Recently re-signed Hornets forward named as trade candidate for contender

Minnesota Timberwolves v Charlotte Hornets
Minnesota Timberwolves v Charlotte Hornets / Matt Kelley/GettyImages

As the 2023-24 season continues to go down in flames in Charlotte, expect plenty of discussion and rumors involving the few good players that are on the Hornets roster. The latest is based on some level of interest from an Eastern Conference contender this past offseason. The player in question in this scenario would be P.J. Washington.

Appearing as one of four possible trades for the Cleveland Cavaliers on King James Gospel, this proposal, in particular, seems to be a little lopsided and not in the Hornets' favor (but that was somewhat expected). Charlotte would be sending Washington and Frank Ntilikina to Cleveland in exchange for Isaac Okoro, Ricky Rubio, Sam Merrill, and two second-round picks. 

First things first, Washington cannot be traded until January 15th, 2024, as a function of his three-year $46.5 million deal he signed with the Hornets as a restricted free agent this past summer. With that out of the way, let's get into the deal.

Losing Ntilikina via trade is not much of a loss, as there is some level of expectation he does not finish the year in Charlotte. So, this would be about evaluating the return the Hornets receive for Washington. There is one player of note coming back in this trade, and that is Okoro.

Swapping Washington for Okoro would result in a massive step-back offensively. However, Okoro's defensive skillset could be quite useful for a team that struggles on that end of the floor on a consistent basis, in addition to featuring a starter who is notably a non-contributor in that department. Finding a way to help make up for the defensive shortcomings of that one player is not the worst idea. It is just not all that exciting.

Rubio and Merrill are also proposed to come to the Hornets in this deal, but there really is not all that much to discuss here. Rubio is currently away from basketball for an undermined amount of time, and Merill is someone who is unlikely to warrant a significant amount of playing time (even in Charlotte).

The second-round picks from Cleveland were thrown into this deal to try and make it more enticing but more second-round draft selections are not going to do all that much for the Hornets. Sure, they could hypothetically use them in future trades down the line, but by themselves, they are just not particularly exciting.

As far as potential trades go, this would be a deal that the Hornets should pass on. Washington is not an untradeable player by any means, and they could very well trade him at some point. It would not make a whole lot of sense to trade him at this time for this package in particular. The Hornets seem much more likely to part ways with someone such as Gordon Hayward, Miles Bridges, or even Terry Rozier when taking age, contract status, and competitive timelines into account.

Anything is possible in Charlotte, including a trade of Washington. It just does not feel like something they would feel inclined to do at this moment in time.