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Hornets Among Seven Teams Interested in Trading for Donovan Mitchell

A trade for Donovan Mitchell is going to come with a hefty price centered around multiple young players and draft capital

On Monday, Shams Charania of The Athletic reported that Charlotte is among seven teams that have an interest in acquiring All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell.

It's not every day that we hear Charlotte's name in trade discussions for an All-Star, so it comes as no surprise that fans are excited about the potential star-powered backcourt of LaMelo Ball and Donovan Mitchell. 

Unfortunately, I have to pump the breaks on this excitement because of the price that a player of Donovan Mitchell's caliber comes with. 

Due to the draft night trade that Charlotte made with the Knicks back in 2021 for the 19th pick (Kai Jones), Charlotte doesn't have control of their first-round picks from 2022-25. This means that the Hornets can only trade three future FRPs (two of their own + Denver 2023 lottery-protected) which gives them a massive disadvantage in the Donovan Mitchell sweepstakes. Charlotte will have to compensate with the young talent already on the roster.

To even have a fighter's chance of acquiring Donovan Mitchell, Charlotte would have to send out a package that consists of Gordon Hayward, PJ Washington, James Bouknight, and/or Kai Jones in addition to three future firsts plus pick swaps.

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Is that really worth it? 

My answer: No

Gutting an already weak roster for Donovan Mitchell doesn't serve to dramatically help the Hornets playoff chances. While Mitchell is a tremendous player who has proven to be a great playoff performer and is coming off a season averaging 26 points, 5.3 assists, and 4.2 rebounds he can only take you so far. Mitchell is an undersized shooting guard, a poor defender, and his scoring can't make up for the impact you're losing. By gutting your roster for Mitchell you're not only not increasing your chances of making the playoffs but you're sacrificing your future. Charlotte is still in the process of acquiring talent and you need young players to build around LaMelo Ball. Trading multiple young players and draft equity is a move that a team who's certain they can compete in the playoffs makes. With the domestic violence & child abuse charges that restricted free agent Miles Bridges faces, Charlotte can't make a move like this without knowing the result of this legal process. If Miles Bridges is found guilty of these charges and gets jail time then Charlotte will have lost him for nothing. If the team loses their leading scorer they can't afford to trade away all their young talent and draft equity. You're going to need guys like PJ Washington, James Bouknight,  Kai Jones, and Mark Williams to continue to grow to build a winning team around LaMelo. As enticing as Donovan Mitchell is, his addition alone won't make Charlotte a consistent playoff contender.

Looking at a potential Charlotte trade from Utah's side, the Hornets assets likely don't match opposing teams' offers. Utah acquired 5 future first round picks for Rudy Gobert, and will be looking for even more in a Donovan Mitchell trade. Charlotte's draft equity is lackluster to say the least with them only being able to trade two of their own picks and a 2023 Denver lottery-protected pick. Their young talent may also not be very attractive to Utah with Bouknight and Kai Jones playing a combined 367 minutes in their rookie seasons. Both of these players will be turning 22 in the upcoming season and haven't shown much in the NBA for them to be highly valued as assets in a Donovan Mitchell trade. PJ Washington is a name that could be intriguing for the Jazz as he's shown an ability to shoot the ball at a high level from the second he entered the league. His flexibility to guard and play multiple positions is especially interesting. But Washington has yet to show major improvements in his offensive game throughout the year and he'll also be a restricted free agent in 2023. Utah may not be looking to sign a guy like PJ to a big offer sheet this early in their rebuild. Finally, Gordon Hayward is a negative asset that they'd be taking on for the next two seasons. Taking on Hayward and getting a return in young players and draft equity, that doesn't match the Knicks who are armed with eight future first round picks.

Charlotte likely doesn't have a very competitive offer in comparison to teams like Toronto and New York, and even if they do I don't believe they should make this move without certainty in the Miles Bridges case.