Free agency was fun and intense for a majority of the guys in the pool because as always, money was insanely thrown around. Sadly for Charlotte Hornets stretch forward PJ Washington, though, that “majority” doesn’t include him – at least for now.
The signing period started one month ago, and Washington is still waiting for someone to call. At this point, it might be safe to say that he’s anticipating nothing.
Washington is at the tail-end of his rookie contract, so he’s a restricted free agent, which means the Charlotte can match other offers for him. The Hornets have already sent a qualifying offer worth $8.5 million for the 2023-24 season. It’s not a sexy offer by any means, but it’s all he’s got.
It’s a tough pill to swallow for the 24-year-old since he showed a good deal this past season. In an injury-plagued year for the team, he was productive as expected, averaging a career-best 15.4 points while also adding 1.1 blocks, and 2.0 threes per game. There’s a lot to like, too, as he is a smooth-moving, long-armed, 6’7 forward that can score in the paint, midrange, and beyond the arc.
But, it is what it is. The lone option now is to accept the deal on the table, continue to ball out, and make his services more marketable for the 2024 off-season, where he’ll have more freedom as he’ll be an unrestricted FA by then.
A lot is on the line, and one wrong turn can truly jeopardize his career. However, if he truly believe in his abilities, he should be pumped to puff his chest out and prove his play even further. He’s not only being more comfortable in his game, he’s also he’s playing alongside an All-Star point guard in LaMelo Ball, who’s always eager to distribute the touches.
Why doesn’t Charlotte value his services?
Aside from having the upper hand in basic FA rules, they quickly learned that they’re not really competing with anyone, so why balloon the offer?
Then, there’s the new and old blood coming in, all of which can disrupt Washington’s rise and land him back to earth – if he was indeed just playing well because of the multitude of absences.
First, there’s embattled forward Miles Bridges coming back after a publicized domestic case sidelined him for the rest of 2022-23. He, too, will be playing for a lot as he hopes to get his stock up again and earn back that $100-plus million contract that he lost last year. Bridges averaged 20.2 points and 7.0 boards on 49.1% shooting in 2021-22, so him possibly producing as such in his return pushes Washington back a little bit.
Second is the team’s 2023 second overall pick Brandon Miller. The University of Alabama has good length and is being projected as a two-way forward that can defend the perimeter while being able to score inside and out, a la All-Star Paul George.
Those two are very considerable obstacles. One already has a good-scoring season under his belt, while the other is a youngster simply overflowing with potential.
Whatever happens, we’ll likely see what Paul Jamine “PJ” Washington Jr.’s NBA career could really be in this coming season. His 2023-24 campaign may very well signify if he has more upside to show, or he’ll just be that journeyman role player who has his share of spurts every now and then.