With the All-Star game over, the NBA will turn its attention to Thursday's trade deadline. Last week Hornet's general manager Rich Cho made a deal with Flip Saunders and the Minnesota Timberwolves to acquire Mo Williams, Troy Daniels, and cash considerations for Gary Neal and Miami's 2019 unprotected second round pick. In a press conference announcing the deal, Cho was clear that the team would stay active up to the deadline:
There have been a few names floated recently in rumors that the front office might be considering.
The Suns All-NBA guard is owed $7.5 million this season and has a player option for the same amount next season which he will for sure exercise to become an unrestricted free agent. Rich Cho made Dragic an offer when he was a free agent, so the interest in his talent is real. The issue here is that Charlotte would be trading for a player who will become a free agent this summer. The benefit would be acquiring Dragic's Bird Rights, which basically means the team could go over the salary cap to resign him.
Although trading for Dragic might not make much sense financially, he would fit nicely for Charlotte in the short and long term. A true combo guard, Dragic would bring that secondary ball-handling dynamic the team has been chasing for some time (Gordon Hayward and Lance Stephenson for example). After a great season last year, his per game statistics this season might not blow you away (just 16 points and 4 assists per game), but he's an incredibly efficient scorer. Dragic shoots 55 percent on 2-point shots and 70 percent from 0-3 feet. In addition, according to the NBA's new Synergy statistics, he is in the 90th percentile (that's really good) for spot-up plays.
So what would it take for the Hornets to acquire Dragic? It would likely take a very attractive first round pick plus a matching salary. The ideal trade would be Lance Stephenson plus a protected pick. Another option would be replacing Stephenson with Marvin Williams. Neither may be enough for the Suns to pull the trigger.
Another year, another round of trade rumors connecting the Hornets to Afflalo (who is owed $7.5 million this year with a player option for the same next year). According to Clint Dempsey of the Denver Post, the conversations were real:
Teams don’t want to relinquish a first-rounder for a player that might walk on them at the end of the season. Afflalo has a player option for the final year of his contract. It is a snag that prevented Afflalo from being dealt to Charlotte, sources said.
This makes sense when compared to Cho's recent comments that the team is unwilling to sacrifice long term assets for short term gain. Contract considerations aside, Afflalo is great fit for Charlotte. He's a quality defender, a great spot-up shooter (top 11 in opportunities, 73rd percentile), and is shooting 50 percent from midrange.
Again this is a player who's contract situation isn't ideal for the Hornets, however he should come cheaper than Dragic. A package centered around Stephenson or Williams plus a second round pick may be enough for the Nuggets to bite, rather than lose Afflalo for nothing this summer.
Some other names
Nik Stauskas has reportedly been put on the trading block by the Sacramento Kings. Some Charlotte fans were hoping he would be available in last year's draft, but he was selected eighth (one spot before the Hornets took Noah Vonleh). In addition, the Kings have been including Jason Thompson in trade talks. The power forward is having a down year, but could be intriguing front court depth if the Hornets were looking to add more size. However he is under contract through 2016/17 at about $6 million per season, which is a little pricey considering his recent production.
The Utah Jazz big man Enes Kanter has reportedly demanded a trade. With his restricted free agency pending this summer, it might be a good time for the Jazz to move him. At just 22 years old and in his fourth year, Kanter is averaging career highs in points and rebounds (13.8 and 7.8 respectively). However, Rudy Gobert is emerging as a must-play option for the Jazz and there just aren't enough minutes to go around to please Kanter. A monster on the offensive glass (three per game) and a solid all-around offensive player, Kanter is an intriguing trade target for teams looking to control his free agency this summer. Unless the Hornets are lower on Cody Zeller or Noah Vonleh than it seems, it's unlikely they make a deal for the young big.
What's likely to happen
Looking at the names and considering the Hornets current assets, it seems unlikely Charlotte makes a deal before Thursday. What the team really needs right now is a third wing player to replace what Chris Douglas-Roberts accomplished last year (p.s. he's a free agent right now). With Jeffery Taylor getting big minutes recently, the coaching staff may see him as that player. However, with Lance Stephenson appearing in rumors weekly, the team may still be leaning towards trading him before the deadline.
If you were GM, how would you handle the next few days? Make your claim in the poll and in the comments.