Logo Credit to Mark Crosby – I hope you don’t mind Mark. Very great work!
Every season I ask myself this question about my beloved Charlotte Hornets. I ask myself, “What piece is missing that would propel us into being in the playoffs every year and in the hunt for an actual title?” A statement I can recall hearing about at one point was that Jordan was willing to spend the money if he could see that the team was on the threshold of being a perennial playoff team.
With that said, I am looking at our .500 team and I’m still scratching my head. I mean, Trade Street Post has been in existence for over 8 years, and after the dark days of Bob Johnson and the Bobcats, I really thought that the team would start to turn towards the light. I had plenty of faith in Rich Cho and what he was doing with the team. Unfortunately, the Nic Batum contract was a major dagger stabbed into this team that I fear that we will not be able to pull out. I blame that contract on Rich. Sorry, but I do. I also believe that Jordan signed off on that contract because it was what Coach Clifford wanted. Now Clifford is gone and here we sit with Batum that does not fit with this team. I’m sure he would fit somewhere, perhaps on a team where they have scorers at the other 4 positions and on the bench, but not here. Batum isn’t the only issue with the team. Ask any fan and they will tell you their opinion. Right or wrong, they all have opinions as to what needs to be fixed with this team. Keep in mind that every opinion isn’t the right one. Also keep in mind that the NBA is a business, and trades and player moves can’t be made like they are in the “NBA2K” realm. Basically, what I am saying is that our team is poised to be something special. Can Mitch Kupchak make the moves to make that happen? I no longer place any decisions, or lack thereof, on Michael Jordan. I believe he trusts Mitch, and now Mitch has to find moves, if they exist, in order to make this team move to the next level.
Does anyone else find it amazing that we are floating at .500? I mean, in years past, we were riding high, then an injury or injuries would make us tumble out of contention due to lack of depth. Other years, we lacked talent or depth, and were fighting to get up to .500. Does anyone see my point? What I am trying to say is that this team is actually at a point with talent and depth that 1 move could launch us.
So, who would be willing to take on a “Batum-sized” contract? At this point I want to list the things he does well, and I’m officially struggling to remember what those things are. I believe at one point, he was lauded as a great distributor, so let’s go there. I could also bank on the coach that wanted him in the first place, Steve Clifford. How about a move that would send Frank and Nic to Orlando for Aaron Gordon and Khem Birch? Why would the Magic do it? Well, what they have isn’t working. Why not move Gordon away and bring in some vet presence and…well…Frank. We could throw in a pick to make this work better to make Orlando happy. Heck, I’d even give them Monk instead of Frank if that’s what it took to get a deal done. Why would the Hornets do it? Well, Gordon could really flourish in new surroundings, playing alongside Kemba. He’s an exciting player that would be a cool change of pace for the Hornets. I think he and Bridges could really complement each other at the forward spots. It would certainly make us much more athletic, and it allows Marvin and MKG to both come off the bench at the same time. Yes, I would be in favor of both of those guys in the second unit. In this scenario, my starters are as follows:
Kemba, Lamb, Bridges, Gordon, Zeller
Parker, Bacon, MKG, Marv, Willy
I’m OK with this.
So, this isn’t a likely move because Orlando wouldn’t want to part with Gordon…right?
So, in order to get in on the Anthony Davis trade lottery, if we sent Batum, Williams, Monk, and probably multiple 1st round picks just to make the money work out and to even peak the interest of the Pelicans. Would it really happen? Doubtful.
If it happened, the starters would be:
Kemba, Lamb, Bacon, Davis, Zeller
Second Unit would be:
Graham, Parker, MKG, Marv, Willy
I have looked and looked at teams and players that could help us, and I’m just not seeing any way to move a contract like Batum’s to help our team get better without having to send someone out that is a certain part of a successful future of the team.
If we could amnesty Batum, I would be 100% in favor of that. If Batum could be bought out, as Howard was when we traded him away, I’d be all for that as well. There is one truth in all of this: Kupchak is looking for any and all options to make this team be more than a .500 team, and he’s looking for the best way to do it without, spending a young talent to make that move. I fully believe that there is a team somewhere that would want Batum on their team. I just think the deal has to be a favorable one before Mitch takes it.
There are very small things that could happen over the next weeks that could decide who is expendable and who is not. I believe it could even determine minutes in games as well. Look at the game play of Bacon, Graham, and Bridges over the next few weeks. I think how those 3 play could be the determining factor for this season. I leave Monk out of this discussion for now as he is still showing some immaturity that he’s going to have to grow out of. Bacon, Graham, and Bridges show maturity beyond their age and I think that will be a major deciding factor in who gets to see more playing time.
As for the rest of the team, I feel like the team is very ready to move on from Kaminsky. I also think that for all of the positives that Biyombo brings to the defensive side of the ball, his struggles to get into any game is because of having Cody, Willy, and Frank here.
What happens next with our Hornets? Well, Mitch is just 1 move away. Your guess is just as good as mine as to what that move will be.