December 15th has come and gone. You know what that means- it’s the beginning of NBA trade season. That date is the first date in which newly signed free agents can be traded. We’ve already seen the first deal of trade season, with the Phoenix Suns sending Trevor Ariza to the Washington Wizards in exchange for Austin Rivers and Kelly Oubre. That deal rose out of the ashes out of what was one of the weirdest failed trades these eyes have ever seen.
Now that the seal has broken, the Charlotte Hornets may look to make a move. The team has been hovering around .500 all season, and new General Manager Mitch Kupchak isn’t one to shy away from a roster shakeup. Here are a few candidates that he could be eyeing.
Robin Lopez, Chicago Bulls
Likely cost - Bismack Biyombo plus 2nd round picks.
There are two benefits to this deal. One, the Hornets get out of the final year and $17 million of Biyombo’s contract. Two, Robin Lopez is a better player. He hasn’t been particularly good in recent seasons, but he does bring a toughness on the interior that the Hornets have been lacking.
The Bulls have little use for Lopez in their current iteration. They’re 7-23 and in asset collection mode. The extra $17 million on the Bulls cap shouldn’t mean much to them next season as they look to continue their rebuild. A few second round picks and/or Dwayne Bacon might be enough for them to pull the trigger.
Kevin Love, Cleveland Cavaliers
Likely cost- Marvin Williams or Michael Kidd-Gilchrist plus Malik Monk plus 1st round pick (other filler required to make money work, deal can’t be completed until January 24th)
This would be a swing-for-the-fences type move that Kupchak became known for during his time with the Lakers. Love would immediately become the second banana the Hornets have been looking for to go with Kemba Walker. The deal obviously comes with some risk, as the five time All Star is 30 years old and has missed at least 20 games in three straight seasons and is currently sidelined with a toe injury.
That added risk may lower the cost of the oft injured big man. The Cavaliers are again in the NBA’s cellar after LeBron James fled town. Having Kevin Love on their roster does them no good. It may take more to get this deal done (like Jeremy Lamb), but the Hornets could go in with a low offer and hope the Cavs bite.
Derrick Favors, Utah Jazz
Likely cost- Marvin Williams plus Willy Hernangomez plus Malik Monk and/or picks (deal can’t be completed until January 15th)
The Jazz are rumored to be in the mix for Jabari Parker, which would make little sense if they also intended to keep Favors. The 27-year-old has been miscast as a 4/5 hybrid with Rudy Gobert manning the middle, and the two make for an awkward fit on the court together in today’s NBA. Again, the cost given here is probably on the low side, but it’s a starting point.
Favors would make a perfect one-two punch at the center spot with Cody Zeller. He has good touch around the basket and is a solid defender and rebounder. Also, the final year on his deal is non-guaranteed, meaning the Hornets could clear his $16 million from the books should they choose to do that.