Recently, rumors began to surface, linking the New Orleans Pelicans with a potential trade into the top-3 of the NBA Draft. We can safely assume that the San Antonio Spurs won’t be letting their first overall pick go, so that leaves either the Charlotte Hornets or Portland Trail Blazers as potential trade partners.
The Pelicans currently have a sizeable treasure trove of tradeable assets. From Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson to multiple future first-round draft picks – as such, they have all the ingredients to pique a team’s interest. Furthermore, both the Hornets and Trail Blazers have reasons to entertain a potential trade.
For Portland, the notion of re-tooling their roster and retaining Damian Lillard is likely very appealing. While the Hornets could be tempted into swinging a trade to show LaMelo Ball, they’re committed to winning with him as their primary weapon.
The only difference between the two teams is the draft position. Unlike the Trail Blazers, the Hornets can guarantee Scoot Henderson will still be on the board when they come to use their second overall draft pick. While the Trail Blazers can only promise an opportunity to select the highly-touted young guard if the Hornets select Brandon Miller.
As such, the Hornets currently hold all of the cards in potential trade talks, assuming the Pelicans’ interest in acquiring Henderson is legitimate. Nevertheless, as with any trade, there will be some pros and cons to the deal, so let’s dive in.
Pros of a potential Hornets trade
Assuming the Hornets are amiable to trading away their 2nd overall pick, the question then becomes, who should they ask for in return? There’s no denying that Zion Williamson is the most talented player on the Pelicans roster, yet his inability to remain healthy since entering the league has to be of legitimate concern.
Instead, the Hornets may be better served with Brandon Ingram. Although, the 25-year-old forward also comes with his own set of health concerns after being unable to play more than 62 games since his rookie season. Clearly, there is no home-run choice when it comes to who the Hornets should be targeting as a return in a trade, but both options are incredibly talented when healthy and would certainly improve the team’s talent level.
Maybe Mitch Kupchak plays hardball and demands that Trey Murphy III is included in the deal; after all, he has impressed for the Pelicans since being drafted in 2021 and would rapidly improve the Hornets’ perimeter-based offense. New Orleans also boasts 12 first-round draft picks over the next six years, which could allow the Hornets to stack assets in the hope of flipping them in another deal later down the line.
The bottom line here is that Charlotte could get one or two ready-made contributors, who would quickly be some of the more talented players in the rotation, while also stocking their cupboard for a future trade. If the 2nd overall pick is the price of making a deal like that, then perhaps it would be wise for the Hornets’ front office to give it some considerable thought.