As a team in the midst of rebuilding, the Hornets will certainly be active before the NBA Trade Deadline on March 15th. It would be reasonable to expect Dell Demps to work the phones furiously over the next two months in an attempt to flip some current Hornets for young talent and veteran leaders that can contribute to the restoration effort.
The most enticing pieces Demps has to work with that he would be willing to part with are his two centers, Chris Kaman and Emeka Okafor. A team can never have too many big men, and there are more than a few in the league who would not mind trading for one of these two big men. Using ESPN's Trade Machine, I set up five potential trades that the Hornets could look into. Of course, these trades are all developed with the Hornets' long-term benefit in mind:
Hornets Receive: Shawn Marion (DAL), Rodrigue Beaubois (DAL), Ekpe Udoh (GSW), Dorell Wright (GSW), Jeremy Tyler (GSW)
Mavericks Receive: Chris Kaman (NOH)
Warriors Receive: Brendan Haywood (DAL)
The Hornets manage to get a veteran in Shawn Marion and a flux of young talent in the form of Beaubois and Udoh, while Dallas snags a solid center with an expiring contract which would help in the Dwight Howard Sweepstakes during the offseason. Golden State gets a solid center in Brendan Haywood, who could anchor the paint with Andris Biedrins, for only a couple of young pieces.
Hornets Receive: Ronnie Brewer (CHI), Taj Gibson (CHI), CJ Watson (CHI), Jimmy Butler (CHI), E'Twaun Moore (BOS)
Celtics Receive: Emeka Okafor (NOH), John Lucas (CHI)
Bulls Receive: Ray Allen (BOS), Chris Wilcox (BOS)
The Hornets grab Gibson, a young big man with loads of potential, and guards Brewer and Watson. Butler and Moore are more of salary throw-ins than important pieces of the trade. Boston deal one of their Big Three as they begin the process of dissembling the core of the current Celtics' roster. With 'Mek, Boston starts their new era with a strong low-post presence. The Bulls receive the greatest shooter of all-time to pair alongside Derrick Rose, Rip Hamilton, Carlos Boozer, and Joakim Noah.
Hornets Receive: Hasheem Thabeet (HOU), Terrence Williams (HOU), Goran Dragic (HOU), Chase Budinger (HOU)
Rockets Receive: Emeka Okafor (NOH)
This is one of those trades that could either be completely irrelevant to the future of the Hornets, or could prove to be a huge key to success. With four still young players coming to New Orleans, there is an increased chance of one of them becoming a good player. Houston gets back a proven asset that can anchor their effort to make some noise in the Western Conference.
Hornets Receive: Andres Nocioni (PHI), Lou Williams (PHI), Craig Brackins (PHI), Jodie Meeks (PHI)
76ers Receive: Emeka Okafor (NOH), Jarrett Jack (NOH)
Giving up arguably their two best healthy players right now would be a tough call for the Hornets, but what they get in return could make up for it. Lou Williams is only 25, and with Jrue Holiday in the mix, he does not get the playing time that he probably should. Williams would be the Hornets starting PG for a while to come, and Okafor and Jack provide a nice duo in return for Philadelphia.
Hornets Receive: Al Jefferson (UTA)
Jazz Receive: Emeka Okafor (NOH), Xavier Henry (NOH)
This trade is probably the biggest stretch, especially from the perspective of the Jazz. They may not agree with my reasoning that they need a big who plays less of a role on offense in order to free up shots for Paul Millsap, Derrick Favors, and rookie Enes Kanter. The Hornets, on the other hand, get a center for the future in Jefferson who would create a nice tandem when Eric Gordon returns to action.