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Executives around the NBA reportedly expect the Charlotte Hornets to “continue exploring the trade market for a player who can help immediately in talks for one of their two first-round picks,” according to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype.
The Hornets have the Nos. 13 and 15 selections in Thursday’s NBA draft.
The Hornets are entering an offseason of major uncertainty.
For one, they remain without a head coach after Kenny Atkinson was reportedly offered the job and initially accepted it before ultimately deciding to remain with the Golden State Warriors.
Addressing that need is the top priority.
But they also have several questions to answer on the roster. Miles Bridges is a restricted free agent, and it’s hard to imagine the Hornets wouldn’t match any offer sheet for him. But he won’t come cheap.
Another young player, P.J. Washington, is in line for a contract extension this summer. If the Hornets wanted to package their first-round picks alongside a player to add another talented veteran, however, Washington would probably be one of the more intriguing options. So there is uncertainty regarding his future as well.
And while moving on from Gordon Hayward might be ideal, the $61.5 million he’s owed over the next two seasons will make that difficult. Injuries have prevented Hayward from playing 70 or more games since the 2018-19 campaign, another factor likely to prevent the Hornets from finding an appealing trade package for him.
But if he can stay healthy—and the team can add a few pieces around LaMelo Ball and Bridges—the Hornets are in prime position to return to the postseason. They came close this past year, finishing 43-39 and reaching the play-in tournament, though the Brooklyn Nets and Atlanta Hawks claimed the final playoff berths.
It’s an important offseason for the Hornets. How they handle the draft will give an early indication of the direction they are moving in this summer.