Charlotte Hornets: A team at a crossroads


The Charlotte Hornets find themselves at a crossroads and have some big decisions to make.

While the Hornets have had some success this year, it is clear the that team is not where we hoped they would be. There was talk of them sneaking into a top four seed in the East, but now, that is virtually impossible.

The offense has the third worst efficiency in the league, and the team is currently in eighth place with the danger of not even making the playoffs at all looming overhead.

Charlotte has struggled with injuries this year, something they largely avoided down the stretch last year when they made their playoff push.

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist missed significant time in the beginning of the season and Al Jefferson is just now starting to get back into a rhythm after missing several weeks. Now, there is news that Kemba Walker will miss significant time with upcoming knee surgery.

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Charlotte has traditionally been aggressive in making trades in order to improve the team. I look for the team to do so again as the trade deadline approaches. The question is: What type of trades should they look to make?

The Hornets seem to have two goals right now: get better, and get rid of Lance Stephenson.

Stephenson has been the subject of trade rumors almost


hourly. While I agree that Lance has not been the player we had hoped he would be, I do not think the team should be too desperate to move him.

The reality of it is, his trade value is the lowest it has been while his ceiling is still very high. Giving him away for a ham biscuit does not make very much sense. Even holding on to him until the summer makes him an expiring contract and much more valuable to other teams.

I also think that with Kemba out, he could flourish more in a back-court with Brian Roberts, where Lance would be allowed to dominate the ball more.

Unless Charlotte gets a good offer, the Hornets should hold on to him.

They to decide two things before moving any further. First, should they make roster moves in an effort to make a run at the playoffs? Or instead, should they move assets to build for the future?

If Kemba is out for an extended period, the playoffs are probably out as well. Moving young assets like Bismack Biyombo or Noah Vonleh in an attempt to make the playoffs (and probably lose in the first round) would be a huge mistake.

For years, the Bobcats would make moves for the present while mortgaging the future. It resulted in zero playoff wins and a lost draft pick during the the 2014 draft, all to acquire, and eventually sign, Tyrus Thomas to a 40 million dollar contract in 2010.

The Hornets have done a good job compiling assets and should continue to do so.

Personally, I would not give up a young player or pick just to make a playoff push this year. I would go the other way and let teams know that veteran players like Gerald Henderson are available to playoff contenders looking for help, provided we received an asset such as a future draft pick.

The second thing the Charlotte Hornets have to decide is what type of team they want to be.

Charlotte found an identity last year in playing through Al Jefferson in the post. This year, Al has not played quite to the same level, and as a result, the team has struggled.

The games Al missed allowed us to see a different style of play with a more uptempo offense and better defense.

For an offense built around Al to succeed, you need great shooters – something the Hornets currently don’t have. Instead, they have a bunch of young, athletic players who are best in transition, which does not mesh with the talents of Jefferson.

For the Hornets to succeed, they needs to decide if they want to build around a post offense of Al Jefferson or a transition game of Kemba Walker.

The Hornets’ front office is currently rumored to be looking at moving Gerald Henderson, Lance Stephenson, and Marvin Williams for Brooklyn Net, Joe Johnson.

Should they do it?

On paper, Joe Johnson is the best shooter of that group and could play well off of Jefferson. But on the other hand, he is 33 years old and would not be great for the transition game.

So, should Charlotte make that trade? Well, that depends who they want to be.

Kemba is the future, and it makes sense to build around him. Also, there is the economics of the situation.

Joe Johnson is scheduled to make almost $25 million next year. While the trio of Henderson, Stephenson and Williams will make similar money in total (assuming Henderson opts in), it is much easier to move those contracts individually than the total sum.

Because of this, I would say no to Joe Johnson.

With a few weeks until the trade deadline, it’s time for the Charlotte Hornets to be realistic with themselves about the expectations for this year and to prepare for a transition to a new style of play.

One can only hope that Charlotte will be level-headed over the next month and make decisions with not only this season in mind, but the future of the franchise as well.