Attempting to understand why the Charlotte Hornets traded the 22nd pick in the NBA draft to the Sacramento Kings for Marco Belinelli requires looking at it from different perspectives. The Hornets clearly weren't fans of this draft class, and if there were one or two prospects they were sold on, they wouldn't have dealt the pick before the draft started. If you felt low on this draft class as well, then you're probably okay with trading the pick away for a veteran. On the other hand, maybe you think trading for 30 year old veteran coming off the worst season of his career isn't good business. I can understand both arguments. Ultimately, acquiring Belinelli signals the Hornets aren't looking to put developing rookies into their rotation next season, but how big a role Belinelli has in that rotation is up in the air at this point.
Belinelli was drafted 18th overall by the Golden State Warriors in the 2007 draft after six years of playing professionally in Italy. He's played for six different teams since then, never sticking with one for more than a season or two. His best season was in 2014 while with the San Antonio Spurs, in which he averaged 11.4 points per game shooting 48.5 percent from the field, and an absurd 43 percent from the 3-point line. He started 25 games for San Antonio that season, while winning the 3-point shooting contest, and, of course, winning the NBA title. After two seasons with the Spurs, he signed a three-year contract with Sacramento. While averaging 10.2 points per game, Belinelli shot just 38.6 percent from the field, and only 30.6 percent from beyond the arc.
Coming off such a poor season, it's interesting that Charlotte had to give up a 1st round pick for him, though it's important to note that they had no 2nd round picks to offer for 2016. That likely played into why it was pick 22, and it's also likely that Charlotte didn't value the pick that highly either.
If the team is intent on keeping Belinelli, they're banking on him having a bounce back season. This certainly is possible, and if we're looking for a simple and optimistic take on it, Sactown Royalty's Tom Ziller has us covered:
Belinelli is actually fine on a decent team. The Kings stink, the Hornets are good. Works for both teams.— Tom Ziller (@teamziller) June 23, 2016
This was likely Charlotte's thinking in going through with the trade. Belinelli is a capable shooter with a career 3-point percentage of 37.9 percent, and before Sacramento he played important roles with both San Antonio and the Chicago Bulls. Steve Clifford can maximize the talents of role players, and his style of play fits right into how the Hornets operate.
On the other hand, one could argue against the team's disregard for drafting a rookie, regardless of the talent pool. While it's no secret the Hornets are in win-now mode, the intrigue of acquiring and developing a rookie is typically high regardless of the pick. Considering the inaugural season of the Greensboro Swarm is this fall, there would have been no better time to develop a rookie who isn't ready to be part of the rotation. However, depending on how you feel about the Hornets draft history, you could argue Belinelli is a safer play than betting on Charlotte's inconsistent draft history.
So again, so much of how you feel about this deal is probably based off your prior feelings about the Hornets' ability to draft, their trade history, and the general mindset of the team. While I would have liked to see the Hornets keep the pick, I do believe Belinelli will fit well in the rotation.
He does however, create a problem at shooting guard. It's highly unlikely the trio of Courtney Lee, Jeremy Lamb, or Marco Belinelli will all be on the roster come training camp. If Belinelli is staying, that means either Lee isn't getting re-signed, or Lamb is going to get dealt. Having all three would eat up too much cap space. Either way, Belinelli can be viewed as insurance. If Lee comes back, the Hornets will have a veteran combo of shooting guards. If Lee doesn't come back, Lamb could get one more shot to prove he belongs, and if he doesn't, the team has Belinelli.
So at this point, there's a lot of scenarios to consider, and whether this trade ends up working out or not will be determined by who the team signs/re-signs in free agency, and ultimately, whether Belinelli can become a productive player again.