,” Martin said during the team’s exit interviews in April. “Obviously, they gave me a chance — me and my brother (Caleb) a chance — and I’m from right down the street. And I love being here. I love the city, I love the fans. I love the organization, I love my teammates.”
Locking Martin up represented the third move of the day for the Hornets. They signed last week’s draft picks — Mark Williams and Bryce McGowens — to multi-year deals in advance of beginning their four-day summer league minicamp on Saturday.
McGowens signed a two-way contract, meaning he will split time between Charlotte and playing for the franchise’s G League affiliate Greensboro Swarm.
Prior to Saturday’s activity, things had been quiet for the Hornets in free agency. They had to readjust and be partially in fact-gathering mode after Miles Bridges, the player who was expected to be their focal point of the offseason, got arrested in Los Angeles for felony domestic violence.
There are three ways things can go with Bridges, and no matter the direction it will have a significant impact on the Hornets moving forward in what was supposed to be one of the most important offseasons in recent memory.