I took a peek around the league and one of the more interesting teams in terms of how they will approach the future is the Charlotte Hornets. They have the young star in LaMelo Ball and a few other pieces like Mark Williams on their roster, but after that there’s a lot of moving parts that could change the direction of this team and how they will construct the roster around Ball.
Players you keep at all costs:
- LaMelo Ball
- Mark Williams
This is a pretty cut and dry section for the Hornets. Obviously you do whatever it takes to keep Ball as the franchise player for the next 10 years. After that, there aren’t many other players that fit this description besides Mark Williams. He has shown flashes all season in the G-League and NBA levels, and with his absurd length and pick-and-roll potential I see him as a key piece moving forward.
Solid pieces that could be kept or traded:
- PJ Washington
- Jalen McDaniels
- Gordon Hayward
Washington and McDaniels have Charlotte in an interesting spot right now since they are both relatively young guys who stretch the floor and (theoretically) can provide solid defense. But the issue is both are on expiring deals and the likelihood of keeping both this offseason has to be low since they play similar roles on the team. For Hayward, I don’t expect many teams to be interested in him as a trade target, but I actually like his role as a vet on the Hornets and his advanced stats (when he plays) with Ball are really good.
Vets that they should look to ship out of town this trade deadline:
- Mason Plumlee
- Terry Rozier
- Kelly Oubre Jr.
There’s no reason to keep Plumlee for the rest of the season unless the Hornets front office is planning on giving him a long-term deal this summer (which would be insane). Trading him now has to be a priority considering how many contenders would love to have him. I don’t see Oubre Jr. as a key piece moving forward, especially with his expiring contract. There will be some team out there that would love his scoring off the bench come playoff time. Finally, there is Scary Terry Rozier. I don’t know how many teams would want to add Rozier considering his high-volume shooting, but he is the perfect candidate for teams that need to add a backup point in a 3-team deal.
The Hornets actually have a lot of flexibility in that they can ship out some of these expiring contracts in Plumlee, Oubre Jr., Washington, McDaniels, etc. and get back a ton of picks and young, developing players to surround Ball.
If I was running the Hornets going forward, I would first pray that I win the Wemby sweepstakes and then after that look to adding some efficient 3 point shooters this off-season to space the floor around Ball and Williams. If they don’t win the lottery then I would look to target a guy like Brandon Miller from Alabama or Cam Whitmore from Villanova as elite shot creators and wing shooters. Additionally, Charlotte has to re-sign one of Washington or McDaniels as floor spacing 4s.
If the Hornets are able to get off just one of the Hayward/Rozier contracts either this trade deadline or in the offseason then I think their timeline greatly accelerates as they can 100% build around LaMelo and focus on structuring a roster that fits his strengths instead of forcing a backcourt of Ball and Rozier.
Chin up, Hornets fans – there is light at the end of the tunnel.