Hornets mentioned as potential landing spot for former all-star

Feb 20, 2022; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; DUPE Team Durant forward Andrew Wiggins (22)
Feb 20, 2022; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; DUPE Team Durant forward Andrew Wiggins (22) / David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

The Hornets aren’t the only team in the NBA that hasn’t lived up to their expectations so far this season; one other disappointing - albeit much more accomplished - team has been the Golden State Warriors. The Warriors have shown their age this year in a big way, they’ve dealt with injuries and suspension, and financial ramifications of their dynastic run seem to be finally catching up with them.

But one of the more surprising elements of the Warriors’ season has been the complete drop off in play from Andrew Wiggins. It was just two seasons ago that Wiggins was starring in the NBA Finals, looking like an elite 3&D defender with athleticism and ball handling skills. The Warriors figured Wiggins was finally entering his prime as he’s now 28 years old and in the first year of a 4 year, $109 million extension.

However, the Wiggins of this season seems like a far cry from that guy, as by most advanced metrics he’s been one of the worst players in the entire NBA. It has looked bad for almost the entire season on both ends, and he’s been outplayed at his position recently by Jonathan Kuminga (the two have been unplayable together).

Add that with the fact that the Warriors are currently 19-23, sitting in 12th place in the West, and staring at a luxury tax bill of roughly $186 million (the highest in the league), and it’s no wonder the Warriors are considering moving Wiggins before the February 8th trade deadline.

On the most recent episode of the Hoops Hype podcast, Michael Scotto had Anthony Slater of the Athletic on to talk about the Warriors ahead of the NBA trade deadline. Wiggins was a major talking point, and one surprising potential suitor that came up was the Charlotte Hornets.

Why would the Hornets be involved in an Andrew Wiggins deal?

There are two ways to look at this news. One is to think that Wiggins has reached a point of negative value with the way he’s playing and the years and money left on his contract. Maybe the Warriors are purely viewing a Wiggins trade as a salary dump, and will actually attach an asset or two to get rid of him.

If that’s the case, then the Hornets make sense as a dumping ground, seeing as they have the expiring contracts to make it work, and can afford to take on bad long term contracts while rebuilding. If the Warriors are willing to add in some draft capital (maybe a couple of 2nds) and a couple of minimum contracts, they could easily take on Kyle Lowry or Gordon Hayward for the stretch run. You could make a case that either of those guys would help the Warriors more than this current version of Wiggins, and even if not, at least they expire at the end of the season.

The Hornets could even be involved in the deal as a third team to help facilitate things by taking on Wiggins, while the Warriors get players from another team. Either way, the Hornets would be taking on something positive - either draft picks or young players - simply in exchange for adding Wiggins and his contract, while sacrificing nothing more than possibly an expiring contract.

The other way to look at this news is to think that the Hornets are in the market for a 28 year old athletic wing player who has won a ring and made an all-star game. They may feel the loss of Terry Rozier’s leadership, and think that Wiggins could be a culture changer and mentor for the young players. It could also be a bet that he just needs a change of scenery, and can be a plus player for the Hornets while they rebuild at a position of desperate need; perhaps a buy-low opportunity.

If that’s the case, then the Warriors are likely looking to get back multiple useful role players who can help them win now and behind; perhaps a package like PJ Washington plus Nick Richards would tickle their fancy. That’s a trade that would work financially, and would make a lot of sense for the Warriors in terms of balancing out their roster.

Should the Hornets do it?

From a Hornets perspective, they should only be interested in Wiggins if it’s under the first scenario; a pure salary dump. If the Warriors are willing to pay someone to take on Wiggins and his contract, the Hornets should be at the front of the line to do so.

As mentioned above, Wiggins could still be a useful player for Charlotte, even if he’s a bit overpaid. In a couple of years, that contract likely won’t look as bad and he could eventually be tradable again for even more assets. That’s exactly the kind of move the Hornets should be looking to make, especially if the price is getting rid of somebody they’d likely otherwise lose for nothing in a few months.

On the other hand, if it’s the second scenario and the Hornets are actively trying to acquire Wiggins that would be bad for business. Richards has been a solid young big man for the Hornets who is on a great deal. He has real value to the team. And similar is true for PJ, who is arguably better and younger than Wiggins right now. If the Hornets want to trade these players that’s fine, but they can do much better shopping them around the league than just taking back Andrew Wiggins.