As of this writing, the Charlotte Hornets are seventh place in the Eastern Conference with an 18-19 win-loss record and are in the middle of yet another season where pundits expect them, at best, to sneak into the playoffs and lose in the first round. As such, the latest rumors suggest that the team is planning to shake up its roster by trading a few players, including former ninth overall pick Frank Kaminsky and veteran small forward Nicolas Batum.
Citing league sources, the Sporting News wrote on Thursday afternoon that Kaminsky, who becomes eligible for restricted free agency in the summer of 2019, is being shopped around by the Hornets, and has received attention from a number of teams, including some who are considered championship contenders. The publication added that at least one team has shown interest in acquiring Kaminsky if Batum, who has two years and $52 million remaining on his contract, is included in the deal.
As shown on his Basketball-Reference player page, Batum’s scoring has declined substantially in comparison to past seasons, as he is only averaging 8.8 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 3.4 assists for the Hornets.
In addition to Kaminsky and Batum, the Hornets are also reportedly looking to trade center Bismack Biyombo, who will be earning $17 million in the 2019-20 NBA season. According to the Sporting News, Biyombo could be a “tough sell” for other teams, considering he could also become a restricted free agent in the summer and hasn’t played a key role for Hornets head coach James Borrego. A former lottery pick who has mainly been used as a defensive specialist, Biyombo is currently averaging a career-low 2.5 points and 2.2 rebounds in 8.2 minutes per game.
As for Frank Kaminsky, the Sporting News speculated that trading him might not be ideal for Hornets owner Michael Jordan, who notably insisted on drafting him in 2015 and rejected the Boston Celtics’ offer of four future first-round draft picks to trade up for him. Furthermore, the publication pointed out how Kaminsky improved on defense under former Hornets head coach Steve Clifford after initially entering the NBA as a sweet-shooting big man who was named national Player of the Year in college.
Despite his improvements on the defensive end, Kaminsky is producing career-lows in most statistical categories, with averages of 5.6 points and 2.5 rebounds in just 11.6 minutes per game, and hasn’t benefited much from starting center Cody Zeller’s recent hand injury. According to the Sporting News, this lack of playing time and the need for a change of scenery could increase Kaminsky’s likelihood of getting traded by the Hornets, who have lost six of their last 10 games and are facing a “brutal” January schedule.