Charlotte Hornets: Ownership’s inactivity botched trade deadline

At the 3 pm NBA trade deadline on Thursday afternoon, the Charlotte Hornets once again failed to make any moves.

For the second year in a row, the Charlotte Hornets have failed to strike any deals at the trade deadline. When the Hornets entered a rebuilding phase prior to the start of this season, GM Mitch Kupchak stated that the organization would be built through the draft as well as “saavy trades.” Unfortunately for the Hornets and their fan base, Charlotte did nothing to improve itself in either of those ways.

The Hornets could’ve traded away some veteran players to acquire draft picks, or they could used picks and those same players to acquire young talent. Charlotte was in the same scenario last year, and ended up letting Kemba Walker go for free rather than acquire assets for him. Kupchak’s inability to make any deals up to this point is severely restricting the Hornets’ hopes at a quick and successful rebuild.

Andre Drummond had been rumored to be connected to the Hornets for months, but a deal failed to come to fruition.

For months now Charlotte had been rumored to be a potential destination for center Andre Drummond. With about an hour remaining before the deadline, the Pistons shipped Drummond to Cleveland for a pair of role players and a second-round pick. The Hornets are currently severely lacking a dominant rim-protector and rebounder, and the former Piston could’ve been a perfect fit. Perhaps more disheartening than the fact that Charlotte is still without a legitimate starting center is that the deal with Cleveland shows that the Hornets could’ve pulled it off.

In return for Drummond, the Pistons received John Henson, Brandon Knight, and a second-round pick in 2023. Charlotte has several veterans including Marvin Williams, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, and Bismack Biyombo that they apparently could’ve swapped for Drummond. Even the draft compensation was merely a second-rounder that won’t be used for another three years. Drummond’s salary shouldn’t have even been a huge issue, as Charlotte is currently scheduled to be near the top 10 in available salary cap next season. In the end, though, the Cavs got him cheap and it’s clear the Hornets simply had no interest.

Failing to ship away veteran players leaves future assets on the table, and is a poor strategy for rebuilding.

If the Hornets had a prayer of making the playoffs this season, holding on to Williams and Biyombo would’ve been a reasonable course of action. Seeing as though they’re not, keeping the pair with the team not only fails to bring in any young talent or draft capital, but also takes up roster spots that could be used to develop the franchise’s current players. While neither Williams nor Biyombo would likely bring in no more than a second-round pick, the reluctance to give up the same type of selection for Drummond is contradictory.

One would think that if a team valued a pick high enough that it wouldn’t part with it, they’d want to acquire as many as possible. Unfortunately, this is just another example of why the Hornets will never get out of the Eastern Conference cellar. When considering the fact that Charlotte isn’t expected to resign either player, their hesitance to ship them off makes even less sense. Teams such as the Warriors, Knicks, and even the Pistons all helped gear up for their future today. Sadly, the Hornets are only falling farther and farther behind.