Hello, and welcome. As you all have read in the news by now, I have taken the reigns as the general manager of the Charlotte Hornets, effective immediately. Former GM Mitch Kupchak has decided that I am best suited for the role, and also that he would like to spend more time golfing. For that, we thank him. Let’s get down to business.
The following text is a beginner’s guide to the 2020 offseason in Charlotte. Since I am the bearer of all basketball knowledge, the exact, correct plan for what the Hornets need to do to deem this offseason a “success” will be laid out in detail. Any questions? No? Good. What’s up next for a Delete Eight team like us? Oh, right...
We all know by now that the Hornets have solid draft capital and it’s important that they use it wisely. Currently, there aren’t many draft rumors flying around, but the latest/biggest piece of intel is that the Timberwolves are leaning towards selecting LaMelo Ball with the No. 1 overall pick (a trade is still on the table, too). For months, it’s been public knowledge that the Warriors are unlikely to draft a center with the second pick. Combine that with the recent rumors that Anthony Edwards’ draft stock is falling among NBA scouts, and there’s plenty of reason to believe that the Hornets have a chance to select Edwards at three. This implies the Warriors getting spicy and selecting Deni Avdija, Isaac Okoro, Tyrese Haliburton, etc., at two instead of Edwards/Ball/Wiseman, which isn’t really something you can predict yet, one way or another — but there’s a chance. All I need is a chance, and you can bet your bottom dollar I’m gonna take it when it’s there.
TLDR; Welcome to Charlotte, Anthony Edwards. If you need restaurant recommendations, my email is linked in my profile.
The 32nd pick is not as easy to nail down, since there are 31 picks to be made prior to it, rather than two. This time, I’ll put down a pool of players that are more-likely-than-not to be there, but I’ll do two for each position group since there are no guarantees:
Guards: Grant Riller, Theo Maledon
Wings: Isaiah Joe, Robert Woodard II
Bigs: Killian Tillie, Paul Reed
Riller would add a ball-dominant scoring punch as a backup lead guard, while Maledon would be a solid two-way guard that can command an offense. Joe, as I wrote about extensively in my latest scouting report, is one of the best shooters in the draft and has potential to be a two-way threat if he adds strength, and Woodard II is a solid two-way player with prototypical size and floor-spacing potential. Tillie is going to be overlooked in this draft because of his injury history (38 missed games in four seasons at Gonzaga), but if he stays healthy, he might be the best big man in this draft due to his 3-point shooting, passing and instincts on both ends of the floor. Reed is a position-less big that could develop into a floor-spacer/ball-handler and will be a team defender right off the bat.
TLDR; any one of those guys would be a good pick, even with Edwards coming in. The Hornets are a bad team, and until I’m proven otherwise, drafting for need/position is not even in the realm of possibilities. Just draft good players.
Same deal as the 32nd pick; I’ll list a pair of players at each position group that are more-likely-than-not to be available at 56. Don’t put a ton of stock into this because 56 is a crapshoot:
Guards: Yam Madar, Payton Pritchard
Wings: Ty-Shon Alexander, Jay Scrubb
Bigs: Nick Richards, Marko Simonović
Madar is a FIBA teammate of fellow Israeli Deni Avdija that excels on the defensive end, and Pritchard would give the early-to-mid-2010s Hornets front offices hot flashes; an All-American senior point guard that has a smooth jumper. Alexander isn’t getting enough buzz as one of the best/most versatile perimeter defenders in the draft, and Scrubb’s less-common JUCO path has him flying under the radar despite being a really athletic finisher. Richards, again, would get the Hornets of old all hot and bothered, but would be a much-needed paint defender and rebounder. Simonović is a mobile, skilled 6’ 11” floor-spacer that could be an interesting defender if he fills out his frame.
TLDR; it’s the 56th pick, might as take a shot. Take whoever might have a chance to make people say “Wow, I can’t believe he lasted until 56!” and then don’t worry about what happens if he ends up making people understand exactly why he lasted until 56.
First thing’s first; saying goodbye to our current unsigned players. Bismack Biyombo and Willy Hernangomez were both valued during their tenure in Charlotte, but it’s time to move on. Sadly, the same goes for my buddy Dwayne Bacon, who has said multiple times since the regular season ended that he feels a change of scenery would be best for him.
We’ve got a boat load of money to spend this offseason, but I’ll be damned if it’s ME that hands out a long-term contract to Montrezl Harrell. It just won’t be me. If I’m in charge, we’re hunting for low-risk, high-reward, young-ish guys that have been spurned by their former team. After letting go of Biz, Bake, and Willy and drafting three players, the roster currently stands at 13 players — so, two more free-agent signings, and a pair of Two-Way contracts. Not much work to do here.
Since this is a fantasy land and I make the rules, we’re going to pretend that no other team(s) reached out to Harry Giles, and the Grizzlies decided not to match an offer for De’Anthony Melton. Giles is a hybrid forward/center that can facilitate from the elbows, rebound and maybe become a shooter some day (43.9 percent on catch-and-shoot 2-point shots in 2019-2020). His career has been marred by injuries since being the No. 1 ranked player in the 2016 high school class, but if he can stay healthy, that potential can still be unearthed. Melton has a ton of potential as a two-way combo guard that can really pass the ball (career 21.1 assist percentage), and if his 3-point shooting picks up, he’s going to be an excellent role-player. Both of these guys are young, relatively inexpensive, and bursting with potential; the exact type of players we want to bring in.
As for the Two-Way contracts, the specific player that is signed doesn’t matter all that much to me. Pretty much any undrafted free agent will do. I’m not going to bother naming names... but if I had to, players like Markus Howard, Myles Powell, Kaleb Wesson or Kenyon Martin Jr. would be nice additions to the Greensboro Swarm.
There’s only one trade that needs to be made; dumping Batum’s expiring salary in exchange for another overpaid player with draft picks attached. Philadelphia is a team that immediately comes to mind, but taking on Al Horford or Tobias Harris is honestly a bit too much money, unless they’re also forking over Matisse Thybulle, Shake Milton and 2021/2022 first-round picks, which is doubtful. Maybe Orlando would trade Al-Farouq Aminu and the two years, $19M remaining on his deal for one season of Batum at $25M? They could make a run at Fred VanVleet if they feel so inclined, and it frees up minutes for Mo Bamba and Chuma Okeke. I’d be glad to help out our old pal Steve Clifford with that. Batum and Charlotte’s 2021 second-round pick via Brooklyn for Aminu and a lottery-protected 2021 first-rounder? Don’t mind if I do.
A trade block is being established because Cody Zeller and/or Terry Rozier should absolutely be dealt the instant a team makes an offer that benefits the Hornets, but they aren’t players I’m actively shopping. Zeller’s contract expires at the end of next season, and he’s a top-tier “glue guy” that any playoff team would be happy to have on the bench. When it comes to Rozier, a salary dump trade (except for Al Horford) would be fine if the Hornets get first-round picks/young players back. I’d be okay having Zeller play out the final year of his contract in Charlotte and having Rozier on an expiring deal in 2021-2022, though.
After the draft and free agency, here’s what we’ve got:
Starting lineup: Devonte’ Graham/Anthony Edwards/Miles Bridges/PJ Washington/Cody Zeller
Bench: Terry Rozier, Malik Monk, De’Anthony Melton, Harry Giles, Cody Martin, Jalen McDaniels, Caleb Martin, Al-Farouq Aminu, pick 32, pick 56, two Two-Way players
Well, I’ll be damned; a talented, young squad that isn’t quite ready to succeed just yet. Exactly what we want. Rozier, Zeller and Aminu are seasoned enough to add a “veteran presence” to the locker room, while Devonte’, PJ and Edwards can settle in as the team’s “three pillars.” The bench has at least three ball-handlers in Melton, Monk, and Cody Martin, Caleb Martin and Rozier as off-ball guards for spot-up shooting, McDaniels as the wing/forward and then Aminu and Giles as the bigs. And that doesn’t even include the two second-round picks. Lots to work with here.
Much like last year, this team is gonna scrap their way to some wins that they probably shouldn’t have, but unlike last year, they won’t come through in the clutch as often. Playing hard, developing young guys, showing off vets for playoff teams, and still ending up in the top-eight of next year’s draft again is the best possible scenario for the Hornets this offseason. It’d be a real shame if everything that I just wrote down happened in real life. A real shame.