Charlotte Hornets – Boston Celtics: Trade Partners?


Are the assets available for trade from the Charlotte Hornets, and the pieces Danny Ainge and the Boston Celtics willing to give up a good match?

It is late May, and with the Charlotte Hornets season long over, and the 2015 NBA Draft still a few weeks away, there is not much news regarding the Hornets going on right now. Sure, there have been some interesting(to me) organizational changes and the hiring of Dell Curry was a nice story, but overall the news is slow.

These times in the NBA’s annual cycle are when columnists and bloggers start throwing out ideas and playing amateur general manager. Some are flat out crazy, some are moderately unrealistic, and then some seem to make some sense.

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Bleacher Report columnist Grant Rindner came out with the idea that the Boston Celtics and the Charlotte Hornets are ideal off-season trade partners. So where does this particular idea fit in on the scale?

Rindner says:

"The Hornets were a serious disappointment this past season, finishing 33-49, despite coming off a playoff appearance and adding established talent in Lance Stephenson and Marvin Williams.Stephenson in particular was a flop, earning the distinction of “least valuable player” from the Washington Post’s Neil Greenberg.Still, Stephenson has had some strong moments in the league with theIndiana Pacers, and he’s the kind of versatile offensive player who could fit well in Brad Stevens’ system.Sure, he takes some bad shots and attempts to do too much off the dribble, but Stephenson is a plus defender, a heady passer and would be an interesting fit in Boston’s starting lineup alongside Marcus Smart and Avery Bradley."

Rindner also talks about other pieces the Celtics could be interested in, including Marvin Williams and Gerald Henderson. The idea of trading Williams has been floating around since it was clear the Hornets would not make the playoffs in 2015, while Henderson is a somewhat newer idea. Henderson still has not made clear whether he plans on opting-out of the last year of his deal, which would pay him about $6M.

As for what the Celtics would be sending back, Rindner talks about swapping draft picks and sending a guy like Avery Bradley back Charlotte’s way:

"The interesting thing with Charlotte is that it also has an attractive draft pick in the middle of the lottery.The difference between the Celts’ No. 16 pick and Charlotte’s No. 9 is not insignificant and could be the difference in Boston landing a building block like Willie Cauley-Stein instead of a more fringe prospect.Boston would likely have to give up some quality pieces like Jared Sullinger and Avery Bradley to move up that far, but it could be worth the price, depending on what Ainge’s priorities are."

Jared Sullinger is not that interesting of a piece, at least to this Charlotte Team. If fans of the franchise did not like Al Jefferson‘s smooth post game, then the ground-bound skills of Sullinger might make them physically ill.


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As you can see above, Sullinger is not nearly as efficient as Jefferson, with Big Al shooting over 50% from the field in his career, while Sullinger is down at 43.9%. Worse, the Celtics big man took 4.2 three point attempts per game last season while making just 28.3%. He is a stretch four who cannot shoot.

While that means that Sullinger would fit right in with the 2014-15 Hornets, who were the worst three point shooting team in the NBA, the team is probably hoping to improve their long range accuracy in the upcoming season.

Avery Bradley is a different story. He shot over 35% from behind the arc last year and is over 36% for his career. In addition to his proficient shooting, Bradley has long been known as a good defender, tallying 2.1 defensive win shares in 2014-15. The only real problem with Bradley is his size.

At just 6’2″, he is not big enough to guard some many of the leagues wing players, while his playmaking skills, just two assists per 36 minutes, are more or less non-existent. He is not a point guard, but he is too small to be an effective “three and d” type of player.

Playing in the same back-court as Kemba Walker would be a defensive disaster, even if he did space the floor better than Henderson or other wings. Trading down seven spots in the draft in order to grab a guy like Bradley does not make much sense unless you attach the albatross that is Lance Stephenson with the pick.

Since Rindner already expressed that Stephenson could be intriguing to the Celtics, maybe there is something that could be worked out to benefit both sides. Swapping Stephenson and the number nine pick for Bradley and the number 16 pick might be fair value.

However, Bradley was recently signed to a long term deal, and will be making around $8M per season for the next four years. Not exactly the kind of money you want to pay your sixth man. While Bradley is popular in Boston, the Celtics probably made a poor decision in locking up a mediocre player to long term deal. Charlotte should not be the ones to let Ainge and the rest of the Celtics off the hook for that poor decision.

While there could be a deal there, a great match of players and needs for the two teams is not obvious. The Hornets should probably look elsewhere in their search to upgrade their roster.

Next: Hornets Offense Needs Adjustments