Trade Deadline Marathon: Day 19.1
Hornets Receive: Marc Gasol
Grizzlies Receive: B. Biyombo, F. Kaminsky, Hornets 2019 first round pick, two future second round picks
According to recent reporting from the Athletic, the Charlotte Hornets are very unlikely to trade away Kemba Walker. Team owner Michael Jordan is content to keep Walker for the remained of the season and sort through contract negotiations this summer.
Walker is an unrestricted free agent at the end of this year, meaning he is a risk to walk away from Charlotte at the end of the season. The 28-year old is having a career-year, though his production has cooled off a bit as of late.
This is a tremendous vote of confidence for a team far from guaranteed a spot in the postseason. Bringing in a player of Walker’s caliber would help the Hornets separate themselves from the Eastern Conference’s uninspiring middle class.
Following reports that Memphis is finally considering a full-scale rebuild, it’s possible Charlotte could be a welcome home for center Marc Gasol. This would be an immense improvement down-low for the Hornets.
At present Buzz City is playing center by committee, with Cody Zeller shouldering the biggest load. He’s been a solid player, but is neither a great rebounder nor an inspiring offensive weapon. His 9.3 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 0.8 blocks per game underscore how pedestrian Zeller is as a starting center.
Gasol, on the other hand, still has plenty of gas in the tank. He is prolific rebounder and an accomplished defender. As sturdy threat from deep, he and Walker could build strong pick and roll/pick and pop chemistry. At the very least, this sort of move would be a loud sign from Charlotte that the team is willing to support Walker compete at the highest level.
To get this deal done, the Hornets would need to surrender their 2019 1st-round pick. But because the club will have a bounty of extra 2nd-rounders available, Charlotte may be able to trump other team’s offers. I’m not sure many organizations will surrender promising young talent for a Gasol rental; draft picks might be enough to move Memphis’ needle.