clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

What’s abuzz in Buzz City; Charlotte Hornets trade deadline rumor roundup

Sorry for the horrible, obvious pun in the headline. I couldn’t help myself.

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

Charlotte Hornets Introduce Draft Picks - Presser Photo by Kent Smith/NBAE via Getty Images

As things stand about a week-and-a-half before the Feb. 9 trade deadline, there are few teams with more names floating around in the rumor mill than the Charlotte Hornets.

It’s understandable, given the veteran status of most of the team’s premier rotation players and the fact that Jalen McDaniels, Kelly Oubre Jr., Mason Plumlee and PJ Washington are all due for a contract extension this summer. After a turbulent, tumultuous, rigamarole of a season that’s culminated in a 15-36 record through the end of January, the Hornets are best-suited as sellers in this season’s trade market. Unfortunately for Mitch Kupchak and co., it seems like this could be a slow deadline period in relative to year’s past.

One of the hottest names on the markets right now is Jalen McDaniels. The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported that the Suns, Raptors, Jazz, Pacers and Spurs are “closely monitoring” the fourth-year forward, whose defensive versatility and budding shot creation at 6-foot-9 are surely valuable to a playoff contender. McDaniels is an unrestricted free agent this summer and for what it’s worth, the Hornets would like to keep him around after drafting him 52nd overall in 2019 and helping develop him into an NBA rotation piece.

In a recent newsletter, NBA insider Marc Stein reported that the Hornets are prepared to take phone calls on Oubre, Gordon Hayward and Terry Rozier. The Suns in particular are interested in Rozier as they “assess their future” without Chris Paul, and they could look to pair Rozier with Devin Booker for the long-term. The veteran guard signed a four-year, $96.3M extension over the summer and is owed through the 2025-26 season. Stein and Jake Fischer of Yahoo! made some good points about Rozier on Fischer’s Please Don’t Aggregate This podcast (which I’m aggregating, unfortunately), with Stein adding Rozier has “a lot of fans” around the league.

Hayward, on the other hand, seems less likely to be moved until the summer, and I’d expect Rozier to remain with the Hornets beyond the deadline as well. It takes a lot of gumption from a playoff competitor to make a big-money trade more than halfway through the season. Oubre has been linked to wing-needy teams as well, but hand surgery has clouded his market until an approximate return date is set. He and Plumlee were both mentioned in Charania’s Inside Pass series, but briefly.

Matt Moore of The Action Network stated in a recent intel column that Mason Plumlee has been made available for a first-round pick. In the midst of what’s become the best season of his career, the 32-year-old is a prime target for contenders in need of center depth. Whether he fetches a first-rounder on an $8.5M expiring contract remains to be seen, but with the emergence of Nick Richards and Mark Williams, Plumlee appears to be the most-likely Hornet to be dealt in the coming days. A career year came at the right time for Plumdog Millionaire.

On a recent episode of The Lowe Post podcast, ESPN’s Zach Lowe said that Charlotte “seems pretty determined” to keep PJ Washington ahead of restricted free agency. The fourth-year big is averaging 15.1 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.4 assists and shooting 35.6 percent on 5.6 three-point attempts per game. For all the flack Washington catches for being “inconsistent,” he’s the third/fourth option and has only scored in single-digits 10 times this season while playing in all but one game, an unseen level of durability for this year’s Hornets squad. Re-signing Washington seems to be the preferred pathway for Charlotte as opposed to moving him at the deadline.

Teams like the Suns, Clippers, Kings, Nuggets, Cavaliers and Jazz are all armed with requisite assets to make a trade worthwhile for the Hornets and/or have a clear need that could be filled by a player currently on Charlotte’s roster. The Clippers, Nuggets and Jazz each have a trade exception that Plumlee easily slides into, making it possible for those teams to acquire him without sending matching salary back to Charlotte, and the Kings are ready and willing to move Richaun Holmes. There are a lot of avenues for Kupchak and his staff to explore.

The only Hornets whose names haven’t been floated around the internet in some manner are LaMelo Ball, Mark Williams and the 2021 draft picks. It comes with the territory when a season gets derailed due to unforeseen circumstances in the way Charlotte’s did, but it still feels a bit strange to see big-name NBA newsbreakers discussing half of the Hornets rotation ahead of the trade deadline. Let’s see what kind of wheelin’ and dealin’ the front office gets up to as Feb. 9 inches closer.