Perhaps lost in the analysis of the two trades pulled off by the Hornets on Thursday was the fact that two players were sent out (Gordon Hayward and P.J. Washington), while five were brought in (Grant Williams, Seth Curry, Tre Mann, Vasilije Micic, and Davis Bertans).
This meant some kind of roster crunch was coming in some form or another. And we got the news shortly after the deadline that the Hornets were waiving the 11th overall pick in the 2021 draft, James Bouknight.
It’s a sad but warranted ending to a disaster of a lottery pick just two and a half years ago. The Hornets had two picks in the top 20 of the 2021 draft and they’ve now both been waived by the team by February 2024, as the 19th overall pick, Kai Jones was waived in October.
Bouknight was a promising young player out of Uconn, but hasn’t been able to carve out any kind of role in Charlotte and hasn’t proven to be an NBA quality player on either end of the court.
This was just such a horrible misuse of assets and terrible evaluations by the front office. There’s no point in dwelling on the past, but getting absolutely nothing out of that draft is a big reason why the franchise is in its current position.
In a way, this move was cathartic, as it wrapped up a day that saw the team truly turning over a new leaf and fully transitioning to a long-term teardown and rebuild. Moving on from players like Hayward, Washington, Terry Rozier, and to a lesser extent Bouknight, marks the end of an era - frankly a failed era.
The word is out that the Hornets' new owners are anxious to make a change in the front office, and Mike Lacett, a reporter for Charlotte Sports Live reported that the owners were the ones leading today’s decisions.
While I generally hate the idea of ownership making basketball decisions, this may be a rare exception to that rule. There was no reason to let a lame-duck front office make decisions critical to the future of the franchise.
The owners are clearly signaling that this is a new regime and a fresh start. They’ve wasted no time in trying to erase the previous regime’s mistakes, capitalizing on whatever value is still left. Now hire some smart basketball people to run the team, and continue building around Brandon Miller.