The Charlotte Hornets were overwhelmed during their play-in tournament game against the Indiana Pacers, losing on the road by the score of 144-17.
This concludes an otherwise successful season for Michael Jordan’s squad. Charlotte posted a 33-39 record one year after going 23-42.
However, there’s still a lot of work Charlotte Hornets general manager Mitch Kupchak must do in order to make this team relevant on the broader NBA stage. The good news? Charlotte boasts one of the best young players in the NBA in that of LaMelo Ball. It also has some solid young forwards and a guard in Terry Rozier who can drop 20-plus nightly.
Heading into the offseason, here’s a look at three moves the Hornets should make to improve their ascending roster.
Charlotte Hornets trade Devonte’ Graham for a big man
One of the biggest areas of need for Charlotte is in the frontcourt. Cody Zeller is a decent player, but he’s not a game-changer by any stretch of the imagination. Coming off a brutal third season in the NBA, the 26-year-old Graham could very well be a trade chip. He’s slated to become a restricted free agent, and despite these struggles, will garner interest. Back in 2019-20, Graham averaged 18.2 points and 7.5 assists. He’s a good young player.
With LaMelo Ball now seen as the face of the Hornets and their point guard of the future, moving Graham makes sense. A sign-and-trade would also help Charlotte from an NBA salary cap perspective. One scenario could be Charlotte sending Graham to the Indiana Pacers for Myles Turner. This would give the Hornets a strong starting five in Ball, Rozier, Hayward, P.J. Washington and Turner.
Charlotte Hornets sign backup point guard
If the Hornets were to move off Graham, they’d then have to find a veteran backup for Ball. Recent acquisition Brad Wanamaker is set to become a free agent and doesn’t fit into Charlotte’s future. The good news? These Hornets will have an estimated $28 million in cap space as well as the non-tax exception. It gives them options.
Patty Mills of the San Antonio Spurs and New York Knicks veteran Derrick Rose are two options Charlotte could pursue once NBA free agency opens up this summer.
Charlotte Hornets trade up for big man in 2021 NBA Draft
Noticing a theme here? Charlotte needs as much help as it can get at center. Even if the team were to pull off a trade for someone like Myles Turner, potentially adding a young big via the 2021 NBA Draft could make sense. Right now, the Hornets will likely be picking somewhere outside of the top 10. That would pretty much exclude nabbing the top-two centers in the Draft, USC’s Evan Mobley and Alperen Şengün from Turkey.
Instead, Charlotte packages either Miles Bridges or future draft capital to move into the top five for Mobley. He’d be an absolutely tremendous fit in the frontcourt with Gordon Hayward and P.J. Washington. A move of this ilk would also enable Charlotte to move off Graham for something other than another center.