Will Mitch Kupchak trade away the Hornets’ veterans with expiring contracts, or will he ride out the season with the roster that he has now? That is the question.
In a season where teams are not concerned about acquiring expiring contracts to clear cap space for the upcoming summer, it’s entirely plausible that Kupchak stands pat at the trade deadline and lets the older players choose their next destination in free-agency. The roster the Hornets have right now seems more than capable of landing the franchise a good draft pick after they’ve come tumbling back down to Earth amid a 2-13 stretch. There’s no doubt Mitch is working the phones, but that doesn’t mean a move is imminent.
Regardless, that won’t stop us Hornets fans from concocting absurd trade proposals. I don’t know about anyone else, but the trade machine websites are among my most-visited as of late. Here are some of the spicy meatballs that I’ve cooked up:
Marvin Williams and Willy Hernangomez to LAC, Maurice Harkless, Jerome Robinson, and DET’s 2021 2nd round pick to CHA
Marvin gets to go to a contender, and Willy gets a chance to show out on a good team in a contract year while giving the Clippers some size. The Hornets recoup two “assets” in Detroit’s 2021 second-rounder (2021 is a MUCH deeper draft than 2020) and a struggling former lottery pick in Jerome Robinson, a guard out of Boston College. Robinson was a scorer in college, but that has yet to translate to the NBA. He’s averaging 3.3 points in 11.8 minutes per game with 35.5/30.5/58.8 shooting splits. Per 36 minutes, he’s averaging 9.9 points on 10.5 field goal attempts. In short; not good. Still, it’s worth taking a flyer on as the Hornets need all the guard/wing prospects they can get. Outside of Devonte’ Graham and Terry Rozier, the cupboard is bare. Harkless comes in on an expiring contract, and he offers some defensive versatility that could make it easier to stomach the Hornets on that end of the floor.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist to NOP, E’Twaun Moore to CHA
Kidd-Gilchrist gets his long-awaited change of scenery, and the Pelicans get to clear out minutes for their younger guards and JJ Redick. The Hornets get a wing shooter that probably wouldn’t play all that much. Both contracts are expiring, both guys probably won’t be playing for their respective teams next year. New Orleans might not be begging to give up Moore, who is shooting 39.2% from beyond the arc on 3.8 attempts per game, but they could use some insurance in case Zion Williamson doesn’t make it through the end of the year without being shelved for a knee injury.
Malik Monk and Willy Hernangomez to IND, Goga Bitadze and Edmond Sumner to CHA
This might trigger some folks, but that’s okay. Monk is the Hornets’ most polarizing player; plenty of people love his game and want him make that leap into a marquee player in Charlotte. Others, are frustrated with his brutal inconsistency and lack of a three-point shot that was supposed to be his best skill coming out of Kentucky. Count me as part of the latter. The Hornets are building around Graham and Rozier at the moment, leaving no room for Monk to become anything more than a bench piece. The Hornets also have no prospects at the center position — enter Goga Bitadze. He gets out of the Pacers’ self-created logjam at center, and Monk gets an opportunity to fill it up in Victor Oladipo’s absence, and as his backup when he returns from injury. Hernangomez and Sumner work as salary swaps and each fit into the end of their new team’s respective rotation.
Bismack Biyombo to DAL, Courtney Lee and DAL’s 2022 2nd round pick to CHA
For some reason, this one seems pretty likely. The Mavericks don’t have a paint defender, besides Kristaps Porzingis, now that Dwight Powell is out for the season with a torn Achilles. Lee has only appeared in two games in 2020, scoring a grand total of zero points. Trading Biyombo for Lee essentially opens up a rotation spot for one of the Hornets’ younger players — Cody Martin, Jalen McDaniels, Dwayne Bacon, Ray Spalding, anybody, really. For development’s sake, the Hornets could fully-pivot to the youth movement come trade season. Nothing bad comes of this; Biz goes to a good team that’ll give him some minutes, Lee lives in a nicer city while his contract expires and he rides the bench, young players get more playing time, and that 2022 pick could come in handy since 2022 is the “double-draft” where the age restriction is lowered from 19 to 18. It’s essentially two draft classes in one, because high school seniors will be allowed to declare (fine with me, let the kids get paid). Dallas will probably still be good then, so it’s likely to fall between 50 and 60. Not a ton of value, but value nonetheless.
Marvin Williams, Caleb Martin, BOS’s 2020 2nd round pick to BOS, Carsen Edwards, Semi Ojeleye, NYK’s/BKN’s 2021 2nd round pick to CHA
Before you get mad at me, THIS TRADE DOES NOT WORK. The salaries don’t even come close to matching since Boston is completely capped-out and lacks the mid-level contracts to send back to Charlotte. Regardless, there isn’t a more-beneficial trade (for both sides) than this one. The Hornets get a young point guard to back up Graham and Rozier in Edwards, who has struggled mightly in a limited role in Boston. When he gets sent to Maine to play for the Red Claws, he’s better. The Hornets need a backup point guard and he has the tools to fit in the NBA. Ojeleye is a good defender for a role player, and his contract comes off the books this summer if the Hornets don’t like what they see. Boston gets a low-usage shooting big man off the bench, the one thing they need to make a championship push. The Hornets’ give Boston their second-round pick back in exchange for the less-favorable of New York’s and Brooklyn’s pick that will likely be higher in the second round in 2021 than Boston’s in 2020. Everyone is happy. If only it were possible.
I tried to look for a deal that offloads each expiring contract/non-long-term Hornet. Surely, everyone that frequents At the Hive has an idea for a trade or four in mind that they’d like to hash out; my friends, this is what the comment section was invented for. Sound off.