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NBA Daily: What Bold Move Can the Hornets Make?

In the first edition of our “Best Move” series, Tristan Tucker takes a look at the Charlotte Hornets, a team in the midst of a playoff push and hoping for their first postseason appearance since 2016.



With the trade deadline approaching, the Charlotte Hornets are 18-18 and sixth in the Eastern Conference. It might seem appealing to some fans for the Hornets to go all in and chase a higher seed and first playoff appearance since the 2015-16 season.

However, in the first edition of Basketball Insiders’ “Bold Move” series, let’s take a look at the Hornets and how the best moves can often be the ones that aren’t made.

The boldest move the Hornets can make at the deadline is standing pat — and that’s absolutely what they should do. Looking up and down the roster, there are only a handful of players that would be worth trading away. But shaking up the team’s relatively young roster would be risky. It’s hard to sacrifice young talent for a playoff run in a year where the East is dominated by the likes of the Brooklyn Nets and Philadelphia 76ers, too.

LaMelo Ball is obviously off-limits — and it would take a hefty price tag to move any of P.J. Washington, Gordon Hayward, Miles Bridges or Devonte’ Graham. Some would consider Terry Rozier as a piece worth moving, but Rozier is amidst a career season and looks like an outright All-Star at 26-years-old. Averaging 20.4 points, 3.8 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game on 43.5 percent shooting from deep, it would make little sense to trade someone that compliments Ball so greatly.

Outside of that, the team has its end-of-bench youngsters in Nick Richards, Grant Riller, Nate Darling, Vernon Carey Jr. and Jalen McDaniels. It makes no sense to trade any of those young pieces now, especially with each displaying promising rotation potential.

Cody and Caleb Martin are excellent bench pieces for the Hornets, while Bismack Biyombo plays well enough in his role. There’s a case to be made for trading Cody Zeller, but a deal would only make sense for the Hornets if there was a clear and obvious upgrade available in the market. There are some centers available, but none that seem a clear and easy fit over Zeller, who averages 9.9 points and 7.5 rebounds per game.

That leaves Malik Monk as the only player that could make sense to flip in a trade, hardly a big splash. Monk wasn’t extended by Charlotte, meaning that he will hit free agency this offseason. It’s definitely possible that Monk returns, as he’s been playing very well this season while averaging 13.3 points per game while shooting 43.7 percent from beyond the arc on 5.5 attempts per game.

However, this is the same Monk that was on the outs with Charlotte before. Last season, Monk was suspended for the use of PEDs and it seemed like his future with the Hornets was in jeopardy. While Monk played his way back into the rotation, it wouldn’t be a total shock if he was traded.

One trade scenario could be with the Orlando Magic, which would present a reunion with draftmate Dwayne Bacon and his former coach in Steve Clifford. Mo Bamba is a potential option for the Hornets, but it still feels unlikely that Monk is moved.

Aside from one or two moves around the edges, largely standing pat at the deadline is the smartest move for the Hornets. There’s no reason to sacrifice any of the great things the Hornets have going at the midpoint of the season. The team’s oldest player is Hayward, who is playing like he wants a spot on an All-NBA team while averaging 21.4 points per game, slashing a 48.1/40.6/86.5 shooting line.

Only four players on the entire roster are older than the age of 25, a remarkable turnaround from years past. Just two seasons ago, the team was strapped to huge contracts of aging veterans and, last season, many expected the Hornets to bottom out and be one of the worst teams in the league. Instead, the team battled and barely missed out on a spot in the bubble in Orlando.

It’s a slightly less successful version of the Memphis Grizzlies’ youth movement, but seeing such a young team be so competitive is a thrilling prospect for the future of the league. There’s no reason to move any of these pieces, especially when everything is working well. In fact, it makes sense for the Hornets to give out extensions to Rozier, Monk and Graham as soon as possible.

A ton of cash was spent on Hayward and Rozier, moves that were questioned at the time but have ultimately paid off. That duo’s production and the team’s overall competitiveness may finally make Charlotte an attractive free-agent destination, at least more so than they were a season ago.

Those contracts to Hayward and Rozier might’ve seemed huge at the time, but Charlotte can actually obtain a significant amount of cap space in the offseason that it can use to better itself even further. Combine that with the fact that the team has an open roster spot it could use on a buyout veteran and you have a team that looks like it can give some teams a scare in the playoffs. General manager Mitch Kupchak has done fantastic work with the Hornets, a job that doesn’t get appreciated nearly enough. 

With the trade deadline in under two weeks, be sure to stay tuned to Basketball Insiders as more rumors come to light!

My name is Tristan Tucker and I am a basketball writer currently enrolled at North Carolina State University. I am the school paper's assistant sports editor and have written for SB Nation and Fansided. I joined Basketball Insiders in December of 2020.

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Jazz agree to trade Derrick Favors, first-round pick to Thunder



First reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Utah Jazz are trading power forward/center Derrick Favors and a first-round pick to the Oklahoma City Thunder for a future second-round pick. The goal here was to help reduce their tax bill. While the six-foot-eight Georgia native does not have any notable NBA awards or honors on his basketball résumé, in the 2020-21 NBA season, Favors averaged 5.4 points, 5.5 rebounds, and a field goal percentage of 63.8 percent. The 11-year NBA veteran also recorded a free throw shooting percentage of 73.8 percent last season.

The 2020-21 Thunder finished 27-50 (.306), ranking 14th overall in the Western Conference. They could use another first-round pick. Plus, per ESPN’s Bobby Marks, this trade will put Utah $13 million below the luxury tax. On November 24, 2020, Favors signed a three-year, $29.2 million contract with the Jazz. Favors is set to earn $9,720,900 next season. This is the second time in his career he has left the Jazz.

He played with them from the 2010-11 season to the 2018-19 season, before he was traded to the New Orleans Pelicans on July 7, 2019 for a 2021 second-round pick and a 2023 second-round pick. For the 2022-23 season, he has a player option of $10,183,800. The Jazz plan to also re-sign Mike Conley, so this was somewhat of a drastic move to help clear up cap space. On July 6, 2019, Conley was traded by the Memphis Grizzlies to the Jazz, in exchange for Grayson Allen, Darius Bazley, Kyle Korver, and a 2020 first-round pick.

Moreover, scoring-wise, the 33-year-old point guard has not lived up to his performances from his last few seasons on the Grizzlies, but the Jazz need all the help they can get. Jazz general manager Justin Zanik will make it a top priority to re-sign Conley here soon. Conley earned $34,504,132 in the 2020-21 season.

According to Spotrac, Conley has a cap figure of $39,344,900. Center Rudy Gobert and shooting guard Donovan Mitchell have a combined percentage of 47.61 percent of Utah’s total salary cap. On December 20, 2020, Gobert signed a five year, $205 million extension with the team. He will earn $35,344,828 next season.

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Wizards, Lakers agree to Russell Westbrook and Three-Player Trade Deal



The Los Angeles Lakers have agreed with the Washington Wizards to acquire Russell Westbrook in a three-player trade, sending Kyle Kuzma, Montrezl Harrell, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and the No. 22 pick in Thursday’s 2021 NBA Draft to the Wizards. According to ESPN, the Wizards are also giving up their 2024 and 2028 second-round picks as well. During last night’s draft, at pick No. 22, the Lakers sent Wildcats’ center Isaiah Jackson to the Pacers via the Wizards. At pick No. 15, the Wizards drafted Gonzaga forward Corey Kispert. In the second round, at pick No. 31, the Milwaukee Bucks traded NBA G League player Isaiah Todd to the Wizards via the Pacers.

On Thursday, Harrell decided to pursue his $9.7 million player option for next season. Yesterday, rumors surfaced across social media regarding a possible Lakers-Kings trade involving Harrell. Despite the outlandish predictions and mindless speculation from fans over these last couple of days, this trade move could work out great for both teams.

After all, Westbrook is a 9-time NBA All-Star and three-time assists leader. In his MVP season back in the 2016-17 season, over the course of 81 games, he averaged a career-high 31.6 points, 10.7 rebounds, 10.4 assists, and 1.6 steals per game. On Twitter, Westbrook tweeted, “I’m blessed to have been a part of such a stand up organization. It didn’t take long to make a home in DC, and I will forever be grateful and appreciative of my experience with the organization. Thank you!”

In the 2020-21 NBA season, Caldwell-Pope averaged 9.7 points, 2.7 rebounds, and 1.9 assists per game in 67 games started for the Lakers. The 28-year-old shooting guard will make $13 million next season. As for Kuzma, in 68 games played last season, he averaged 12.9 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 1.9 assists per game. Kuzma is set to earn $13 million next season. For Harrell, in 69 games played last season, he averaged 13.5 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 1.1 assists per game. The six-foot-seven power forward/center is also a six-year player. Instead of having one or two notable super stars, the Wizards having several contributing players might work out better in their favor.

Last season, in 65 games played in his only season spent on the Wizards, Westbrook averaged 22.2 points, 11.5 rebounds, and 11.7 assists. The 32-year-old point guard finished the 2020-21 season with 38 triple-doubles, ranking first in the league and second highest in his own playing career. Westbrook also surpassed Oscar Robertson last season for the most all-time assists; Robertson accumulated 181 triple-doubles in 14 seasons. Now, the two-time NBA scoring champion has 184 career triple-doubles, the most all-time for any player. Furthermore, this is Westbrook’s fourth team in his NBA career.

He is the fifth former MVP in league history to play on four different teams over the course of four seasons or less, adding to the existent list of Bob McAdoo, Allen Iverson, Shaquille O’Neal, and Derrick Rose. Moreover, on December 2, 2020, Westbrook was traded by the Houston Rockets to the Wizards for John Wall and a 2023 first-round draft pick. He is set to earn $44.2 million in the upcoming season. His player option for the 2022-23 season is $47 million. This trade deal will not be official until August 6th.

Per Bovada’s NBA Futures odds, the Lakers now have +300 odds of winning their eighteenth championship in the 2021-22 season. This is a move from 4/1 odds before the trade, leaping the Milwaukee Bucks and Golden State Warriors, and they now have the second best odds behind the Brooklyn Nets (+250). Westbrook also has the best odds of leading the league in assists next season, with first place odds showing EVEN. He is ahead of James Harden (+150), Trae Young (+450), and Luka Doncic (+600). With +6600 odds, he also ranks 19th in the NBA for next season’s MVP odds, trailing Lakers’ teammates such as James (+1200) and Davis (+2800).

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Russell Westbrook joins L.A. Lakers in One of the biggest trades in NBA History



(Image courtesy of AP)

In one of the biggest NBA Draft trades ever, Los Angeles Lakers acquired the services of Washington Wizards’ former MVP, Russell Westbrook, last night!

As a result of the trade, the Lakers can now boast a holy trinity of attacking talent in Westbrook, Anthony Davis, and, of course, Lebron James, unlike anything seen in recent memory. Assuming this new contingent clicks into gear, it might just be the most frighteningly talented trio to play together in NBA history, rivaling the Bulls triple horn of Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, and Dennis Rodman, or that great Lakers team of the late 80s with Magic Johnson, James Worthy, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

In exchange for their star man, the Wizards received three players and what was the No 22 overall pick in last night’s NBA Draft. The former Lakers tasked with replacing Westbrook in Washington will be Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and Montrezl Harrell.

Washington then spent the Lakers No.22 pick on Kentucky’s Isaiah Jackson, but immediately traded him on to the Indiana Pacers in a deal that saw the Wizards acquire pick No.31 and point guard Aaron Holiday. Wizards then used pick No.31 to draft Isaiah Todd to bolster their ranks at power forward.

(Image courtesy of AP)

The effervescent Westbrook had another great year in 2020-21, averaging 22.2 points, 11.7 assists, and 11.5 rebounds per game in his first season with the Wizards.

In joining the Lakers star cast, which already boasts the likes of LeBron James and Anthony Davis, Westbrook, a 9x NBA All-Star & 2016-17 MVP, will now be hoping to end his NBA championship drought.

Westbrook has since taken to social media to thank the WashingtonWizards franchise for a great year spent in the capital, tweeting:

“Thank you DC! You welcomed my family and I with open arms from day one,” he wrote. “Everyone from the front office, to the training staff, the coaches, my teammates, and the fans. I’m grateful y’all took a chance on me and supported me every step of the way.”

“I’m blessed to have been a part of such a stand up organization. It didn’t take long to make a home in DC, and I will forever be grateful and appreciative of my experience with the organization. Thank you!”

With a legendary point guard now fixed among the ranks, 2020 NBA Championship winners the Lakers have all the talent required to wrestle back the title from the freshly-crowned Milwaukee Bucks.

So, get yourselves ready for an influx of NBA betting lines on Antetokounmpo, Holiday, and Middleton vs. LeBron, Davis, and Westbrook for next year’s championship games!

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