If the Charlotte Hornets are ever going to climb out of the Eastern Conference’s basement, they are going to need to find another star player to pair with LaMelo Ball. The organization can play the waiting game and see if one of their internal options can fill that role, or they can be aggressive and acquire a player who is already at that level that just so happens to be on another team. The player in question? Zach LaVine.
The Chicago Bulls and LaVine are open to exploring a trade, according to a report from The Athletic’s Shams Charania (subscription required). The timing of this report does not seem to be a coincidence. There is a large number of the NBA’s general managers who are in attendance for college basketball’s Champions Classic in Chicago on Tuesday. This is mentioned by Charania as a possible catalyst for trade talks involving LaVine.
What needs to be considered here from Charlotte’s point of view is that players of LaVine’s caliber do not become available often enough that they can justifyingly bow out of the running to acquire him. This is an organization that needs to find a way to build around the best player on their roster by (almost) any means necessary, and swinging a deal for someone like LaVine would certainly qualify.
Charlotte has two paths that they can go down as an organization. They can continue their current plan, which has them in a transition year with a midseason selloff all but guaranteed. Or they can be proactive and aggressive in their roster construction by looking to acquire an immensely talented player they would be able to have under contract through the 2025-26 season, with LaVine holding a player option for the following year. This would take the Hornets through the midway point of LaMelo Ball’s upcoming contract extension.
Being able to pair the contract of another star player with Ball would be beneficial to the Hornets, not just from a talent standpoint but a financial one as well. Having a certain framework set in stone would allow the front office to build the team with one less position to be considered and focus on other parts of the roster accordingly.
Even though a deal for LaVine is a long shot for the Hornets, that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t try. Charlotte needs to explore any avenue to build a team capable of winning around LaMelo Ball, and that includes making an incredibly bold move like this.