The NBA trade deadline is just one week away, and if there ever were a year for the Charlotte Hornets to be active, it’s this one. The Hornets currently sit with the fourth worst record in the league and are nine games out of the play-in tournament. They’d have to go 23-7 the rest of the way to match the win percentage of the current 10-seed in the East. Not likely.
The Hornets are already heavily rumored to be involved in trade discussions centered around their veterans. Mason Plumlee and Kelly Oubre (before his injury) were having arguably their best seasons as pros, and both are on expiring deals. Plumlee in particular doesn’t seem to be a part of the team’s future given his age and the team’s investment in Mark Williams. Oubre fits the timeline better, but his deal is expiring and the Hornets might elect get assets back for him as opposed to potentially letting him walk for nothing.
By my guess, these are the things to look out for in order of most to least likely:
- Plumlee and/or Oubre are sent to a playoff team for a late first or package of seconds. It’s possible a first round pick the Hornets trade for doesn’t convey until a future draft, as they may be hesitant to add a third first rounder to this summer’s crop of picks.
- Terry Rozier is traded to a team like the Suns for scoring punch and to be a third or fourth banana on a playoff team. The Hornets will probably try to get pretty steep compensation for Terry, and he’s boosted his value in recent weeks by returning to form after a slow start to the season.
- One of Jalen McDaniels or PJ Washington is traded. Both are free agents this summer, and the team may find the pair redundant enough that they don’t keep both. Both are highly valued around the league, so the Hornets will surely have options here should they choose to pursue them. However, the team will surely keep at least one of them long term.
- Gordon Hayward is offloaded. Hayward is still a good player, but having one more year at $31.5 million left on his deal is going to find it hard to find a trade partner that can eat that salary that also has use for him as a key player. A more likely trade involving Hayward would be a salary dump, but that would require the Hornets to pay a premium to get off the contract, and they aren’t in a good spot to do that right now.
- The Hornets are currently +3000 just to participate in the play-in, showing how much of a longshot they are to have any relevance late in the year. Any trades the Hornets make will likely make those odds even worse.
- Jalen McDaniels is on the board as a potential Most Improved Player candidate. His odds are +40000, which is the longest of longshots, but the fact that he’s even available to be bet on shows that people around the league are taking notice of his improvement.
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