Charlotte Hornets: Three Center Trades

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The Charlotte Hornets are on the cusp of becoming a legitimate contender. They have great young talents like LaMelo Ball and Miles Bridges. Experienced veterans like Terry Rozier and Gordon Hayward are around too. There are plenty of other surrounding talents as well. Keeping everything the same should still mean a playoff berth for Charlotte this season. With that said, they’re a legitimate starter away from becoming scary good. Mason Plumlee is the man now, but he’s no more than a stopgap option. Here are three center-focused trades that Charlotte should pursue.

Charlotte Hornets: Three Trades to acquire a Center

Acquiring an Underrated Stud

The trade: Charlotte sends Plumlee, PJ Washington, and a protected first-round pick to the New Orleans Pelicans for Jonas Valanciunas.

Valanciunas has long been one of the most underrated players in the league. He’s flourishing once again, but on the unimpressive Pelicans. New Orleans has their own long list of issues, so perhaps acquiring young talent and assets is the best move for them.

In this trade, Charlotte acquires a center who’s averaging over 18 points and 12 rebounds per game this season. Valanciunas is also emerging as a legitimate floor-spreader, shooting over 42 percent from deep. He does everything the traditional center does at a high level, but at 29-years-old, continues to expand his game. He can anchor the Hornets’ defense, but also adds onto an offense already featuring a plethora of weapons.

The Pelicans’ biggest focus is on Zion Williamson. If he’s on the road to a long injury recovery, then New Orleans should opt into getting younger. Plumlee doesn’t offer this but can start at center. Washington is the focal point here, as he can play both forward positions at a high level. Williamson, Washington, and Brandon Ingram are a strong base to build on.

The Charlotte Hornets Add a Young Talent

The trade: Charlotte sends Washington and JT Thor to the Orlando Magic for Mo Bamba.

Charlotte needs a center, but can also opt for youth considering the roster’s current timeline. Bamba from the Magic fits the box here. Orlando has too many centers on their roster, and Bamba is an impending free agent. Keeping him may not be in their plans. Even in the Orlando frontcourt logjam, Bamba is averaging about 10 points, eight rebounds, and two blocks per game. His role will likely be expanded in Charlotte, so those numbers should only improve on a better team as well. In addition, Bamba is still just 23-years-old.

Orlando has other centers to fill the void, but could use some other frontcourt help. Washington can immediately start for this team as well as feature as a future building block. Like Charlotte, Orlando is very young. The difference is that Charlotte is ready to compete a lot quicker. Washington is a couple of months younger than Bamba and fits another position of need. Thor is another frontcourt player who’s 19-years-old and a rookie. Orlando can give him more playing time.

Aiding a Potential Rebuild

The trade: Charlotte sends Plumlee, Thor, and their first-round pick to the Portland Trail Blazers for Jusuf Nurkic and Tony Snell.

Portland may be on the verge of a major rebuild. This trade doesn’t send out one of their superstars but opens up space for said impending rebuild.

Nurkic is a terrific center when healthy. This season he’s averaging over 13 points and 10 rebounds per game. He’s 27-years-old too, meaning he fits in the Charlotte timeline. His inside presence as well as clear toughness is something this young team could use. Nurkic’s arrival signals a clear upgrade and benefit. Snell has a veteran player’s past too and perhaps may find his way into the rotation.

Portland absorbs Plumlee’s extra contract year here. That’s not ideal, but it allows them to trade Nurkic for some value before his free agency this offseason. They get Thor who’s a young player they may see potential in, but the real icing on the cake is the first-round pick. Rebuilding teams love to have these so they can bring in their own scouted talent and this pick should be in a fair range as well.

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