Just a day before the 2018 NBA draft, new GM Mitch Kupchak begins to make his mark on the franchise with a trade that may or may not signal a rebuild is on the horizon.
This trade marks the fourth team in four years for Dwight Howard. Brutal. While statistically, Dwight had a solid season for Charlotte last year, he just wasn’t the best fit for the team. He did add value to the team from a rim protection and rebounding standpoint, but his usage rate on offense was far to high and Dwight wasn’t comfortable not being a key option in the offense. Now he will go to Brooklyn where he will be the highlight player on a roster that lacks a ton of talent.
Coming the other way is Timofey Mozgov. A big man that Mitch Kupchak signed to a hefty contract in 2016 during the cap spike. It wasn’t too long ago that Mozgov was starting on a finals team with Lebron and actually contributing. Perhaps it was playing with the best player in the world that elevated his game, but since that 2015 season where he effectively went 10 and 7, he just hasn’t made an impact. Certainly not one to validate the contract. He comes over to Charlotte with two second round draft picks one that is the 45th pick in tomorrow’s draft and the other is a pick in 2021.
Thoughts on the trade:
The trade in my opinion is meh. Most of NBA twitter will probably see it as a win for Brooklyn by clearing an extra year of salary and getting the more talented player in return, but Charlotte does save money off the tax line this year and picks up a couple second round picks. The picks themselves likely won’t produce assets, but Charlotte was lacking 2nd round picks in general over the next few years and now they have some they can hold onto as future trade chips. It’s likely that 45 will go towards drafting someone tomorrow that will be looked at to fill a roster spot. Even though Charlotte has some wiggle room to spend in free agency, it’s minimal. Kupchak may opt to sit on the cap space and allow Coach Borrego to develop a young cheap player while he waits on some more contracts to either expire or be moved via trade.
I don’t think Mozgov will see that much time on the floor with Charlotte the next couple of seasons. Charlotte already has several guys that can occupy that five spot. Cody Zeller will likely be benefited with the open starting slot that Dwight Howard occupied and I think Willy Henrnangomez will be the one to see an uptick in minutes as his rotation partner. Even after those two get worked in, the Hornets also have Frank Kaminsky that can slide into the five spot when he’s not playing the four. Ultimately, Mozgov will be an expensive depth piece.