Charlotte Hornets

Do Charlotte Hornets regret passing on Boston Celtics’ trade offer in 2015?

Boston Celtics President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge reportedly offered the Charlotte Hornets a package of draft picks for the ninth pick in the 2015 draft. The Hornets passed, instead selecting Wisconsin big man Frank Kaminsky.
Boston Celtics President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge reportedly offered the Charlotte Hornets a package of draft picks for the ninth pick in the 2015 draft. The Hornets passed, instead selecting Wisconsin big man Frank Kaminsky. AP

There is still curiosity among some Charlotte Hornets fans over what happened between this team’s front office and the Boston Celtics on draft night 2015.

Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge was looking to trade into the top nine, presumably to draft Duke’s Justise Winslow before the Miami Heat did at No. 10.

Ainge failed to convince the Hornets, or any team earlier in the draft order, to accept the package of picks he was offering that night. He discussed that with New England media after the draft, without saying just what he actually offered.

That was one of this week’s reader questions in the Hornets mailbag:

Q. Any insight on whether there is regret over the Hornets not taking the Celtics’ offer on 2015 draft night?

A. You are referring to the Hornets’ decision to select Frank Kaminsky ninth overall, rather than accept a trade offer from the Celtics.

To my knowledge, no one has reported precisely what Ainge offered. When I asked a source back then to explain all this, I received this analogy: That the Celtics wanted the Hornets’ dollar and were offering multiple coins in return; at the time, there was no way to determine whether those coins (future picks) would end up pennies, nickels, quarters or half dollars.

Trading down is typically a better strategy in the NFL than in the NBA. The talent can reduce quickly after the top 10 or so picks in an NBA draft. Trading, say, the seventh pick in the NBA for two picks in the 20s usually isn’t a good idea. In the NFL it might be, because there are so many more positions to fill.

Hornets GM Rich Cho has a slip of the tongue at start of first press conference for Malik Monk and Dwayne Bacon

Q. Any chance Kaminsky moves into a starting role this season?

A. There’s always a chance, but I’d be surprised if Kaminsky starts ahead of Marvin Williams at power forward. Williams is the superior defender and has dramatically more experience (861 NBA games versus Kaminsky’s 156).

Also, Williams doesn’t need the ball as much as Kaminsky does to be effective, so he fits with a starting group where guards Kemba Walker and Nic Batum dominate the ball and new center Dwight Howard will want his touches.

Williams wasn’t as good last season as the previous one, which was a contract year. But Williams is so solid, particularly keeping the defense organized.

Q. Will Howard set aside his ego and focus more on defense and protecting the rim? Do you think (coach Steve) Clifford can convince him of that?

A. Clifford’s previous relationship with Howard will help. Clifford was an assistant with the Orlando Magic and Los Angeles Lakers when Howard played for those teams. Howard says the two know how to be frank with each other constructively.

If you follow Howard on Twitter -- @DwightHoward – you’ll notice he’s motivated by critics, and he should be after being traded to Charlotte for so little, particularly Miles Plumlee’s awful contract.

Q. Do you think it’s time for a more offensive-minded coach (than Clifford) with the direction the league is going?

A. I definitely don’t. Last season’s team generated nearly 105 points per game, enough to win. They took a step back defensively, particularly in late-game situations. The bench was lousy and hopefully that was addressed by adding Howard (moving Cody Zeller to the second unit), rookies Malik Monk and Dwayne Bacon and point guard Michael Carter-Williams.

The jury is out on Carter-Williams, a former rookie of the year, but I believe his length will be really handy on defense. Howard gives them a rim protector they have lacked.

Q. Do you think (general manager Rich) Cho is seriously through trading?

A. I never assume the Hornets are through trading. It’s been their most successful roster-building tool back to Bernie Bickerstaff as coach-general manager with the NBA’s return to Charlotte in 2004.

The Hornets are close to the luxury-tax threshold and I don’t see them crossing that line. Player-for-player trades (of comparable salaries) is one avenue they still can explore.

Q. Is Kyrie Irving that much better than Kemba that he’d be worth giving up Kemba plus other assets?

A. Irving wants a trade out of Cleveland, but I doubt he’d be happier in Charlotte. Irving is better than Walker, but I don’t think substituting Irving for Walker would catapult the Hornets toward the Eastern Conference Finals.

Every time I think about Irving wanting to leave a team with LeBron James, it’s a "be careful what you wish for" moment.

Bonnell: 704-358-5129: @rick_bonnell