© Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

No Deals Made, but Kupchak Remains Optimistic

The Clubhouse with Kyle Bailey
February 08, 2019 - 2:20 pm

Story Written By Jason Huber, Digital Content Coordinator 

Audio From In The Clubhouse Below. 

For the first time since the 2012-13 NBA season, the Charlotte Hornets didn't make a deal before the league's trade deadline. 

There were rumbles that Charlotte was close to completing a deal with the Memphis Grizzlies for three-time all-star center Marc Gasol, but it ultimately never came to fruition and Gasol was sent to the Toronto Raptors.

Currently sitting at seventh in the Eastern Conference with a 26-28 record, many fans were expecting a trade to improve the team's playoff hopes.

"You never really know how close you are (in making a trade). You think you're close but you don't know what the other teams are thinking," general manager Mitch Kupchak said. "We worked on two or three things that could help us this year and not jeopardize our future."

In the midst of a career year, the Hornets three-time NBA All-Star point guard Kemba Walker has carried Charlotte this season, with big games only coming from his teammates only coming in spurts.

But Kupchak went into the trade market with the mindset that the Hornets would be buyers, not sellers.

"If we made a move, it would be a move with players or with picks that we thought would improve our team's chances of making or advancing in the playoffs," Kupchak said. 

There were rumors that either shooting guard Jeremy Lamb, centers Bismack Biyombo and Frank Kaminsky, or small forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist would be on the move to give Walker another scorer/defender. 

"We don't have as much financial flexibility as other teams in terms of players with expiring contracts," Kupchak said. "Most of our guys with the exception of Kemba and Lamb, most of our guys are on multi-year deals. In this league, during the trade deadline and leading up to the draft and the summer, expiring contracts have a lot of value. That's a byproduct of the rules we deal with."

On Tuesday, reports said that the Hornets were in "strong talks" to acquire Gasol, but that Charlotte was rumored not to have been willing to give up their first-round pick and take on Gasol's hefty remaining two-year contract.

"Our fans have to trust in ownership and management when we're in the trenches," Kupchak said. "With opportunities, we will do the best we can to make a deal to improve the team. You don't want to make a deal that comes back to haunt you at a later date."

Mere hours before the 3 p.m. deadline, it was reported that the Hornets were aggressively working to trade Kaminsky. 

"We have to be careful to make sure we don't give away our assets and for a small market team, draft picks are very important," Kupchak said. 

No longer in Charlotte's rotation, Kaminsky tweeted after the report, creating speculation he was traded.

Ultimately, the Hornets were unable to get a deal done and Kaminsky becomes a possible buyout candidate.

"Frank wants to play. He is under contract for the rest of the year. Short of that, there have been no decisions made as to improve that situation," Kupchak said. "He wants to play in the league for a long time and I don't see any reason why he shouldn't. I'm open to any kind of discussion with Frank or his representatives. Whatever needs to be addressed will be addressed."

While no trades were made, Kupchak still believes Charlotte is a playoff team and they have the right pieces to be one. 

"We're not in a teardown, reset, rebuild mode," Kupchak said. "We think we can win with the players we have. We're still in the hunt with a playoff spot, and that's our hope. We do have a couple of young players here that bode well for our future. We do have all our first round picks. We have multiple, second-round picks. Even though it's the second round, you can get a player or two that not makes our team but contributes."

Despite not making any trades, signing a player from the buyout market remains a possibility to add some more depth and experience.

“I think the biggest question we have to answer internally when reviewing a (veteran) who is available is 'will that player take away from the development potentially of some of our other players?', particularly our younger players," Kupchak said.

As the Hornets will continue the rest of the season with relatively the same roster, Kupchak remains good about not making any deals.

"I've been through a lot of these and I always feel the same way, but sometimes the deal you don't make is the best deal," Kupchak said. 

Comments ()