Charlotte Hornets: The possibility of trading for Marc Gasol

Charlotte Hornets Cody Zeller (Photo by Brock Williams-Smith/NBAE via Getty Images)
Charlotte Hornets Cody Zeller (Photo by Brock Williams-Smith/NBAE via Getty Images) /

With Marc Gasol being available for trade, do the Charlotte Hornets have a realistic chance at landing the former All-Star?

A Bleacher Report article entitled Blockbuster Deals That Would Blow Up the NBA Trade Deadline by Zach Buckley was posted on yesterday 1/21/19. In it, five proposed trades were given that would indeed shake the NBA platform. One such proposition that has caught the eye of many Charlotte Hornets fans was heavily unsuspecting. Unsuspecting, and yet, very tempting…

The Charlotte Hornets have struggled with performance in recent years at center. Often injured Cody Zeller has been productive player for the team, but has struggled to stay healthy.

When Zeller is injury free, he provides a complimentary piece to star guard Kemba Walker given that he performs excellent in pick and roll situations, moderate slashing ability, and as a decent rim protecting big man. Currently, he remains their best two-way big man and is invaluable to the team as he does many things that the stat sheets don’t currently track.

But what Zeller does not provide is an offensive game that can relieve pressure from Walker when needed, and that has never been the archetype of player that Zeller was ever listed as a starter. But the odd thing of this trade isn’t the play, injury, absence of Zeller. In this proposed trade, Charlotte finally jettisons Nicolas Batum and a backup center with potential in Willy Hernangomez for Memphis Grizzlies veteran center and leader in Marc Gasol.

Hernangomez, the 6’11 big man from Spain has a game reminiscent of the older veteran. Though not the defensive player that the Memphis big man is, Hernangomez has the foundation to be a lesser version of the two-time NBA All-Star. On the surface, this trade would seem to excite a fan base by processes of addition AND addition by subtraction. To understand, here’s why:

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The positives of this trade are obviously getting rid of Batum’s overblown contract as well as gaining a former All-Star at a vital position. At 34 years old, Gasol has been a high quality player for all of his 10-year career.

Able to play both in the post and outside the three-point line, Gasol better fits the style of modern day centers that the NBA currently employs. Though the Hornets have recently made playing at a higher pace a part of their identity, Gasol could help in the transition game by using his 8.5 RPG and kick-starting fast breaks to the faster players (i.e. Walker, Malik Monk, Miles Bridges, and Jeremy Lamb).

Also, in Gasol, you have a player with a career average of 15.2 PPG and 7.7 RPG, a player capable of filling up a stat sheet. Gasol is set to make $24,119,025 million this season and a player option for next season worth $25,595,700 million. If he chooses to opt out, which isn’t likely given the amount of money he’d make, Hornets would have ample space to re-sign both Walker and Lamb.

The negatives could equally be as damning for the Hornets, and would forcefully begin the rebuild so heavily rumored to start in Charlotte’s near future.

If Gasol opts in, the team would be on the hook for the aforementioned $25+ million (more than Batum currently makes) and would face possibly losing both Walker and Lamb in the same off-season while still paying Marvin Williams, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, and Bismack Biyombo a combined $45+ million for the 2019-20 season.

$57 million would be invested in the center position alone. Though gaining a premier player, the holes left would leave the team in a bigger hole.

With the top two scoring players gone, a young inexperienced but highly impressive Devonte’ Graham to likely start as the team’s point guard, the hot and cold Monk would simultaneously become a starter at shooting guard and the team’s go-to scorer, while 2018 first-round pick Miles Bridges would possibly become the starter at small forward.

As youth would begin to take a step into the forefront of the franchise, inexperience would also hinder the team that relied so heavily on veteran play.

In conclusion, there would be both positives and negatives with a Gasol trade. If Charlotte were to embrace a full on rebuild, trading for Gasol (assuming he opts in for 2019-2020) would inevitably help to begin the process unless more moves were to be made. Would Gasol even be willing to be on a rebuilding team if he were to opt in for the 2019-2020 season?

The Charlotte Hornets would possibly make it to the playoffs with Walker and Gasol in their first season together, but financially it could spell the end for the team’s franchise leader and captain with so many teammates earning a premier salary.

If Gasol leaves after the year, however, Charlotte could possibly keep one or both its top scorers and gets out of one of the NBA’s worse contracts.

But with Walker expecting a severe bump in pay, the move would still leave the team with an underachieving squad, a max-contract player, little to no cap flexibility, and no 2019 first-round selection (see the Washington Wizards for a similar cap situation).

Next. Each trade candidates potential return. dark

Diagnosis: Pass on Gasol for a front court player with a longer-term contract.