Do the Charlotte Hornets have enough to trade up and land a top-4 draft pick?

Charlotte Hornets Mithc Kupchak. (Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images)
Charlotte Hornets Mithc Kupchak. (Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images) /

If the Suns, Hawks and Grizzlies are looking to trade their top picks this year, the Charlotte Hornets may have enough to pull off a shock deal.

The Charlotte Hornets may be one team that is looking to move up in the draft this year. The Phoenix Suns, the Atlanta Hawks and the Memphis Grizzlies are reportedly weighing their options and could look to move back in the draft. It won’t be easy but there could be an outside chance that Mitch Kupchak could get a swap completed.

One option could be Phoenix as their general manager has said that he is “open” to the idea of trading the first overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft for a “veteran player.” ( Although he is most likely referring to Kawhi Leonard or AD or KAT with those “veteran player” comments, Kemba Walker is a veteran and a two-time all-star.

Another choice could be Atlanta who holds the No. 3 overall pick. Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders tweeted that “So some early early draft scuttle — word from Chicago is Atlanta seems to be open to trading the #3 if the return is right, they seem interested in moving down – that could change as they meet with prospects.”

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Lastly, Memphis could be another alternative at No. 4. Sean Deveney of Sporting News reported that the Grizzlies “want to try to turn that pick into something else” and “are going to be more ready to do something than others.”

A trade would most likely be centered around Kemba Walker and Charlotte’s No. 11 pick. The Hornets may have to throw in Malik Monk and a future first-round pick in order to complete a deal. If we look back to last year, the Philadelphia 76ers gave up the No. 3 overall pick and a future first to move up two spots to No. 1.

With Charlotte sitting at No. 11, it will take a lot more than just swapping picks in order to move up seven, eight or 10 spots. It may be close to impossible to do but the Hornets do have an all-star point guard, a young prospect and all of their future first-round draft selections to offer up.

In order for any of these teams to agree to the trade, they would likely need a promise from Kemba Walker that he will re-sign with them. Whoever has him under contract entering the 2019 offseason, they will hold his Bird rights meaning they will be able to sign him to a max deal and offer more money than any other team which gives them the clear advantage when he hits free agency.

With Memphis having Mike Conley, they probably aren’t looking to acquire another point guard and with Kemba being Charlotte’s most valuable asset, trading for the No. 4 pick is likely off the table.

As for Atlanta and Phoenix, both sides are looking for a franchise point guard. The Hawks want to move Dennis Schroder but with them being in the same conference and division as the Hornets, I doubt a trade gets done between the two sides.

That leaves the Suns who could benefit the most from gaining an all-star point guard like Walker. Charlotte could offer Phoenix, Kemba, Monk, the No.11 pick and one or two future firsts in exchange for the No.1 pick and Brandon Knight who is on a bad contract.

Having to Knight $14.6 million in 2018-19 and $15.6 million in 2019-20 may be a tough pill to swallow for the Hornets but landing a potential superstar with the top overall pick is worth it.

Charlotte would also be giving up on Malik Monk who they just drafted with the 11th overall pick last year. But getting a player like Luka Doncic could be the franchise-altering move that they need.

Phoenix would be able to piece Kemba with an already solid core of Devin Booker, Josh Jackson and T.J. Warren. They could also have close to $18 million to spend this summer on a big man to compliment their perimeter players.

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I’ll be the first to admit that this trade is a longshot and the Phoenix Suns will most likely decline a deal unless Charlotte were to include a boat-load of future draft picks. So unless the Hornets are willing to jeopardize their future (a la the Brooklyn Nets in 2014), which I doubt they are, the Queen City team will likely be stuck with the No. 11 pick for the second straight year which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.