The Charlotte Hornets are once again entering NBA Draft night without a major focus on the draft itself. Per Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical, the Hornets are looking to trade their pick along with Jeremy Lamb and/or Spencer Hawes to create cap space to help sign free agents.
Sources: Charlotte's offering No. 22 - if team will take contract of Spencer Hawes or Jeremy Lamb. Hornets need space to re-sign free agents— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojVerticalNBA) June 23, 2016
As the offseason approaches, many key players from last year's playoff run such as Jeremy Lin, Marvin Williams, Courtney Lee, and of course Nicolas Batum will all be free agents. All players had great years with the Hornets and will surely earn some good money in a summer that's expected to be very spend heavy for free agents.
For the last few years the Hornets have explored trading their pick, and when they haven't been able to they chose to either go with the highest potential player available (Noah Vonleh) or the most NBA ready option (Frank Kaminsky) when their pick came up. The results have been mixed with Vonleh being traded after his rookie year and still struggling to show much promise in Portland, and Kaminsky looking like a solid albeit flawed role player.
However, this situation isn't entirely the same as the last couple years. This year, the Hornets finished with their best record since the franchise's return in 2004, and with so many players on the current roster about to become free agents it makes sense to make moves in an effort to try and keep those players around. This trade is likely not Charlotte once again choosing to punt on the draft, but rather using the draft as a means to move players they're not thrilled with to return key guys.
Both Jeremy Lamb and Spencer Hawes had okay years last year, but Hawes is a limited big man that spent many games last year playing behind a rookie Kaminsky. Lamb is a player that might get moved just because of how disappointing he was. The Hornets were very quick to give him a contract extension, and early in the year it seemed like that move was going to pay off, but a regression to the mean led to Lamb falling completely out of the rotation and being nothing but a garbage time player once the playoffs rolled around. It's still a mystery as to why the Hornets gave him a contract so quickly after acquiring him.