Charlotte Hornets: Hornets Should Trade for David West


The offseason has gone about as well as possible for the Charlotte Hornets. After failing to land restricted free agent Gordon Hayward they made a big splash by convincing Lance Stephenson to don the purple and teal. They inked Stephenson to a three year deal marking the second consecutive offseason they have made a big name signing.

They also struck some good fortune when Noah Vonleh slid in the draft to nine spot allowing them to draft a high upside player and a high value pick. Later in the draft they swapped picks with the Miami Heat effectively sending Shabazz Napier to Miami in exchange for P.J. Hairston. The Hornets left the draft with a high upside power forward and a shooter for the bench. Not too shabby.

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In lesser heralded moves the Hornets added veteran Marvin Williams to start at power forward and Brian Roberts to backup Kemba Walker at point guard. All in all the Hornets had a very successful offseason and look poised for a breakout season.

However, it still feels like something is missing. They seem one piece away from challenging for a top 3 seed in the East and perhaps even making a run at the conference finals. The obvious upgradeable positions are the small forward and power forward spots, but only at power forward are there available upgrades on the market.

One player who could be available, and would fit in perfectly with the Hornets, is Indiana Pacers starting power forward David West. West and the Pacers are heading into the regular season after losing Stephenson to the Hornets, and seeing Paul George suffer a season ending injury. Rather than a return trip to the conference finals, they may not even sniff the playoffs.

At 34 West is probably looking at the last few years of productivity in his career. He likely wants to play on a contender, and it is clear that the Pacers are not a contender this season. Sending him to the Hornets would allow them to shed money before starting their rebuild focused on Paul George’s return in 2015.

One possible scenario that works in ESPN’s handy dandy trade machine is a deal in which the Hornets receive West and the Pacers get Gerald Henderson, Cody Zeller, and Bismack Biyombo. This provides the Pacers with a young intriguing power forward (who happens to have played college basketball in the state of Indiana) and two expiring contracts. The Hornets end up with a player than could help them reach the conference finals.

Now you may be currently yelling at me through your computer screens, but hear me out. First of all, West provides leadership, toughness, and playoff experience. Those sort of intangibles could be important to a team lacking much playoff experience. Also, West has had experience dealing with Lance and all the things that come with his eccentric personality. A little experience in that department couldn’t hurt. On the court, he can still score in the post, possesses a solid mid-range jumper, and plays tough defense.

With West in the high post with his deadly mid-range game, defenses cannot afford to double team Big Al. Combine that with dynamic playmakers like Kemba Walker and Lance Stephenson in the backcourt and you have yourself a much improved offensive team. West could be used in pick and pop or pick and roll sets with both Lance and Kemba, giving the offense a dimension it did not have last season.

A starting lineup of Kemba Walker, Lance Stephenson, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, David West, and Al Jefferson would be the best starting five in franchise history since the rebirth of the team in 2004. There are obvious concerns, but those should be easily managed.

West is aging but last season he still played at his usual steady level, averaging 14 points and 6.8 rebounds per game with a PER of 17.55. In crunch time he could always be counted on scoring that tough bucket when it was needed. In game six of the round one playoff series against the Atlanta Hawks, West poured in 24 points and 11 rebounds, while also forcing a turnover and scoring back to back buckets in the final minute to secure the victory.

He is under contract for the next two seasons (though he does have a ETO after this season) after which he will likely retire. Once he retires Noah Vonleh should be developed enough to step into the starting role. West serves as a perfect stopgap and mentor for Vonleh, while also giving them the best chance to win this season.

It may not be an obvious move, and giving up Zeller would hurt, but the Hornets would be wise to at least explore this scenario. It is important to capitalize on Al Jefferson’s prime by surrounding him with other talented players, without mortgaging the future. This deal does just that. Even if they do not add another piece, this season should be one of progress and excitement for the Charlotte Hornets franchise. Get your popcorn ready.