Fending off the competition
No. 3 — Charlotte Hornets
Potential Targets: Anthony Edwards, LaMelo Ball, Deni Avdija, James Wiseman, Onyeka Okongwu
A pattern is likely going to emerge with the teams at the top of this Draft. In order to get them to move off the top pick, the Orlando Magic would have to offer a starter-level player plus their pick AND accept a bad contract in return.
The Charlotte Hornets are probably in more need of a young player and rookie than the two teams above them. They seem less likely to trade their pick than any of these other teams at the top. They have very real needs to solve and this Draft can definitely solve them.
Still, that formula for players at the top still holds. The Hornets could look to swap out Nicolas Batum (player option for $27.1 million in 2021) or Cody Zeller ($15.4 million) with their pick for Nikola Vucevic or Evan Fournier. Vucevic might be somewhat attractive to them if they want to try to make the Playoffs more immediately. And coach Steve Clifford got the most out of Nicolas Batum once upon a time.
But the Hornets are more likely to hold tight and use this pick to bolster their front court.
No. 4 — Chicago Bulls
Potential Targets: Anthony Edward, LaMelo Ball, Killian Hayes, Isaac Okoro, Deni Avdija, Tyrese Haliburton
The Chicago Bulls too could be looking to get a lot better quickly, especially after hiring Billy Donovan as the team’s head coach.
They were knocking on the door of the Playoffs last year, playing a lot better than most expected with a coach that seemed to grind and work against some of his players. But with Zach LaVine, Wendell Carter Jr., Lauri Markkanen and Coby White, this Bulls team has the young talent waiting to figure things out to take the next step.
Orlando Magic fans have targeted LaVine as a trade target for a while. But that seems unlikely if the Bulls feel they can compete for the Playoffs. They would more likely be thinking about trading someone like Thaddeus Young (two years left at $27.7 million) or Otto Porter (player option for $24.5 million in 2021).
There was some thought at some point about an Aaron Gordon-for-Otto Porter swap. And maybe that makes some sense with Porter’s improved shooting. But he is also injured often. Does that really help the Magic other than in clearing some cap room for the summer of 2021?
There does not seem to be a real feasible way to make a deal here. The Bulls seem set on taking Deni Avdija and bolstering the front court that way rather than taking on another big-salary player. They may be holding their big contract cards for later.