The Charlotte Hornets are picking late in the lottery once again. After one blissful year of jumping into the top three, they find themselves at pick #11 this year. In the last 14 years, this year included, they have held 10 picks ranging from eight to 12.
There isn’t an easy way to track it, but that has to be some sort of record.
Out of those picks, this will be the third time the Hornets have picked 11th overall. The last two selections they made at that spot were Malik Monk in 2017 and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander in 2018. Obviously, Gilgeous-Alexander ended up being traded for Miles Bridges on draft night.
Many believe that the NBA Draft this year could be one of the best in recent history. With such a large talent pool, having a lottery pick this year is like, well, winning the lottery. There’s just so much talent available that could alter the course of a franchise.
Being able to pick 11th in this year’s draft is great. However, there has been some buzz that the Hornets may look to move the pick in favor of adding veteran talent. Well, since that idea has already been thrown out there, why not consider doing the exact opposite? If Charlotte has the opportunity to trade for a second lottery pick they should jump at it.
Along with the Hornets, multiple other teams at the end of the lottery have expressed interest in trading their pick. The New Orleans Pelicans just got a deal done with the Memphis Grizzlies where they traded away the tenth overall pick.
The other teams that are supposedly looking to trade their pick away are the Sacramento Kings and the Indiana Pacers. Sacramento will be picking ninth in this year’s draft, while the Pacers hold pick 13.
Adding a second lottery pick would help solidify a young core in Charlotte. Many have gone back and forth over what need the Hornets should address at pick 11. The overall consensus seems to be that drafting a center or wing should take priority. Well, if the Hornets manage to trade for a second lottery pick, both of these needs could be addressed.
Big men such as Alperen Şengün, Usman Garuba, and Kai Jones are all projected to be available near the end of the lottery. As for wings, the Hornets could target players such as Franz Wagner, Keon Johnson, and James Bouknight. Adding a combination of any of those players would be a huge win for Charlotte.
The biggest issue with this idea is the cost of trading up. The Kings and Pacers are supposedly looking to add veteran talent in exchange for their lottery picks. In the case of the Hornets, this would likely mean either Terry Rozier or Gordon Hayward.
Seeing as both teams have a solid guard rotation, a deal involving Hayward would be the most probable scenario. The Kings could use another wing as Buddy Hield trade rumors seem to be progressing towards his exit; as for the Pacers, Hayward’s connection to Indiana is well documented, and it was even rumored he would be heading there last offseason before he signed with Charlotte.
If the Kings wanted to deal pick nine for Hayward, the Hornets could pull off a sign-and-trade that would see them add a player many fans have been eyeing for a long time. Richaun Holmes has constantly been thrown around in conversations this offseason. Many believe he is the top option to fill the void at center in Charlotte. If the Kings wanted to run Marvin Bagley III as their full-time center, a sign-and-trade of Holmes and pick #11 for Hayward could work out well for both sides.
The Kings could roll out a starting lineup of De’Aaron Fox, Tyrese Haliburton, Harrison Barnes, Hayward, and Bagley III. Meanwhile, the Hornets could use picks nine and 11 to replace Hayward and get a backup center for Holmes. It also allows them to open up some cap space for the future.
Indiana may still be interested in Hayward as well. It was reported that they almost traded for him last offseason when he opted out of his final year in Boston. A trade with the Pacers could see the Hornets add yet another center many people have been yearning for in the last year or so.
Myles Turner is reportedly being thrown around in trade discussions (subscription required) once again this offseason, per Shams Charania. Well, a deal surrounding him and pick 13 for Hayward and another young player could be an option the Hornets should pursue. However, unlike Holmes, since Turner is under contract the Hornets may have to throw in an extra asset to sweeten the deal a bit.
Even throwing in a heavily protected future first could get this deal done for Charlotte. Hayward would get to go home, while the Pacers get another piece to help them compete in the East. As for the Hornets, they would end up going down a similar route as they would if they did the Kings deal. They could draft a wing to replace Hayward and a big man to back up Turner.
Both of these trades would also allow the Hornets to hand the keys over to Miles Bridges. He showed great potential last season and deserves a look in the starting lineup full time.
The Hornets would also be able to spend more money to re-sign Devonte’ Graham and/or Malik Monk. While re-signing both would still be a bit redundant, by shedding Hayward’s salary, bringing one back becomes a lot more reasonable.
If either of these trades were to get done, the Hornets would have a very young, very fun depth chart. It could end up looking something like this:
PG: Ball/(Graham)/FA or SRP/Riller
SG: Rozier/(Monk)/FA or SRP
SF: Bridges/Rookie/Martin Twins
C: Turner or Holmes/Rookie/Carey/Richards
Graham and Monk are in parentheses, as the Hornets will likely only end up bringing one of them back next season. Any players written in italics are not on fully guaranteed contracts, but the Hornets could still look to bring them back if they wanted to. Bolded players are those who would potentially be added this offseason.
While losing Hayward certainly hurts this team’s chances of making the playoffs, it arguably puts them in a better spot for the future. With LaMelo Ball at the helm, adding elite young talent around him should be a top priority.
Just imagine if the Hornets were able to select a combination of Bouknight or Wagner and Şengün or Jones. Buzz City would go ballistic.