The Charlotte Hornets do not have many expectations this season, in fact, many predicted them to be the worst team in the league.
After losing their star Kemba Walker to the Celtics, they looked to be a disaster on paper. Without any real recognized names, beyond Terry Rozier who came off the bench last season, they seemed to be on a path without any real light in the tunnel.
Yet, the Hornets have remained surprisingly competitive despite their lack of talent. They are playing hard and keeping most of their games close by hustling every play and doing the right thing. They are simply making the most of a poor situation, and have been refreshingly competitive from the first game of the season.
Therefore, trading for a star does not make sense. Specifically, rumors were floating around that GM Mitch Kupchak was interested in trading for DeMar DeRozan or Andre Drummond. They are both not leading their teams to wins this season and have looked unsettled at times. The Hornets, due to a lack of star power, were rumored to be one of the players for their services. After all, adding a star would help their chances going forward right?
Wrong. Here is what the Hornets need to do, and how trading for these stars would be a very bad gamble.
For one, DeRozan is a nice scorer who can give you 20 points a game easily every night. His athleticism and mid-range game is very impressive, and he can be a legitimate third or maybe a second option on offense for a very good team.
But trading for him does not come without any risk. He is on a massive contract, the type that eats away at a team’s salary cap and kills any flexibility. Trading for DeRozan means putting complete faith in him. Not to mention, he is in his 30’s and does not look like the player who will be productive as he ages. Committing to a guy in his 30’s, who has proven not to be the main man on a championship team, does not seem like a good idea.
Also, DeRozan can be a liability from three. He has simply not improved his three-point shot enough to where he can make an impact on today’s NBA. As good as he is from the mid-range, the three are not effective. Giving up the Hornets young talent for a DeRozan is not a good idea right now, especially because he has a player option and he will probably sign a long-term contract next summer.
Next, Andre Drummond. Drummond is playing like one of the best big men in the league, averaging double-digit rebounds yet again. He has been a force inside, using his size and length to swat shots away and also score a nice amount of points on the inside. Adding Drummond to a Charlotte team would greatly help their defense, and keep them even more competitive this season.
But Drummond has a risk also. He cannot shoot at all and is restricted to the paint. He will have to play like an old school center who just blocks shots and rebounds. While he does that on an All-Star level, the Hornets cannot give up their assets for a guy who is a dinosaur in the league.
Most importantly, he will be a free agent soon. Most likely, teams in need of his defensive and rebounding skills (who are contenders) will most likely be Drummond’s top choices to sign with. Unless playing for MJ would change his mind, it is highly unlikely that Drummond would ever re-sign with the Hornets. This means they will give up assets for a short term rental of Drummond.
This brings the next point.
Hornets Goal Of Tanking
The Hornets have remained competitive despite a poor roster because their young guys have potential. They are playing hard, growing on the spot, and learning how to impact today’s NBA game. Their young core includes a nice mix of promising talent that might become very good one day. Guys like Bridges, PJ Washington, and Malik Monk are high asset guys who can develop further and someday become bonafide starters or even All-Star players. Especially Monk, who looks to be a consistent scorer in the making.
Therefore, the Hornets need to continue on their path and continue tanking. This achieves two main goals: growing the young core and acquiring a valuable first-round pick in next year’s draft.
Developing Bridges, Washington, Monk, and even Rozier means they can lead the team in the future once they improve their games and grow. It also means that they can be used to trade for higher caliber players down the line, guys who aren’t in their 30’s or have any real inefficiencies such as DeRozan or Drummond. Once the young core becomes consistent on both ends of the floor, it will be clear for the Hornets if they should keep them long-term or use them as very valuable trade bait.
The only way to do this is to continue what they have been doing, and playing their young guys in order to completely tank the season away.