The massive four team, 12 player trade between the Timberwolves, Rockets, Nuggets, and Hawks provides a massive first domino to start the trade deadline wheeling and dealing. It isn’t shaping up to be an overly eventful deadline with few stars rumored to be on the move. The market is further dampened by a weak free agent class in 2020 that has few teams trying to maneuver to clear cap space for pending free agents.
With that in mind, there is still room for the Charlotte Hornets to be sellers before Thursday’s 3:00 pm deadline. Michael Kidd-Gilcrhist and Marvin Williams are the most likely candidates to be moved while Bismack Biyombo and Cody Zeller are possible yet less likely movers.
The most obvious dance partner for the Hornets right now is the Rockets. They’re reportedly looking for another player that can handle their switching defense and match up with bigs. Williams and Kidd-Gilchrist both fit that mold. Biyombo fits their need for a backup center that can provide some bulk when needed against some of the bigger teams in the West.
Marvin Williams is probably the Hornets best trade chip, as he would fit on just about any contender. His $15 million salary makes money-matching tough though. Teams like the 76ers and Bucks have all their large salaries devoted to core pieces that won’t be moved and don’t have large enough contracts to feasibly add up to match Williams’ money.
Williams could also make sense for the Clippers if they want to replace Mo Harkless with a similar player with more size and a more reliable outside shot. The Hornets might be able to take the Clippers late first this season if they can convince the Clippers that Williams provides a significant upgrade. Miami could be another landing spot for Williams in exchange for James Johnson. The salaries match, but the Heat would need to provide relatively significant compensation for receiving the better player and shaving a year off the money they would owe to Johnson. Unfortunately they can’t trade their first round pick, which makes finding that compensation a little trickier.
The Mavericks had reported interest in Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. It stands to reason that they could be interested in Williams as well. They have the Warriors second round pick (currently 31st overall) to play with along with Courtney Lee’s expiring deal. The Suns might be convinced that Kidd-Gilchrist or Williams’ defensive prowess at the forward spot is what they need to push them into the playoffs, but they don’t have any draft assets unless they can be convinced to give up a first round pick.
None of these potential trades are going to blow anyone away or significantly alter the course of the Hornets future, and that’s okay. Incremental improvements in asset accumulation is never a bad thing.
The Hornets shouldn’t target any of the players they’ve been linked with in the past week. Any salary they take on beyond this season should come with a useful future asset attached. Otherwise they can use their roughly $30 million in cap space this summer to absorb players without sending salary out. Acquiring win-now players like Andre Drummond and Bogdan Bogdanovic, who are on expiring deals no less, makes little sense given how far away this team is from competing.
On top of that, Mitch Kupchak is regarded as one of the most conservative general mangers in the league. He didn’t make a deal last deadline, even with the Hornets making a playoff push. There’s a very real possibility he does that again this season as the Hornets wait for their big money contracts to fall off the books.