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3 trade ideas to improve Charlotte Hornets’ defense under Kenny Atkinson

Andrew Buller-Russ

The Charlotte Hornets have decided on their next head coach, going with Golden State Warrriors assistant Kenny Atkinson. He brings experience and a fresh mindset, but Atkinson’s not the solution to fixing their 25th-ranked defense from a season ago.

But now that we know who’s set to coach LaMelo Ball and Miles Bridges next season, the focus turns to how the young core can continue to improve, with the goal of becoming a playoff team next season.

Here are three different trade ideas to help the Hornets improve their defense under Kenny Atkinson.

Charlotte Hornets get defensive with Rudy Gobert

NBA: Award Show
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
  • Hornets get: Rudy Gobert
  • Jazz get: 2022 first-round pick (No. 13), P.J. Washington, Kelly Oubre Jr., Kai Jones, Mason Plumlee

The Charlotte Hornets have two first round picks at their disposal this offseason, with No. 13 and No. 15 in their toolbag. It’s possible they use both selections, but packaging one or both of them for a proven commodity could prove more useful.

If the Utah Jazz are ready to consider trading Rudy Gobert, expect the Hornets to have significant interest. It’s possible that could mean sending Gordon Hayward back to Utah, but there are other ways to get a deal done that could benefit the Jazz a bit more.

Obviously this trade would be a win for the Hornets. P.J. Washington, is a useful player who has yet to reach his peach at the age of 23, but he’s not going to touch Gobert’s talent level. If parting with the 13th pick, in addition to Kai Jones (19th pick from 2021), along with a key bench contributor in Kelly Oubre is all a Gobert trade costs, it’s worth the price.

The Jazz would be getting long-term cap relief, and several tradeable assets, while adding immediate contributors who can be plug-and-play options for now. Still, it’s possible another team offers even more for the three-time Defensive Player of the Year.

Related: 3 ideal Rudy Gobert trade scenarios from the Utah Jazz

Charlotte Hornets trade for Myles Turner

NBA: Charlotte Hornets at Indiana Pacers
Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
  • Hornets get: Myles Turner
  • Pacers get: 2022 first-round pick (No. 13), Kelly Oubre Jr., Kai Jones

Another potential trade target who can immediately improve the Hornets’ defensive presence in the paint is Myles Turner. Although it seems more likely after trading Domantas Sabonis, the Pacers are no sure bet to hold onto the big man long-term.

To actually pry him loose from Indiana, the Hornets may have to sweeten the deal, as this trade likely doesn’t make the Pacers any better to start next season. But maybe the 13th pick, cap relief and the chance to get a look at Kai Jones, a 21-year-old center that stands 6-foot-11, is enough to get their foot in the door.

For the Hornets, adding Turner would be an ideal fit. Not only has he averaged 2.3 blocked shots per game in his seven-year career, he also can help stretch the floor, stepping out for the occasional trey. He offers an all-around game, but the Hornets are mainly in it for his defensive impact.

Related: Portland Trail Blazers could target two Hornets players, including Miles Bridges this offseason

Charlotte Hornets pull off sign-and-trade for Deandre Ayton

NBA: Charlotte Hornets at Phoenix Suns
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
  • Hornets get: Deandre Ayton
  • Suns get: P.J. Washington, Terry Rozier, 15th pick in 2022 NBA Draft

While the Hornets can’t afford to sign Deandre Ayton outright, it’s possible they pull off a sign-and-trade with the Phoenix Suns.

Instead of losing Ayton for nothing, Terry Rozier gives the Suns an additional scoring punch and P.J. Washington gives them a player who can operate in the low-post, even if his 6-foot-7 frame doesn’t quite match Ayton’s size. The 15th pick allows the Suns to find another potential diamond in the rough, as they currently don’t have any picks in the 2022 NBA Draft.

Meanwhile the Hornets would suddenly somehow have an even brighter future, with Deandre Ayton, one of the game’s best bigs, to pair with LaMelo Ball and Miles Bridges, all three players who are under the age of 24. Not bad for Kenny Atkinson’s first season at the helm.

Related: 3 ideal Deandre Ayton landing spots in NBA free agency