There has been rampant speculation around several Hornets players at the trade deadline, but until recently it was largely limited to players on expiring contracts, guys like Gordon Hayward, Kyle Lowry, and Miles Bridges.
In previous blogs, I had opined that the Hornets would be smart to explore trading P.J. Washington, as his value will likely never be higher and they might be able to get meaningful assets right now that could help the rebuild, while Washington could help contenders, and is still just 25 years old and in year one of a very reasonable three year, $46.5 million contract.
Now there have been firm reports, including one from Marc Stein on Sunday, indicating that the Hornets are indeed discussing Washington with multiple teams, including the Clippers and Mavericks.
It’s a good sign that the Hornets seem willing to discuss almost every player on the roster, and there’s a real chance they come out of this deadline with a small treasure chest of assets - which would be a huge boost to the rebuild.
This is a vital week for the future of the franchise, and getting the right deal done for Washington could be a huge part of that. Here’s a look at three trades for P.J. Washington that the Hornets should be eager to make.
PJ Washington (3yr/$46.5m), Ish Smith (1yr/$2m), Frank Ntilikina (1yr/$2m)
PJ Tucker (2yr/$22.5m), Kobe Brown (4yr/$12.4m), Bones Hyland (2yr/6.5m), Brandon Boston Jr. (1yr/$1.8m), 2030 First round pick
Let’s start with one of the teams that has been rumored to show interest in Washington. The Clippers would get a stretch 4 and a guy they could potentially play small ball with. Washington could fortify starting and closing lineups, allowing Leonard and George to slide down to shooting guard and small forward. They could really smother teams with their length and athleticism.
They could play Washington with their big three of Leonard, George, and Harden, then either a center, like Ivica Zubac, or a guard like Terrance Mann or Norm Powell. This move would give the Clippers a ton of versatility to play in different matchups and bolster their playoff rotation.
They’d also add both an offensive and a defensive backup point guard, in Smith and Nkilitina. Neither player would be much more than an insurance plan, but they both expire at the end of the season.
The Hornets would be able to take a look at three young prospects. Hyland has already shown some scoring ability in the NBA and could regain his confidence with a consistent role. Brown is a beefy rookie stretch 4 who can play in the post and hit over 45% of his threes last season at Missouri.
Boston, the third-year player out of Kentucky is a 6’7” wing who has some shooting ability and can put the ball on the floor. He’s had a tough time earning consistent minutes on the Clippers, but he’s just 22 and could carve out a role in Charlotte.
PJ Tucker would mainly serve as salary filler in this deal, but if the Hornets could get him in the locker room he’s the kind of veteran leader who could do wonders for the young players, and help with a much-needed culture shift.
The first-round pick would be the main prize of this deal, as by 2030 the whole Clippers big 3 will likely be retired. Steve Ballmer could keep paying absurd prices for stars to keep the team in contention, but franchise history doesn’t guarantee much. This would be an incredibly valuable asset for the Hornets to be able to nab.
The Clippers are all in on winning a title with this core, and if they believe Washington could be the missing piece to help get them over the hump these next few years, they’d probably be willing to throw that pick on the table, and the Hornets should readily agree.