I give the Charlotte Hornets trade for Dwight Howard an A++. I would give it more pluses but you get the picture. Why would I give it that grade? The Hornets were able to get rid of the worst contract in the NBA in Miles Plumlee.
For the next 3 years, the Atlanta Hawks now have the honor of paying Plumlee $12.5 each year. Last season, Plumlee averaged 2 points and 2 rebounds and for his career, he is averaging 5 points and 4 rebounds. That's a HUGE WIN all by itself for the Charlotte Hornets. That's all I have to say about that.
Dwight will be owed $23 million each of the next 2 years, but compared to Plumlee's output, I don't think the Hornets mind that. In Howard, you get a guy who averages a double double for his career. He has done it in all 13 of his seasons in the NBA. On paper, he already gives you more that Plumlee and Marco Belinelli who was also involved in the trade.
Last year at the age of 31, Howard averaged 13 points and 12 rebounds per game. He also had a block per game and the defense he provides is just as important to the Hornets.
To start this offseason, the Hornets were already over the cap and had no way to sign a major free agent. General manager Rich Cho found a way to improve this team without giving up much with this trade. In my opinion, this team is much better than it was 24 hours ago.
Your starting lineup now is Kemba Walker at the point, Nic Batum at shooting guard, Michael Kidd Gilchrist at the small forward, Marvin Williams at the power forward, and Dwight Howard at center.
The bench is much better now with Cody Zeller coming off the pine along with Frank Kaminsky and Jeremy Lamb. The bench will be even better after tomorrow night with the NBA Draft and depending on who they select, that player could push MKG to the bench. That would make the 2nd unit stronger from a defensive stand point which was the Hornets Achilles heel last season.
Charlotte still has the mid level exception free agent they can sign. That's an extra $8 million they can put in that player.
Yes, one trade has potentially made this team that much better. And who knows, the Hornets may not be done wheeling and dealing just yet.
OH, I forgot.
Cho also managed to move up 10 spots in the 2nd round from pick 41 to pick 31. The 31st pick is the first pick in the 2nd round. In the essence, that is another 1st round pick. This is potentially one of the deepest drafts of all time and the Hornets now have a better pick which could provide more depth for a team that needs it. WIN, WIN, WIN...
So what is the downside? Honestly, I don't see one.
Some may say Howard is a cancer in a locker room or he is only a shell of himself. Father time is undefeated and no one is expecting Howard to come in and get back to his 2010-11 self where he averaged 22 points and 14 rebound. That is NOT going to happen. But if he only get you 10 points and 10 rebounds next season, it is still MUCH BETTER than what you had.
As far as the cancer in the locker room, the Hornets have one of the best locker rooms in the league. They have very strong leaders like Kemba Walker and Marvin Williams. They also have a very strong owner in Michael Jordan who according to Cho has already talked to Howard.
And the biggest reason to feel good about this move is Howard's relationship with head coach Steve Clifford.
Clifford was an assistant coach with Orlando and with the Los Angeles Lakers when Howard was with each team. Coach knows what makes Howard tick and the mutual respect between each will be key in keeping Howard on task.
Let's face it, after this last season, the Hornets future looked bleak. With no cap money, it looked like they would have to roll out the same team and hope they would be better just with off season workouts.
GM Rich Cho is in the last year of his contract so just hoping would not cut it. Something had to be done and in a win now mode, the Hornets took a swing for the fences. I honestly think this is a home run, but only time will tell.
One thing I do know, the Charlotte Hornets will be very interesting to watch in 2017-18. Will Dwight Howard work in the purple and teal? I certainly will be watching as well as all of Buzz City.