Is there a world where the Charlotte Hornets send Gordon Hayward to an Eastern Conference contender? That is what has been proposed in a recent mock deal appearing on NBA Analysis Network. The hypothetical trade has Charlotte trading Hayward and two second-round picks (2024, 2027) to the Cleveland Cavaliers in exchange for Caris LeVert, Isaac Okoro, and Ricky Rubio. In the eyes of the author, this deal is mostly about Okoro from the Hornets’ perspective.
“For the most part, the Hornets are doing this deal for Okoro. The rest is window dressing. He hasn’t lived up to expectations in Cleveland, but for a young team like Charlotte, he’s worth taking a flier on. If he hits his ceiling, he’ll be a meaningful part of this team’s rotation.”
While the point about Okoro not living up to expectations in Cleveland is correct, the overall analysis of the deal is a bit off. There is no reason for this team to acquire Okoro when they drafted Brandon Miller second overall and need him to see a large amount of playing time. Additionally, Okoro is mostly a defensive first wing who struggles to find consistency on the offensive end of the court. Even though Okoro’s defense would be an asset alongside the defensively challenged LaMelo Ball, his ideal spot for any team is off the bench.
LeVert’s inclusion in the deal is interesting, although it is completely overlooked by the author. Like Okoro, LeVert can be an asset off the bench who can score while the starters are getting some much-needed rest. Being able to have a proven player in LeVert able to take pressure off the starting lineup would go a long way for the Hornets this season. There are concerns about LeVert’s inefficiency at times which could clash with Ball if both are having an off night. Ideally, their minutes would be staggered to prevent both players from having co-existing stretches where they are e experiencing difficulty scoring.
Concerning Rubio, he is currently taking a break from his career as a professional basketball player. While the expectation is that Rubio will return at some point in time, that is not necessarily a guarantee.
This is not the most exciting deal for the Hornets at this current juncture, but taking fliers on players in moves like this is the best foot forward for the organization. It is about acquiring talent and getting younger. Both of these goals would be accomplished in this hypothetical trade proposal.