As several high-profile names seem to be coming off the board, NBA trade rumors have identified a new focus for multiple teams.
Rui Hachimura has already been traded. The Wizards seem to be broadcasting their willingness to keep Kyle Kuzma and try to re-sign him. Myles Turner has signed an extension with the Indiana Pacers. Bojan Bogdanovic has said the Pistons told him they have big plans for him next season.
Many of the trade targets we’ve been obsessing over for the past few weeks look increasingly likely to stay where they are and that means teams looking for depth and wing upgrades are looking in new places. According to The Athletic, several of them are beginning to hone in on Jalen McDaniels of the Charlotte Hornets.
According to Shams Charnia: “Forward Jalen McDaniels continues to be a name several teams like the Suns, Raptors, Jazz, Pacers and Spurs are closely monitoring, but the Hornets value the 6-foot-9 forward whom they have developed over the past four seasons. Teams with interest and cap space this offseason, such as the Jazz, Pacers and Spurs, may opt to wait until free agency to court McDaniels, who will be unrestricted, instead of trading an asset to acquire him now while having to compensate him in July.”
How could Jalen McDaniels help an NBA playoff team?
Even in a good year, the Hornets don’t get a lot of national attention. Since they’re one of the worst teams in the league this season, it’s not surprising that many fans don’t know a ton about McDaniels.
The long combo forward was a highly touted high school recruit but struggled in his lone season at Washington and fell to the Hornets in the second round of the 2019 NBA Draft. At 25 years old and in his fourth season, he has fully established himself in Charlotte’s rotation, averaging more than 20 minutes per game for the first time in his career and already starting more games this season than he did in the previous two combined.
McDaniels is averaging 10.8 points, 4.9 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.1 steals, in 27.0 minutes per game. He’s hitting an unspectacular 33.5 percent of his catch-and-shoot 3s, but he hit 38.0 percent last year and there’s reason to think he can be a decent floor-spacing threat.
McDaniels is also a very positive defender with the size and athletic tools to defend multiple positions. According to the NBA”s matchup statistics, the players he’s spent the most time as the primary defender on this season include Jayson Tatum, Desmond Bane, Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard and DeMar DeRozan.
As was mentioned in Shams’ article, the fact that he’s an unrestricted free agent may cool the trade market for McDaniels as interested teams opt to wait for the summer to pursue him. But as other wing players keep dropping off the board, the Hornets are going to have more and more leverage to try and make a trade.
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