Hornets could still get last laugh in P.J. Washington trade (despite early returns)

The Hornets can win the P.J. Washington trade if this happens.
Charlotte Hornets, P.J. Washington Jr.
Charlotte Hornets, P.J. Washington Jr. / Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The Charlotte Hornets are building. Brandon Miller looks like a future star, and LaMelo Ball is only 22 years old. It is easy to forget Ball was an All-Star in 2022 after two lost seasons from injury. Charlotte has their roster core in place but must build a winner around them.

The Hornets traded P.J. Washington and two second-round draft picks to Dallas just before the deadline for Grant Williams, Seth Curry, and a top-two protected 2027 1st round selection. Charlotte was not making the playoffs and saw a chance to get a quality draft choice and two role players.

Early returns have not been strong. Washington took his game to another level on the Mavericks and has played a crucial role in them getting to the NBA Finals. Fans may be quick to say Charlotte lost the trade, but it could be the Hornets who laugh last.

Hornets must nail 1st round pick to get the last laugh in P.J. Washington trade

It is impossible to say where that 2027 1st round draft pick will land. The Mavericks reached the conference finals in 2022 before missing the postseason entirely in 2023. Jalen Brunson left and the Kyrie Irving trade got off to a rocky start. Despite having two superstars, Dallas was in the lottery.

Kyrie is no stranger to an abrupt exit and has played for four different franchises in the last eight years. If Irving sours on the Mavericks and asks out before 2027, Luka Doncic may follow him. Dallas does not have a ton of draft capital and could be in a total rebuild in three years. The Mavs would try to tank their way into a top-two pick, but the lottery gods may shine on Charlotte.

Even if the Mavericks stay in contention, the Hornets could nail a pick in the 20s and get a difference-maker. They might select someone better than P.J. Washington and it could come at the perfect time. Brandon Miller should be in his prime, and the Hornets may be back in playoff contention. Adding another rotation piece could be just what Charlotte needs to help them finish in the top six and guarantee a spot.

Early returns of the trade are not great. Why was Washington not this locked in during his time in Charlotte? His defense and shot-making appear to have improved playing with Luka and Kyrie. Did the Hornets make a mistake in trading him with two-plus seasons left on his contract? He may be shining in Dallas and helping the Mavericks contend for a title, but this trade isn’t done until the draft pick conveys and has a chance to blossom in Charlotte.

Things are looking up for the Charlotte Hornets. They have a new ownership group and head coach. They will add another high lottery pick in the 2024 NBA Draft and have two young stars on their roster. Can they get back to the playoffs for the first time since 2016? That is the goal, but stay tuned to see how the franchise fares.