2 Trade deadline moves that would boost Hornets, 2 they must avoid

Charlotte Hornets general manager Mitch Kupchak answers media
Charlotte Hornets general manager Mitch Kupchak answers media / Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports
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The Charlotte Hornets kicked off their trade season by dumping one of the only bright spots on the team this season, and unquestionably one of their best players. They shipped veteran guard Terry Rozier to the Miami Heat for Kyle Lowry’s expiring contract and a future first round pick.

This was a very clear sign, in case there was any doubt, that the organization has fully accepted their fate as sellers amidst a rebuild. It’s also likely a sign that the Hornets plan to be active at the deadline and aren’t done making moves.

It may not seem like much is at stake, but the moves that are made (or not made) on the margins over the next couple of weeks leading up to the February 8th NBA trade deadline are likely to have a major impact on the franchise for years to come.

It’s vital that the Hornets recognize where they are as a team, recognize what kind of opportunities that may present for them, and act accordingly for the sake of the future. Now let’s dive into what kind of moves the front office should be looking to make, and what others they should be looking to avoid between now and next Thursday.

Boost: Sell every player with an expiring contract to the highest bidder

The Hornets currently have three marquee players whose contracts are set to expire at the end of the season; Gordon Hayward ($31.5 million), Miles Bridges ($7.9 million), and the newly acquired Kyle Lowry ($29.7 million). All three could at least offer some level of utility to a playoff team this season, but almost certainly have no future with the Hornets.

The return may not be much, and in some cases may be nonexistent, but anything is better than nothing. That’s the alternative return when they get bought out after the deadline or walk in free agency after the season. Any shred of draft pick equity or a young player with any semblance of upside should be happily taken in exchange for either of Hayward or Lowry.

Bridges is the tricky one because he is only 25 years old and has a relatively small contract. However, the off-court issues and obvious PR hit that would accompany Bridges anywhere he goes have surely depressed his value in the market. Still, he is a good player on the court and could help a number of desperate NBA teams that may see the appeal of his cheap contract. There will definitely be some market for Bridges, and the Hornets would be wise to take advantage while they can.