The Charlotte Hornets won their final game before the holiday break, giving fans the smallest of presents. The win doesn’t erase what’s been an overall dismal season, however. At 12-21, the Hornets look no where close to competing for a playoff spot.
With the season toiling in the doldrums of the NBA, I asked the At The Hive staff if they had one “wish” for the remainder of the season, what would it be and why? What started as one writer’s simple wish turned into an interesting conversation over how best to rebuild the Hornets should a rebuild be the wish granted. As you’ll see, opinions are split over the best course of action. Conversation shifts between how the Hornets could rebuild, pipe dreams of Anthony Davis, thoughts on Dwight Howard’s fit, and a simple wish for Michael Carter-Williams to discover his muse.
Note: Portions have been slightly altered for clarity.
Nick Denning: In light of the holiday season, what is one wish or 'gift' you have for the Hornets the rest of the season?
Dylan Jackson: The one gift I would like is for the Hornets to blow it up. They aren’t going anywhere fast. If the goal is to win a championship, it’s hard to see them doing much with any of our current players. As much as I love Kemba Walker, the team would benefit if they traded him for a young asset. And with a draft class that is so top heavy, now is the right time to blow it up.
Jonathan DeLong: I know we're just sharing our individual wishes, but I could not disagree with that take more Dylan. Tanking gives hope for future Championship runs, but that's never actually been the case for anybody.
The most likely scenario if we blow it up is we take three to four years to build ourselves back up to this exact position we're in now. Then what?
Nick: Okay, so if not a complete overhaul, would a soft rebuild be an option? Especially if Kemba decides to stick around?
Jonathan: I think it would be. In my mind, acquiring All Stars is very hard. Getting rid of one for picks is setting yourself back tremendously. I say this to people in the comments a lot, but every draft pick they acquire for a player like Kemba is going to be from someone that's trying to compete. That means the picks will likely be in the twenties. The odds of them actually Landing a player of Kemba's caliber with the picks we get for him are slim.
I think they are better off trying to reshuffle. They have the tools at their disposal to acquire a disgruntled star like Jimmy Butler or Paul George if they come available again. Look at the meager returns those guys got. Which is also another reason why I don't think trading Kemba would be worth it.
David Walker: I agree, I think they’re better off packaging an MKG, Frank, Marvin; basically anyone outside of Kemba to unload some of those deals and try to get back assets in the form of young players and draft picks. But nothing the Hornets have is going to net lottery picks in my opinion, so you’re still looking at first rounders hopefully, which is fine, but they have to start acquiring assets again to work the rebuild that way. I’m against tanking in general anyway for a lot of reasons but just given where the team is, their actual location, Charlotte, a team in tank mode would be so irrelevant so fast around here it would do some pretty bad damage.
Nick: And one thing we have to keep in mind is that this team wants to remain relevant. I think they need to reshuffle, but who gets moved? Curious who you all think is most likely.
Stephen Sears: Nicolas Batum and Marvin Williams if possible (two bad contracts). Would clear up a lot of space.
Nick: They seem the most likely. Could see Michael Kill-Gilchrist as well.
David: And of those I think Marv might be the most attractive. Great veteran locker room presence, would be a nice add for a team looking for that and ability to hit a three here and there. But man it would be nice to land one of these once in a generation one-and-done’s at some point.
Nick: Oh for sure. Look what Newton did for the Panthers. But it's so much easier to rebuild in other sports.
Anyways, anyone else want to weigh in? Or, have another wish for the rest of the season?
Jonathan: My wish for the rest of the season is that the team remembers how to shoot a basketball.
Nick: I think we can all agree on that.
Stephen: My Christmas wish is for the front office to successfully trade away at least two of their big contract guys (Marv, Batum, MKG) in hopes of clearing up space to make big moves in the offseason.
Nick: Stephen, would you be okay with a minimal return as long as it cleared salary?
Josh Priemski: I am not Stephen, but yes.
Nick: It’s reasonable to think this season is pretty much over. Let's say the Hornets move a couple big salaries but get a poor return. That said, they end up with a high draft pick and money to spend this summer. Is that consolation for ya'll?
I guess it is for you, Josh.
Stephen: Yeah I’ll take minimal return.
Josh: You can snag youngsters with high upside (but glaring holes) for pennies these days. Gimme the empty roster, cash, and a pick.
Nick: I will give Cho this, he can find diamonds in the rough.
Jason Fletcher: It just seems like they are constantly rebuilding. Their first-round picks always turn into role/bench guys. Never gonna get any better unless they draft better.
Nick: That's true, Jason. And I feel less confident in the front office to draft correctly.
Josh: Had they gotten the first overall pick instead of MKG I’m not sure we have this discussion, to be honest.
Jonathan: I agree with that Josh.
Nick: Fair point, Josh.
Jonathan: It's not like they’ve taken isolated busts within strings of stars. They always seem just outside the elite talent when they’re in the lottery. They just haven't struck gold with a Kawhi Leonard or Klay Thompson.
Stephen: Well. The New Orleans Pelicans are exploring.
Nick: Oh my gosh, don’t tease me Stephen.
Josh: They can have any combo of pieces that exclude Kemba.
Stephen: Sheesh, if they could piece together Kemba and Anthony Davis I would probably cry.
Nick: Here we are, dreaming about Anthony Davis, as if New Orleans wants any of the pieces we'd offer. But hey, crazier things have happened, and as Jonathan pointed out earlier, stars are going for chump change right now.
Zachary Junda: Can confirm about that New Orleans bit. [Editor’s Note: Zach writes for the Pelicans SB Nation blog, The Bird Writes]
Nick: As in, they are listening about offers for Davis?
Zachary: No, the as if they’d want any pieces of Charlotte’s. Maybe they’d do business with Trader Cho but no way Davis is mentioned. I feel like they’d want Batum or Marvin if either were available.
Josh: For what it’s worth, I’m not ready to call the season. Still have like 50 games—they go 30-20 and we could sneak into the playoffs.
Jason: I just don't think the Hornets that good. As good as Dwight's been, I think forcing the ball into him just gets everyone else out of sync. The ball never comes back out.
Josh: That’s why I’m so against him. I was willing to give it a go but it ended up being what i feared it might be. That, and the 3-7 possessions he gives away with turnovers and fouls dumb ones to boot.
Jason: Exactly, Josh. I give them credit for taking a shot on the best "star" they could get on the market but it's not working. Get what you can for him and move on.
Nick: I get the criticisms, but I'd still take him over Miles Plumlee.
Jonathan: I think their biggest Dwight Howard problem has nothing to do with him personally. It'd that they want to be an inside offense through post play. There are way too many possessions that are wasted away trying to find an angle to feed the post.
Nick: Yeah, that's a good point. I wish they'd try different options other than constantly look to feed the post. There are other ways to keep him involved enough.
Jason: In this day and age of the NBA, you can't play that way without being a top-notch defensive team. You have to be able to shoot from the perimeter. Feeding the ball into Dwight all night just isn't a recipe for success.
Nick: And the Hornets are not a top defensive team. Maybe Clifford expected they would be.
Anyways, any last minute quick wishes anyone want to add? Can be big, small, etc.
Josh: I wish for Michael Carter-Williams to discover he’s actually an artist and to move to Prague.
Evan Dyal: I wish for Treveon Graham to get anything he wants aka more minutes.
Nick: Totally on board with both of these.
Jason: I wish for Batum to return to the way he played the past couple seasons. Gotta believe he's not 100 percent with the elbow.
And that wraps it up. Share your thoughts and any holiday wishes you have for the team below.