The Charlotte Hornets did not make any major move in the 2022 offseason. Outside of adding Dennis Smith Jr. and re-signing Cody Martin, not much has changed on their roster. The rest of the league seems like they are improving drastically. The Boston Celtics added Malcolm Brogdon. The Cleveland Cavaliers made the groundbreaking trade for Donovan Mitchell, and other teams are getting healthy. The Hornets might need to make a move at some point this season. They have some guys that they might be able to cash out on assets.
Terry Rozier has been good for the Hornets since touching down in Charlotte in 2019-2020. He had his best season in 2021, when he averaged 20 points per game. He might very well have the most value among all the Hornets who are available via trade. He has shown that he can be a second or third scoring option on a playoff contending team. He fits this new NBA style of scoring point guards. Rozier can create his own shot and for others as a playmaker. He has not shown any signs of slowing down in terms of production. At age 27, he is about to enter his prime.
LaMelo Ball and Rozier have spent time interchanging at the guard spots too. Still, we look at Rozier as more of the undersized two-guard. Depending on where he was to end up, he could spend more time back at the point. That could be a good move for him. He won’t have to guard too many guys who are bigger than him. Plus, whatever pieces they are able to get in return should help complement Ball and the rest of the roster.
Gordon Hayward has been a steady force for the Hornets when he is actually available. Unfortunately, Hayward has only played in 93 out of 164 games in his two seasons in Charlotte. In both of those seasons the team was trending in the right direction. We are talking wedged in the middle of playoff contention until he missed a significant amount of time. When one of your best players is out, the team pays dearly for their absence. Which ended up being Play-In exits in back to back years. So Hayward’s leash is likely short.
Still, Hayward could still be a productive player in a lesser role. The man was an All-Star in his last season in Utah in 2016-2017. He lost his groove a little when he signed with Boston because of the severe ankle injury. Thankfully his time in Charlotte showed he still had some juice left in the tank. He just can’t be a first or second option on a team. If he can play less minutes, that can reduce the risk of injuries for him. That would eventually prolong his career.
Both Rozier and Hayward have not been the healthiest options, but they are still good players. It will be easy for them to make an impact on a team from day one. They are veterans that should be able to adjust to any situation they could be sent to. As for the assets in return, there should be sufficient replacements available. The Hornets know that they need to get pieces that would keep LaMelo Ball happy. The franchise player’s happiness should be the number one priority for this team.
It would be sad to see two vital pieces depart from Queen City. Their contributions will not go unnoticed. It just may be time for a change in order to make this team competitive. In order to do that they will have to flip some of their most beloved pieces for the future. Unfortunately, that is just the nature of the business.