Michael Porter Jr. could be a risk worth taking for the Hornets if he lasts to the 11th pick, writes Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer. Porter was among the top recruits in college basketball last year, but a back injury sidelined him for almost the entire season. He underwent surgery to remove a piece of bone that was placing pressure on a nerve and has declared himself to be healthy.
Porter has drawn comparisons to Kevin Durant, standing 6’10” with the skills of a small forward. If enough teams are scared off by his medical history, Porter could present new GM Mitch Kupchak with his first major draft decision since coming to Charlotte.
There’s more from Charlotte:
- The Hornets might be willing to ship Kemba Walker to Cleveland in a deal involving the No. 8 pick, but LeBron James‘ uncertain status makes the trade problematic, Bonnell notes in the same story. Dealing Walker, who has one year left on his contract, for a draft choice would help ease Charlotte’s cap situation, but the Cavaliers won’t know until July if James is leaving. The eighth pick becomes extremely valuable if Cleveland is facing a rebuilding project.
- Frank Kaminsky hasn’t done enough in three seasons to convince the Hornets he’s worthy of a long-term investment, Bonnell adds. The ninth pick in the 2015 draft has averaged 10.0 points per game since joining the team, and there are concerns about his rebounding and passing. Bonnell believes Charlotte wouldn’t hesitate to draft another power forward.
- Dwight Howard could be a buyout candidate if he’s still on the roster in February, Bonnell writes in a mailbag column. The veteran center will make more than $23.8MM in the final year of his contract.
- In the same piece, Bonnell puts the odds at 50-50 for free agents Michael Carter-Williams and Treveon Graham to return to the Hornets next season. An abundance of guaranteed contracts for wing players will limit Graham’s opportunity, while Carter-Williams is coming off an injury-plagued season in which he shot a career-low 33% from the field.