Our Bench is Full of Splinters

Published: December 19, 2007

Let's face it, our bench sucks.  While the second unit continues to be excellent defensively, anyone who watches the Hornets can tell they just can't score.  Armstrong, Wright, Butler, Jackson and Pargo score 1 point for every 1.2 points the opposing team scores.  That's obviously not supportable.

So I spent about an hour last night trying to figure out some sort of trade we could make that would improve our bench.  But we have a problem.  Our bench is so bereft of talent at this point we can't trade talent for talent, i.e. giving up a skilled guard for a skilled big man, or a shooter for a slasher.  If we are to get another player, we have to identify teams that are looking for something other than talent, we need teams looking for draft picks and/or short contracts that will come off their books soon.  It also means we aren't likely to pry good young talent like Josh Childress of the Hawks or one of the Portland guards from their teams.  We should instead look for these types of trading partners:

  • Teams that are right on the verge of blowing everything up and starting to rebuild.
  • Teams looking to avoid the Luxury Tax and wanting to shed pricey contracts for smaller/shorter ones.
  • Teams in a rebuilding mode looking to get rid of pricey veterans and pick up draft picks.

The first group are teams like New Jersey, Sacramento and Miami. Maybe Chicago and the Clippers.  Organizations that are looking to blow up their teams are more likely to let good veteran players go for little in return. (Think Vince from Toronto, Iverson from Philly, or even Baron Davis from the Hornets)  The problem is usually these teams cut loose their expensive talent and the Hornets can't afford to pick up big contracts.  Since little on those teams is a cost-reasonable upgrade for the Hornets anyways, and they'll probably wait until the offseason to nuke things, they're pretty much out as trading partners.

The second group are teams like Dallas, New York, San Antonio sometimes, Phoenix, Indiana, and Detroit.  But again we hit a snag. We aren't the best trading partners for these teams either.  They are looking for sizeable contracts that expire quickly, and are willing to give more talented players for those contracts.  The Hornets don't have any sizeable contracts that are expiring soon.  The closest is Bobby Jackson's deal with this year and the next remaining.  We could trade his 5.6 mil contract, but there aren't any players on those teams that I'm excited about that have contracts worth equal value.

The last group are teams like Minnesota, Seattle, and Philadelphia.  All of these teams are trying to start over, but carry a few players that don't really fit the rebuilding mold.  Philadelphia's veteran cupboard is bare.  We don't have a need for PG Andre Miller, their real trade chip, so they are out.  Minnesota has a few intriguing parts like McCants or Foye, but they are rebuilding around them.  If we wanted them, we'd have to take a really crappy player too like Antoine Walker or Mark Madsen, and in order to match their salaries we'd have to give up a starter.  No thanks.  So I ended up with Seattle, who also happens to be our opponent tonight.  And I found a trade I actually like a lot, and makes some sense for the Sonics as well.

We trade:
Bobby Jackson(5.6 mil, 1 more year)
Marcus Vinicius(700k, expiring)
2 2nd Round Picks

Sonics trade:
Delonte West(1.5 mil, expiring)
Earl Watson(5.8 mil, 2 more years)

The Hornets pick up Watson, who is a true backup point guard(6 assists a game in 27 minutes) and a tough defender.  Delonte West is a combo guard who is stuck in a numbers crunch behind rookies Durant and Green, and veterans Watson, Ridnour and Wilkins.  But West has proven to be a solid scorer and an excellent sixth man when he was in Boston.(45% career from the field, 36% from deep)  West is also 6'4", which gives us a backup shooting guard who isn't size-challenged like Jackson and Pargo.  We'd also have two D-Wests on our team.  Awesome.

The Sonics get Vinicius, who carries an expiring contract, though he's really a throw in to make salaries match.  They also get Bobby Jackson, who is a servicable veteran but carries a deal that is one year shorter and cheaper than Earl Watson's, allowing Seattle more flexibility sooner.  We toss in the 2nd round picks to sweeten the deal.  If they don't bite, offer them a first rounder next year.  If the Hornets play well, it'll be in the mid-20's and those picks have about 10% chance of giving you a good player.  I'd rather get Watson and Delonte.

The result is a second unit with a true playmaker(Watson), a good scorer(West), two good defenders and developing players in Wright and Armstrong, and two streaky shooters in Pargo and Butler.  Bowen, Haluska and Ely round out the group. That's a bench I could go for.

Oh – I doubt I'll do a Game Preview tonight, given that we just went against the Sonics recently.  Just know that they suck, and if we lose, we suck too.

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