The Buzz at 12: the Stinging Reality in Charlotte

The Hornets are seemingly locked into a majority of their roster for next season, and if they want to make the playoffs next season, they will need to draft correctly this offseason. Assuming the Hornets re-sign Kemba Walker, and most signs indicate they will, Charlotte will be on the hook for Kemba’s big deal, Nicholas Batum’s $25 million deal, and the $13 million-to-$17 million salaries Michael Kidd-Gilcrest, Marvin Williams, Bismack Biyombo, and Cody Zeller will each be making. On the bright side, Kidd-Gilcrest’s, Williams’s (Player-Option he will be picking up), and Biyombo’s contracts are all expiring, so the Hornets may be able to move up on draft day.

The Hornets were 18th in the NBA in three-point shooting percentage at 35% while also ranking 24th defensively on two-point shooting percentage. The fit to help with both may be Bol Bol. While Bol’s draft stock will solely depend on his medical report, if healthy or healthy enough, Bol has a clean looking catch-and-shoot stroke while his 7’8” wingspan gives him tremendous upside defensively.

The problem with Bol Bol’s fit with Charlotte has to do with Charlotte’s logjam in their front court with Marvin Williams, Bismack Biyombo, Cody Zeller, and Willy Hernangomez. All of those, with the exception of Zeller, will be on expiring contracts making them all movable either by draft night or at the trade deadline. If Charlotte has its heart set on Bol Bol, then there are two possible solutions. First, draft Bol Bol anyway. With Bol Bol’s health, it may be worth copying Denver’s handling of Michael Porter Jr. The downside and difference from Denver is that Charlotte is not on the up and up live Denver was and Charlotte may not be able to wait on their first round pick to make an impact. The upside would be that by next season, if Bol Bol is healthy, the logjam in the front court will be gone, and Charlotte’s patience could pay off with a draft steal.

The second solution is to trade some of the front court players before next season begins. The Hornets would likely be looking at taking on a longer bad contract, ideally on the wing or at the guard spot. Bad contracts that aren’t expiring include John Wall’s contract and Tim Hardaway’s contract. While trading Biyombo for either straight up works financially, Wall next to Kemba would never work, even for just long enough reestablish flip value for Wall, and Dallas might want to keep Hardway believing they can be competitive next year. Keep an eye out for Charlotte talking to teams looking to move a bad contract.

If making a Bol Bol draft pick work is too much of a headache, Charlotte could look to trade up. If Charlotte were to trade up, look for them to talk with Atlanta. The crapshoot with Atlanta is gambling between whether trading Luka Doncic for Trae Young makes them skittish in making another draft trade or if Atlanta wants to trade for a first round pick next year hoping to save face. Jordan loves drafting from powerhouse college programs that make runs in the tournament (Frank Kaminsky, Kemba Walker, Malik Monk, Miles Bridges, to name a few), so if there’s any chance Jarrett Culver would be available for the Hornets, Mitch Kupchak may not be able to keep Jordan from selling the farm. Culver is currently valued as a fringe top-5 pick, so even if Charlotte could settle for Cam Reddish, they should consider moving up. Reddish looks like he should be a productive shooter in the league and has the body to be switchable on defense. Potentially most important, Reddish accepted his role at Duke, kind of like how Michael Kidd-Gilchrist did for Kentucky. If Charlotte can trade up, they may look at Reddish as Kidd-Gilchrist after Kidd-Gilchrist’s contract expires as Reddish has the offensive potential Kidd-Gilchrist was never healthy enough to develop plus Kidd-Gilchrist’s defensive switchability.

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