The Hornets would be wise not to rush their rebuilding efforts trading their pick

Instead of making an aggressive move, Charlotte needs to take the longer-term approach with their No. 6 overall pick.
Jan 24, 2024; Detroit, Michigan, USA;  Charlotte Hornets guard LaMelo Ball (1) dribbles defended by Detroit Pistons forward Ausar Thompson (9) in the second half at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 24, 2024; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Charlotte Hornets guard LaMelo Ball (1) dribbles defended by Detroit Pistons forward Ausar Thompson (9) in the second half at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports / Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The Charlotte Hornets are very unlikely to even consider trading their No. 6 overall pick in the 2024 NBA Draft, but what happens an enticing offer is presented? These types of conversations will happen frequently within front offices over the next month leading up to June 26.

For Charlotte, are there any potential players out there who would make sense to part with No. 6 overall for? The list is very small, one that is limited to immediate impact players who fit alongside LaMelo Ball and Brandon Miller.

Who will hit the market that might be Charlotte’s most realistic options, though?

Brandon Ingram, who is extension-eligible from the New Orleans Pelicans this offseason, appears unlikely to receive the lucrative deal he desires. This opens the door for Ingram to potentially be on the move, but the price point would be extremely costly for the Hornets. It would most likely revolve not only around No. 6 overall, but also even more draft capital on top of it.

With the Hornets’ lack of desirable young talent league-wide — Ball, Miller and Mark Williams are the established long-term — it would cost high amounts of draft capital to fetch an All-Star.

Kyle Kuzma, who the Wizards are likely to sell high on this offseason, is another name who checks multiple boxes for the Hornets. However, is he actually worth the No. 6 pick? No, because Kuzma’s one-dimension scoring ability isn’t worth an asset like this alone. If the Hornets were to instead offer a future lightly-protected pick for Kuzma, along with the necessary salary filler, then it becomes more interesting from their perspective.

All indications appear to be Washington is ready to part with Kuzma, who will have a robust market from potential contending teams. Are the Hornets one of those? Count me out on Kuzma, unless the price is exactly right to be their floor-spacing wing alongside Miller.

So, maybe Ingram and Kuzma could be the Hornets’ top trade options with No. 6 overall. Mikal Bridges with the Nets is still an unrealistic option until they officially decide to go through with a full-scale rebuild attempt post-Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving era. Maybe Cameron Johnson and Dorian Finney-Smith would be more realistic players to chase off the Nets’ roster, but, again, they shouldn’t be worth a top-six pick unless more is attached.

At this stage of the pre-draft process, only two prospects seem to be locks to go ahead of Charlotte: Alex Sarr and Zaccharie Riscacher. In whichever order, it’s very likely both French prospects will go Nos. 1 and 2. Outside of that, everyone else has a real opportunity to slip down the board because of how fit-centric this class is shaping up to become.

All of the following prospects ranked across the board have their own percentage chance of being the Hornets’ selection: Donovan Clingan, Reed Sheppard, Ron Holland, Matas Buzelis, Dalton Knecht, Nikola Topic, Stephon Castle. That’s a strong group that will have at least three of those names on the board at No. 6.

Charlotte is not in win-now mode either. After trading away Terry Rozier and P.J. Washington at the deadline, they are prioritizing their long-term window building around Ball and Miller. In both deals, they received additional first-round picks that will arrive in 2027 (top-2 protected via Dallas Mavericks; top-14 protected via Miami Heat).

Based off that timeline, Charlotte has a two-to-year window to establish a sustainable winning culture under new general manager Jeff Peterson and head coach Charles Lee. This rebuilding effort in Charlotte won’t be easy, but, if they hit on their pick, they will add another potential game-changer for their long-term core.

If this is a decision between pushing the chips in for a win-now push or staying patient, all indications thus far under new ownership show they are going to take the proper route of building this roster into a winner. Now is certainly not the time to rush any steps in the process, especially at this point in time.