Do the Charlotte Hornets have a big to offer the Los Angeles Lakers?

Charlotte Hornets Willy Hernangomez (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
Charlotte Hornets Willy Hernangomez (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images) /

With the Los Angeles Lakers searching for center depth, the Charlotte Hornets, who have many questions surrounding them, could have something to offer.

After news broke last week about DeMarcus Cousins‘ devastating ACL injury, rumors have been circulating everywhere as to who could be a replacement for the former All-Star. We’ve heard names like Dwight Howard, Joakim Noah and more, but the Charlotte Hornets may have someone on their roster that they could be interested in.

Cody Zeller is someone that the Hornets will likely want to hold on, considering he’s a key contributor to the team. Bismack Biyombo‘s contract may be tough to unload, especially to a team like Los Angeles. Willy Hernangomez, though, could make sense for the Lakers.

Should the Hornets even be willing to trade Hernangomez? I mean, he’s not untouchable by any means, of course. He is, however, a young center on a rebuilding team that could be apart of the core future in Charlotte. If they were to move on from him, they should be sure to get multiple assets in return.

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As for the Lakers, it’s easy to see why they would like to add a guy like Hernangomez. He’s not the best defender, but he has at least shown signs and willingness to improve on that end of the floor. He’s incredibly active around the basket and rebounds the heck out of the ball.

Cousins was set to play a key role for the Lakers in 2019-20 after signing a $3.5 million contract earlier in the off-season. With Cousins now likely out for the entire season, JaVale McGee is the only true center on the roster.

Rather than signing a free agent, ESPN’s Kevin Pelton suggested that the Lakers may be better off exploring alternate routes instead (subscription required). There’s plenty of talented bigs, like Hernangomez, currently on NBA rosters that could become trade bait for the right price.

Hernangomez will earn $1.6 million during the 2019-20 season and will be an unrestricted free agent next summer. It’s an easy contract to move if the Hornets decide to do so.

Last season, the 25 year old big man averaged 7.3 points and 5.4 rebounds in 58 games for the Charlotte Hornets. During his rookie season in New York with the Knicks, he was a standout and averaged 8.2 points and 7.0 rebounds, making the All-Rookie First Team.

At this point, the Charlotte Hornets have shown no real motivation to move Willy Hernangomez, and I personally feel that it is the right move. He should see more minutes during the 2019-20 season and it’s worth seeing what he can do with the other young players on Charlotte’s roster.

He was in-and-out of the rotation last year, but he should be a consistent face this year as Cody Zeller’s primary backup at the center position. Durability has been a concern for Zeller in recent seasons, though, so Hernangomez could gobble up even more minutes if he were to miss time.

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While the Lakers continue to search for center depth, Hernangomez will suit up for Spain in the World Cup and report to training camp with the Charlotte Hornets next month. I think the Lakers would be wise to at least call about him, even if they get shut down.