The latest reporting from Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer suggests that the Washington Wizards have explored trades to move up to the top three in the NBA Draft. The most obvious trade partner is the Portland Trail Blazers for their third pick, but there is no guarantee that the player the Wizards are targeting will be there at #3. If the Wizards wanted to ensure they landed Scoot Henderson, they may need to make some calls to the Charlotte Hornets for their no.2 overall pick. Is such a deal actually possible?
The top 2 picks in the draft are rarely traded, so it is hard to gauge the trade value of such a pick. However, there is reporting that the Charlotte Hornets are potentially open to trading down in the draft to make a win-now move. This could provide an opportunity for the Wizards.
The player the Hornets would want in such a scenario is Kristaps Porzingis. The All-Star center is coming off a career season after proving he can stay healthy. He also fits in perfectly with the Hornets. Charlotte has one of the worst frontcourt depths in the league, and adding a rim-protecting big who can provide spacing on the offensive end is a very valuable piece for a young team.
Only 27 years old, Porzingis has an opportunity to grow with the team and be a core piece for Charlotte for years to come. Whether he opts into his $36 million player option for next year or opts out to sign a multi-year deal, Porzingis is an ideal fit for Hornets coach Steve Clifford’s system.
Charlotte is one of the few teams this offseason to have significant cap space. They could technically absorb Porzingis’ contract without sending out any salary. However, to make it more palatable for them to trade down, they would ideally want to shed Gordon Hayward’s expiring contract of $31.5 million. The Wizards can take Hayward in return which would help them create financial flexibility next summer when he is off their books.
The Wizards would probably need to add more assets to balance the trade. This could be one of their 2025, 2027, or 2029 first-round picks, or a young player such as Johnny Davis or Corey Kispert. A possible trade construction looks like this:
Can the Charlotte Hornets get better value for their pick from the open market? Possibly, but it would all depend on how much they value Porzingis and how badly they want to take a step forward next season.
If the No. 2 pick is actually on the table, the Washington Wizards need to do everything they can to trade for it. It will be fascinating to see if they have enough to do it.