By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
The dust on an absolutely insane NBA free agency finally settled over the weekend, making a sign-and-trade between the Boston Celtics and Charlotte Hornets official.
In exchange for All-NBA guard Kemba Walker and a future second-round pick (the least favorable of Brooklyn and New York’s 2020 picks), the Hornets received guard Terry Rozier and a future protected second-round pick from the Celtics. The deal feels like an obvious win for the Celtics, all things considered, especially when talking about their ability to nab one of the market's top free agents in the immediate aftermath of losing both Kyrie Irving and Al Horford to division rivals.
But Hornets president and general manager Mitch Kupchak, who signed Rozier to a three-year deal worth $58 million, had a much different (in more ways than one) take on the deal from Charlotte's point of view.
“We feel like if he was in the draft this year, Terry Rozier would have been a lottery pick.” - Mitch Kupchak
— Charlotte Hornets (@hornets) July 7, 2019
I understand spinning a trade into a positive for your fanbase, but you really have a general manager out here saying that a player with 272 games of professional experience over four NBA seasons would have been a lottery pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.
This is downright incredible logic on the part of Kupchak, even if it might be the most insane thing I've heard all year.
Yes, Rozier absolutely would have been a lottery pick in a draft many pundits considered to be a weaker draft class once you got beyond the big three names on the board. And yes, the 25-year-old should be better at playing in the NBA than the children you're selecting in the first round. But you also do not give lottery picks $58 million out of the gate.
There has to be some additional context to this, right?
“We got lucky and we picked up a player that I believe would’ve been a lottery pick. I don’t know what we would’ve gotten [for Walker] a year or two ago," Kupchak said. "We had a great year with Kemba. He had his best year ever. I got to experience what kind of special person he is and that’s kind of a selfish way to look at it. We had a great shot to keep him and we didn’t keep him. It didn’t work out, but in return I feel we got a lottery pick in Terry Rozier.”
Ah, alright, I see what we're doing here: A Rozier-for-Walker swap is being justified with the belief that it's akin to trading Walker for a lottery pick. Forget the fact that you could have traded Walker at the deadline for multiple picks or players in the midst of a career year. Or that you could have signed Rozier, a player who was openly unhappy with his situation with the Celtics, for just money alone given his status as a restricted free agent this summer.
It all makes sense now!