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Team: Charlotte Hornets
2017-18 Per-Game Stats: 21.3 points, 3.4 rebounds, 5.8 assists, 1.3 steals, 0.3 blocks
The Charlotte Hornets are 15-23, which leaves them ahead of only the Brooklyn Nets, Chicago Bulls, Orlando Magic and Atlanta Hawks in the Eastern Conference. Worse still, they’re 15-23 with a roster costly enough to trigger the luxury tax, and they have few ways of rebuilding that don’t involve trading key pieces.
Dealing away Kemba Walker would be painful. He’s the face of the franchise in the midst of yet another impressive season that could earn him his second consecutive All-Star appearance. But he’s also the best method of initiating a full-scale rebuild that would give the Hornets hope for the future.
Tim Bontemps of the Washington Post broke this down while also proposing the following deal, which makes too much all-around sense for us to do anything but highlight it:
“Say, for example, Walker was shipped to his hometown New York Knicks, along with [Marvin] Williams, for rookie point guard Frank Ntilikina, Joakim Noah and New York’s 2018 first-round pick. That would save Charlotte about $4 million next season while giving it an intriguing young point guard to install as Walker’s successor. It would also help Charlotte’s first-round pick move into the top five in the lottery, giving the team a chance to land a star in a top-heavy draft, as well as another pick in the middle of the round.
“Noah’s contract is another of the many albatrosses born in the summer of 2016, but subtracting Williams and adding him so it can get a young point guard and a first-round pick would at least give Charlotte a chance to start over—and avoid the tax while doing so. The Knicks could pair Walker with Kristaps Porzingis, which would be an awfully fun pick-and-roll tandem at Madison Square Garden.”
If Charlotte is going to trade Walker, it needs to get back a haul. And while accepting Noah’s unfortunate salary isn’t ideal, a top-tier prospect (Ntilikina), another first-round pick and the chance to move higher up in the 2018 pecking order without Walker keeping the squad afloat should do the trick.
Realistic Value, Realistic Return: New York Knicks trade Joakim Noah, Frank Ntilikina and a 2018 first-round pick to the Charlotte Hornets for Kemba Walker and Marvin Williams.
Unless otherwise indicated, all stats from Basket