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1 Ambitious Trade Target for Every NBA Team | News, Scores, Highlights, Stats, and Rumors

Written by on May 27, 2024

Brock Williams-Smith/NBAE via Getty Images

LaMelo Ball is either a complete bonkers or totally gettable trade option depending on who’s sermonizing about the topic. I lean toward the former, which means he’s perfect for this exercise!

This idea that the Charlotte Hornets should consider moving LaMelo and build around Brandon Miller is perhaps debatable. To me, though, it’s mostly weird. LaMelo and Miller are not on polar opposite timelines or functional redundant. If anything, they stand to optimize one another.

Worrying about LaMelo’s long-term contentment as Charlotte leans into a rebuild is fair. But again, it’s not like he’s on a warring timeline. He doesn’t turn 23 until August and is under contract, with no player options, through 2028-29.

Using LaMelo’s murky health bill as the impetus for the Hornets to shop him is probably the most sensible angle. His ankle injuries are adding up, and he’s appeared in just 58 games combined over the past two seasons.

That will scare off teams. It shouldn’t faze the Houston Rockets. They need someone who is more of a floor general than Fred VanVleet to weaponize the offense fully, and LaMelo has the off-ball stroke required to play off FVV, Amen Thompson and Alperen Şengün.

Settling on the framework of a package is fascinating stuff. The Hornets are positioned to prioritize future picks. Houston has plenty of those to dangle. (Shout-out, Brooklyn.)

Salary matching gets a little funky. The Rockets need to send out about $28 million to make the math work. Including two of Steven Adams, Jeff Green (non-guaranteed), Jock Landale (non-guaranteed) and Jae’Sean Tate (tea option) gets them past the halfway mark. Treating the No. 3 pick as actual salary later in the summer ($10.1 million) comes close to taking care of the rest. (It gets all the way there if Adams’ contract is involved.)

And yet, Charlotte will push for more than No. 3, future picks and afterthought salary. Would Houston include any one of Thompson, Jalen Green, Jabari Smith Jr., Cam Whitmore or Tari Eason to sweeten the pot? Smith and Thompson are probably no-gos. I’d draw a line on Eason to preserve the defense. Everybody else should be on the table if it means adding LaMelo to a core of Şengün, Thompson, Eason, Smith, FVV and Dillon Brooks.

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