Jumpman, Jumpman, Jumpman, that Michael Jordan is up to something.
He has to be right? Otherwise how else would you explain Jordan's decision making in the 2022 NBA Draft?
Armed with the No. 13 overall pick, Jordan and Charlotte Hornets general manager Mitch Kupchak selected dynamic Memphis big man Jalen Duren but then reportedly opted to trade him in a three-team deal involving the Detroit Pistons and New York Knicks.
The trade was puzzling for many reasons as uncertainty surrounding the initial reporting. But after the dust settled, it became quite clear that the Hornets traded a current lottery pick for a first-round pick four years from now and four second-round picks.
Again, why did Jordan, who is the majority owner of the Hornets and is without a doubt one of the greatest to ever play, decide to make this type of deal?
Let's break it down.
Hornets 2022 NBA Draft Trade
After selected Jalen Duren No. 13 overall, the Hornets reportedly traded the center to the Detroit Pistons in a three-team deal involving the New York Knicks. The Knicks then sent former All-Star point guard Kemba Walker to Detroit in a deal that included Duren.
Here's how the whole reported trade breaks down:
I don’t have all the details of the second-rounders the Knicks are sending to the Hornets, but the Knicks were plus-8 in secound rounders.— Fred Katz (@FredKatz) June 24, 2022
Was told the Hornets trade includes at least one of their own and at least one of the Utah ones, which would be either 2023 or 2024.
If the 2023 DET first doesn't convey in 2027, it becomes DET's 2027 second rounder.— Jake Fischer (@JakeLFischer) June 24, 2022
If the 2023 WAS first doesn't convey in 2026, then it becomes Wizards' 2026 and 2027 seconds.
if the 2023 DEN first doesn't convey by 2025, then it becomes Denver's 2025 and 2025 seconds. https://t.co/w9MyjiCGcd
Why did Jordan's Hornets trade Jalen Duren?
Mitch Kupchak, who used to run the Lakers front office and is now the President of basketball operations and general manager in Charlotte, is really the person who actually traded Duren on draft night but as the owner of the team, Jordan has the final say.
And since he has the final say, it's pretty safe to say that Jordan okayed the deal.
According to Kupchak however, the Hornets traded Duren because it didn't help the team to have that much young talent on the roster. And no, that's not an exaggeration.
Mitch Kupchak on trading #13:— Hornets Culture 🐝 (@hornetsculture) June 24, 2022
“As a small market team, we have to continue to take swings in the draft but we didn’t feel like taking both picks was prudent.” pic.twitter.com/o3QhgLCLSw
The Hornets did also have the No. 15 pick in the draft and selected big man Mark Williams. But really, the Hornets traded Duren and received future picks in return because they wanted to have some financial flexibility this offseason.
For the Hornets, re-signing Miles Bridges, who is a restricted free agent this summer, is a big priority. Bridges has emerged as a key piece on the Hornets, having a seemingly natural affinity with LaMelo Ball and showing possible All-Star potential.
By trading away Duren, the Hornets freed up some cap space, albeit a rookie scale contract, and could now potentially match any contract Bridges signs elsewhere as a restricted free agent or just re-sign him themselves.
Of course, Charlotte's short-term preference for Bridges, over the long-term potential of Duren may cause some head-scratching. But what else is new with Michael Jordan's Hornets, who have only made it to the playoffs three times since he bought the team in 2010.
Jordan may very well be the GOAT. But as an owner, he remains the actual living embodiment of the Crying Jordan meme.