Hornets must heed Plan B after McRoberts inks with Heat

The new Charlotte Hornets will have to rely heavily on their under-21 power-forward tandem of Cody Zeller and Noah Vonleh, in the wake of Josh McRoberts inking a deal with the Miami Heat on Monday.

Josh McRoberts, who signed a four-year deal with the Heat on Monday, tallied three double-doubles for the Bobcats (now Hornets) last season -- including his final playoff game with Charlotte in April.

Joshua S. Kelly / USA TODAY Sports

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- During this offseason, the Charlotte Hornets publicly stated their intentions to re-sign free agent forward Josh McRoberts.

By most accounts, it was a high priority.

Owner Michael Jordan and head coach Steve Clifford knew, in effect, just how valuable McRoberts was to an offense that struggled to score.

The club's worst fears came true on Monday, however, as McRoberts agreed to a four-year, $23 million contract with Miami -- the maximum the Heat could offer the 27-year-old with their mid-level exception.

Last season, McRoberts averaged 8.5 points, 4.8 rebounds and 4.3 assists last season. He also shot 36 percent from three-point range.

McRoberts' win shares -- an estimate of the number of victories contributed by a player and one stat that general managers use to help weight contract offers -- was 6.5, meaning was paid in the range of his estimated value ($5.5 to $7 million).

The ex-Bobcat's agent, Mike Conley, Sr., told The Charlotte Observer the Heat's offer was a little higher than what the Hornets offered. Even so, Conley said it wasn't easy an easy decision for McRoberts.

"He just labored over it because he so loves Clifford," Conley told The Observer.

In the first round of the playoffs, which ironically was against the Heat, McRoberts pumped in 11.5 points and grabbed 6.8 rebounds per game in four straight losses. He was also fined $20,000 for a hard hit on LeBron James during the series.

No less than a month ago, Jordan reiterated that signing McRoberts was a key factor. Now that he's gone, the Hornets, who are $15 million under the salary cap, will likely spend that money on a backup point guard, a wing player and/or another power forward.

Charlotte has spent each of its last two top-10 draft picks on big men -- Cody Zeller (2013) and Noah Vonleh (2014). Both players are very talented, and yet raw, by NBA standards.

For Miami, this seems to be working out perfectly for team president Pat Riley, whose team is one of three teams in the James' free-agent sweepstakes. Earlier in the day, the Heat also reportedly landed former All-Star forward Danny Granger -- formerly of the Pacers and Clippers -- to a two-year, $4.2 million deal.

The signing of the two solid players may be just enough to lure James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh back to Miami for the next couple of years.

In McRoberts, Miami gets a player that is stellar at ball movement and keeping the flow of the offense in motion. Oftentimes, he was used as a point forward for the Bobcats (now Hornets).

When the ball is in McRoberts' hands, he's very smart with it and rarely turns it over. McRoberts was second in the NBA to Chris Paul in assist-to-turnover ratio -- 4.01/1.

According to reports, James -- a four-time MVP and two-time NBA champion (2012 and 2013) -- was scheduled to meet with Riley sometime this week before making his decision.

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