5 Potential Trade Ideas to Shake Up Struggling Charlotte Hornets
With calendars only just flipping over to December, it's far too early for teams to panic, especially when they're playing in the Eastern Conference. But after a 4-14 start that has featured a rapidly declining defense and one of the worst offenses in the NBA, the Charlotte Hornets might be an exception.
This was a team that was supposed to be making the proverbial leap in 2014-15, using the Lance Stephenson acquisition to leapfrog plenty of teams in the East and make a run at home-court advantage during the postseason. Instead, it's been a disastrous squad, one that Grantland's Zach Lowe reports is already looking into trade options:
The Hornets have been aggressive making trade calls, according to sources across the league.
The Hornets are searching for upgrades on the wing and at power forward, per those sources, and they are willing to talk turkey on basically anyone other than Kemba Walker and Al Jefferson. Free agents signed this past offseason can’t be traded until December 15, and few would be surprised if the Hornets make and take calls on Lance Stephenson ahead of that trigger date.
There's plenty of time for the Hornets to turn things around, especially as they get players back from injury and hope Stephenson eventually remembers how he's supposed to shoot jumpers. But if they want to be proactive, there are a few deals they might be able to swing.
Boston Celtics Get: Nikola Pekovic
Charlotte Hornets Get: Corey Brewer, Kevin Martin and Clippers' 2015 first-round pick (via Boston)
Minnesota Timberwolves Get: Bismack Biyombo, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Gerald Wallace and Boston's 2015 first-round pick
Giving due credit to Bleacher Report's Joel Cordes, who originally came up with the three-team swap, here's what Dan Favale had to say about why Charlotte would be thrilled to make this trade, one that allows them to pick up future assets and make more of an immediate turnaround:
Rebranding efforts in mind, the Hornets look a lot like the Bobcats this year. They rank in the bottom six of defensive efficiency one season after finishing in the top six, their offense is broken and Kidd-Gilchrist will be eligible for an extension this summer.
Brewer can help replace some of the athleticism Kidd-Gilchrist takes with him, and both he and Martin add instant offensive firepower. The latter's wrist injury could hold things up, but this is a deal that simultaneously forces the Hornets to play Cody Zeller and Noah Vonleh more while increasing their chances at turning things around.
Losing Michael Kidd-Gilchrist would certainly hurt, especially because there's hope he'll help turn things around after he returns from the stress reaction in his right foot, but it's worth parting ways with the still-promising prospect in order to bring in this haul.
Kevin Martin is an ultimately flawed and aging player, but his shooting stroke—when he's healthy—would give the Hornets the type of perimeter threat they're somehow still missing. Plus, Corey Brewer's frenetic and gambling defensive style would allow him to replace some of Kidd-Gilchrist's production, even if he's less consistent on that end of the floor.
Raiding the Mile High City
Charlotte Hornets Get: Arron Afflalo, Wilson Chandler and a second-round pick
Denver Nuggets Get: Lance Stephenson and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
The Denver Nuggets have to turn their depth into something, and adding Lance Stephenson and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist would give them higher upside on the defensive end of the floor, which is something Brian Shaw will always prioritize. There are still enough offensive weapons for the Nuggets to remain potent, so why not take a shot at becoming a point-preventing powerhouse?
The motivations for the Hornets are a bit more obvious: shooting, shooting, some defense mixed in and then more shooting.
Wilson Chandler has knocked down 37.9 percent of his three-point attempts during the 2014-15 season, and he's done so while taking 5.6 downtown tries per game. Meanwhile, Arron Afflalo has connected on his 4.2 triples per contest at a 40.8 percent clip.
Let's take a quick look at just how rare those types of numbers are in Charlotte.
Marvin Williams (38.8 percent on 3.1 attempts per game), Gary Neal (42.9 on 2.7) and Noah Vonleh (50 on 0.7) are the only players on the roster who have made at least 38 percent of their looks from beyond the arc in 2014-15. As a whole, Charlotte has made more triples per game than only four teams throughout the Association, and it's done so while posting the No. 26 three-point percentage in the league.
Some new shooters would make for a nice change, especially when they're as potent as Afflalo and Chandler.
It's Time for Some Athleticism and Shooting
Charlotte Hornets Get: Gerald Green
Phoenix Suns Get: Bismack Biyombo and a future first-round pick
The Phoenix Suns might have trouble keeping Gerald Green beyond this season, so why not add a rim-protecting force like Bismack Biyombo—who still has plenty of untapped potential left—and gain access to a first-round pick rather than use Green in a relatively minor role for the rest of the year? It's going to be nearly impossible for them to pay both the wing standout and Goran Dragic the salaries they'll demand when they hit free agency, after all.
And that situation allows the Hornets to land Green for less than he'd typically be worth.
The 28-year-old is still a high-quality defender and phenomenal athlete who can knock down triples with quite a bit of frequency. During the early portion of the 2014-15 season, he's taken 5.7 deep looks per game and connected on 36.3 percent of them, which actually means he's declined in both categories since last year. After all, he spent 2013-14 taking 6.2 per contest and hitting at a 40 percent clip.
Can you imagine the Hornets throwing Lance Stephenson and Green out on the wings? That's an unfair combination of length and athleticism, and Green's ability to put up points would alleviate some of the offensive pressure the new free-agent acquisition is currently struggling to shoulder.
Bringing in an L.A. Shooter
Charlotte Hornets Get: J.J. Redick and a future first-round pick (lottery protected)
Los Angeles Clippers Get: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
Noticing a theme yet?
The biggest need for the Hornets is acquiring a player—any player, really—who can consistently knock down outside jumpers and provide some semblance of spacing for this offensively challenged squad. There's been virtually no threat from the perimeter during the opening salvo of this campaign, and it's prevented Steve Clifford's offense from doing almost anything positive.
J.J. Redick is yet another remedy.
It would certainly hurt for the Los Angeles Clippers to part ways with him, as they need shooters as well, especially ones who can also handle the ball like Redick. But acquiring a small forward who can actually play quality basketball is even more of a priority, and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist would be a solid fit in Doc Rivers' defensive schemes from the very beginning of his Tinseltown tenure.
Redick has been good as ever from beyond the arc in 2014-15, and the Clippers have actually scored nine points more per 100 possessions when he's on the floor. That type of impact would drastically increase Charlotte's offensive capabilities, offering hope they can score enough to move up the Eastern Conference standings.
Stealing One of Sacramento's Bigs
Charlotte Hornets Get: Jason Thompson
Sacramento Kings Get: Cody Zeller and Bismack Biyombo
Upgrading at power forward isn't quite as easy as finding expendable wing players, especially because some of the best options (David Lee, for example) are working with contracts that don't make them particularly easy to trade. But Jason Thompson shouldn't be too tough to steal from the Sacramento Kings, as they have plenty of depth at the 4 and can't be too pleased with the production he's currently giving them.
Thompson is averaging only 3.9 points and 6.2 rebounds per game while shooting 36.3 percent from the field, but he's capable of doing so much more.
Typically, he's an efficient scorer who can knock down some mid-range jumpers, even if he doesn't put up gaudy point totals. Basketball-Reference.com shows he hit 41.1 percent of his shots between 16 feet and the three-point arc each of the last two seasons, though that percentage has dipped to 22.2 this year.
The 28-year-old power forward is a buy-low candidate for the Hornets, and a fresh start could do wonders for him, especially since Charlotte could give him more offensive opportunities than the Kings currently offer.