Charlotte Hornets: Three Trade Ideas to Prepare for the Future

If there is one team in the NBA that epitomizes NBA mediocrity, it’s the Charlotte Hornets. Since taking majority ownership in 2010, Michael Jordan‘s team has made the playoffs just twice in 10 years. With the departure of Kemba Walker in last year’s free agency, the Hornets must turn its attention toward asset accumulation and prepare for the future.

According to experts, the 2021 draft class stands to be one of the strongest in recent years. Cade Cunningham is the Crown Jewell and projected to be a superstar at the next level. Being one of the smallest markets in the NBA, the Hornets must build a championship roster through the draft.

Trade Ideas for the Charlotte Hornets

Charlotte Hornets Eat Tobias Harris’ Contract

The cost for taking Tobias Harris‘ contract is a steep one but so is four-years, $146-million. In this deal, the Charlotte Hornets acquire Harris, two future first-rounders and three second-rounders. The 28-year-old averaged 19.6 points, 6.9 rebounds, and 3.2 assists on 47.1 percent shooting and 36.7 percent from three. Harris is a skilled forward who will give you 20 points a night and can keep your offense afloat.

The Philadelphia 76ers save close to $120-million over four seasons by adding one-year of Nicolas Batum. The Frenchman’s $27-million deal is expiring this season and provides the Sixers with some financial flexibility. While it is painful to relinquish four assets, it’s in the best interests of the 76ers moving forward.

Charlotte Hornets Make a Play for Al Horford

Similar to the reasoning above, Charlotte takes on Al Horford‘s remaining three-years for a coveted 2021 first-round pick and three seconds. At first glance, the veteran’s deal appears unpalatable until you look closer and see a partial guarantee in his final year ($14.5-million). Instead of absorbing $81-million, the Hornets are accepting $68.5-million in guaranteed money. Its another win for Charlotte who also adds to its future capital.

The 76ers save $64-million (or $51.5-million with the partial guarantee) and can reallocate those funds to upgrading the roster. They sent four picks but that is a small price to pay for a big man who doesn’t fit next to Joel Embiid.

Devonte’ Graham Heads to the Big Apple

The Charlotte Hornets cash in on Devonte’ Graham’s value by receiving a 2021 first-rounder from the New York Knicks (via the Dallas Mavericks). The 34th pick in 2018 averaged 18.2 points and 7.5 assists on 38.5 percent shooting and 37.3 percent from three. New York receives a microwave scorer who is able to create his own shot and hit big shots at key moments.

Charlotte escapes with another pick in a loaded draft class and receives a second-rounder for accepting Randle’s $4-million partially guarantee in 2021. Randle is a formidable big man who will see playing time and could morph into another trade piece down the line.

While the picks are the most important aspect of this trade, avoiding Graham’s Restricted Free Agency is a win. The Hornets are historically bad at assessing player value, often overpaying when it’s not required (see Terry Rozier). Sending Graham to New York allows the Hornets to stay away from offering a bad deal.

Will They Follow the Rebuilding Path?

Charlotte is notorious for handing out bad long-term deals, overpaying for free agents, and fielding a team saturated with mediocrity. The 2021 draft is absolutely loaded with talent so the Hornets should be doing everything in their power to secure a high pick. Additionally, rebuilding means going young where timelines match with your future rookies.

The Hornets are going to have to make decisions that benefit the franchise in the long-term. Handing out lucrative deals and hoping the team is decent is not a recipe for success. It’s time to change how things are done in Charlotte and the best way is to simply add assets.

Michael Jordan must stay patient and rebuild his franchise from the ground up.

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