Connect with us


Hornets Restructure Roster With Mann, Pair Of Europeans And Charlotteans



Two-and-a-half weeks after parting ways with Terry Rozier, the Charlotte Hornets made two more major moves before Thursday afternoon’s NBA trade deadline, sending Gordon Hayward to Oklahoma City and then PJ Washington to Dallas.

Dāvis Bertāns, Tre Mann, and Vasilije Micić will come over from the Thunder, while the Mavericks will send back a pair of Queen City natives in Grant Williams and Seth Curry. To make room on the 15-man roster, James Bouknight, Ish Smith, and Frank Ntilikina were all waived.

These transactions additionally include the Hornets netting a pair of second-round picks from Oklahoma City (Houston’s 2024 and Philadelphia’s 2025), as well as Dallas’ own top-two protected 2027 first-round pick. Two other second-round picks (Boston’s 2024 and the least favorable of Charlotte or the LA Clippers’ 2028) will also be heading to Dallas.

“We’re more balanced as a team if you look at the positions,” said Hornets President of Basketball Operations and General Manager Mitch Kupchak. “We are hopeful… that our bench will perform better than the bench we had. We’ve added veterans. That part I think we’ll see, beginning [Saturday] when they pass their physicals. Just as big as getting the players, and I’m lumping in the Terry Rozier trade, [are the two first-round picks]. Both have a tremendous amount of upside. They are out there a little bit (2027) with very little protection.”

Once everybody gets settled, there will only be nine (ten counting Kyle Lowry’s contract) remaining non-two-way players from the Hornets’ final pre-deadline game back on Wednesday night. All five incoming players are under team control through at least the 2024-25 season, which provides the organization with a very solid framework to start building around and evaluating heading into this summer’s NBA Draft and free agency.

Dāvis Bertāns (PF, 6-10)

First arriving in Oklahoma City last summer, Bertāns is nearing the end of his eighth NBA season. He’s made only 15 appearances this season, but the 3-point shooting still looks sharp (41.7%), granted it’s a small sample size (10-of-24). During his days with the Wizards from 2019-22, the Latvian catch-and-shoot specialist was a regular thorn in the Hornets’ side; his second-highest single-game scoring total came in Charlotte on Dec. 10, 2019 (32; eight 3-pointers). He can provide some valuable floor-spacing to the Hornets’ frontcourt now that Washington is gone.

Mann, picked 18th overall in 2021, hasn’t played nearly as much this season as he did in his first two, mainly because of Oklahoma City’s talent level, depth, and health. Much like what happened to former-Hornet Théo Maledon in OKC, Mann’s just been buried behind a lot of very good players. Averaging 3.8 points on a career-high 50.0% shooting and 42.1% from 3-point range (8-of-19) in 13 games, there’s a bounce and craftiness to Mann’s game. A change of scenery to where he now has a chance to play significantly more should help his development.  

Vasilije Micić (PG, 6-3)

Prior to joining the Thunder last October, the 30-year-old Serbian-born Micić was widely considered one of the best non-NBA players in the world. A two-time EuroLeague Champion and Final Four MVP with Turkey’s Anadolu Efes, Micić is the type of creative veteran ball-handler that the Hornets’ thin backcourt desperately needs right now. While the scoring hasn’t quite translated yet (3.3 points on 40.7% shooting; 24.4% from 3-point range), Micić is dishing out 2.5 assists in 12.0 minutes over 30 outings and could slide into Charlotte’s rotation right away. 

Like Bertāns (who he essentially replaced in Dallas), Williams is another 3-point-shooting forward (37.6% this season, 37.8% career), who can also guard one through four. The Providence Day School product is averaging 8.1 points, 3.6 rebounds and 1.7 assists this season, although has struggled from inside the arc (career-low 48.6%). Besides possibly now having some more freedom to create off the dribble, the 25-year-old brings a competitive fire and extensive playoff experience, as evidenced by his 61 career playoff games.

Long-time Charlotte fans got to watch one Curry play for the Hornets back in the 1990’s and now, they’ll see another with the arrival of Dell’s son Seth to Charlotte. Now 33 years old, the younger Curry is tallying 4.3 points and shooting 36.3% from 3-point range (29-of-80) over 12.7 minutes in 36 outings and is seventh on the NBA’s all-time 3-point percentage leaderboard (.4323). Unlike his older brother, Curry had to take the G League route before breaking into the league. Besides the leadership factor, having another Curry in Charlotte should be entertaining.

Splitting Rozier, Hayward and Washington into multiple assets – players, picks, and cap flexibility – was exactly what the Hornets needed to do. These five new players will collectively bring an influx of skill, depth, underutilized potential, experience, and leadership to a Charlotte roster that could use a shake-up, even though that’s not always the easiest thing to do.

Added Kupchak, “I think we all felt we would be better than where we are today. The injury part of it cannot be denied, but you are what your record says you are. To sit back and just do nothing probably wouldn’t have been the wise thing to do. I point to our owners Rick [Schnall] and Gabe [Plotkin] more than anybody. They wanted to be aggressive and didn’t want to just sit and assume that this team [as constructed] is going to be healthy next year. We didn’t think that was the way to go. Quite frankly, I think it was the thing to do and I’m glad we did it.”

Roster construction and winning in the NBA is a difficult, often lengthy, process and unfortunately, the Hornets’ current configuration simply wasn’t working out. But it’s way better to recognize these things now before it’s too late, which is exactly what the organization avoided with these recent maneuvers.

Continue Reading