Marvin Williams: Should The Hornets Trade Him?


The Charlotte Hornets brought Marvin Williams in as a stretch-four, but with Noah Vonleh waiting in the wings, is it time to trade Williams?

With the ninth pick in the 2014 NBA draft, the Charlotte Hornets selected Noah Vonleh, forward from Indiana University, and in doing so they started the clock on how long Marvin Williams, a veteran big man who can shoot the three, would stay in a Charlotte uniform.

Vonleh is known as a shooting big man, as he hit over 48% of his three point shots while playing in the Big-Ten conference. His skills seemed to fit the Hornets perfectly, pairing a nice shooting touch with good rebounding skills. In his collegiate career, Vonleh averaged 13.6 rebounds per 40 minutes.

In comparison, projected 2015 lottery pick Jahlil Okafor only grabs 11.3 rebounds per 40 minutes. Williams, in his NBA career, averages just 6.3 rebounds per 36 minutes. So, in theory, Vonleh should be the better rebounder than Williams.

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Williams shot 35.8% from behind the three point line, which is a quality percentage for someone 6’9″ playing the power forward spot. Williams also brings positional versatility, as he is able to guard the smaller power forwards and even bigger small forwards.

In a key game against the Brooklyn Nets, Williams shut down Joe Johnson, using his size to limit Johnson in the post and to harass him on the perimeter. It was clear that Williams is a good NBA player, but he is making $7M next season and is blocking the development of either Vonleh or Cody Zeller.

A team like the Hornets cannot pay Marvin Williams $7M to play spot minutes and spend the rest of the time on the bench. And yet, the front-court is too crowded with quality players to get him consistent minutes.

That means that one of the Vonleh, Zeller, Williams trio probably has to be traded this summer. Given that Zeller and Vonleh are young, inexpensive, and have high ceilings it seems like Williams is the odd man out. More than just that, however, is the opportunity cost of keeping Williams.

That $7M cap figure would prevent the Hornets from signing a guy like Wesley Matthews or another quality back-court player. The tricky part would be finding a taker for Williams who would either send back a quality guard or small forward, or who could take him without sending back any guaranteed salary.

Teams that could use a big man who can shoot is a pretty long list in the NBA of today. That floor spacing big guy is almost a requirement. At first glance, the Cleveland Cavaliers would seem to make sense as a trading partner, if Kevin Love does indeed leave the team.

Rumblings of Love’s unhappiness have been heard all year, although the outcome of the Eastern Conference semi-finals between the Chicago Bulls and Love’s Cavaliers will probably have quite a bit to do with how Love proceeds.

However, even if Love leaves, the Cavs are still stuck without the necessary cap space to simply absorb a guy like Williams. Looking through the Cavaliers roster, I see nothing that is both available and tempting for Charlotte. Cleveland would probably like Williams on their team, but there is not an obvious deal to make.

The Portland Trailblazers might be a better option. Portland stands to possibly lose LaMarcus Aldridge this offseason, and guys like Robin Lopez and Wesley Matthews are free agents. While replacing Aldridge with Marvin Williams will not inspire much confidence in Portland, it would be a smart move while the Trailblazers look for Aldridge’s replacement.

It might take the Hornets receiving the Chris Kaman contract in return for Williams, but even that would save Charlotte over $2M in cap space, with Kaman’s contract expiring after the 2015-16 season.

Kaman is not a great player, but he is a true center and his grit would fit right in with Charlotte’s identity. He would also be able to play a true back-up role to Al Jefferson, as he could guard against the bigger centers better than either Zeller or Vonleh.

While their might be a better deal out there, it is important that Charlotte start looking at potential landing spots for Marvin Williams. Williams is a productive player, but he is blocking the development of their young guys, and is not part of the future for the Hornets.

Next: Charlotte Hornets All Time All Rookie Team