The Trade Deadline Approacheth

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Published: February 19, 2008

Tomorrow night we commence the home stretch of the season after a highly successful All-Star extravaganza.  I think I can say that so far, this season has not only been amazing, but has surpassed even the most optimistic predictions.  Both Ron and I projected 48 wins for this Hornets team before the season, and my stats analysis prior to those predictions pointed towards 50, but we're currently on pace for 58 wins – with the point differential analysis pointing towards 55.  Our success has resulted in us fielding an impressive five different participants in the All-Star Weekend.(don't forget All-Star trainer Terry Koffler and what he did to . . . er . . for Peja) Another one of our players was included on most All-Star snub lists.  Yeah, man.

So you'll have to excuse me if I'm as happy as Ron during Mardi Gras.  Not only do I like our team, but I actually like the people who make up the team.  Just a fantastic feeling rooting for these guys. Now, it's likely that in a couple years, I'll be jaded, complaining about my team being knocked out in the second round, or calling out my team for being soft and wanting them to trade for some washed up veteran with more reputation than game.(Hello Kidd and Shaq) For now, I'm a happy fan.

That, of course, is why I'm also perfectly happy with the most likely outcome for the Hornets over the next few days prior to the trading deadline:  Nothing.

Don't get me wrong, I know our bench needs an upgrade.  I can't say the group is inconsistent, because they aren't – we can expect a few big games out of them, but most of the time we'll get good defense and no offense.  If we got a capable scorer to plug into that unit, it could help a lot.  I just don't think it will happen.

Kobe Loves him Some Ely

The teams that are willing to trade right now are of three varieties: Rebuilding, Desperate Contenders, or Stupid. 

The first set, Rebuilding teams, want immediate cap relief(i.e. large expiring contracts), young players, and/or draft picks.  In return, they are willing to give up veterans with contracts that last longer than their rebuilding plan is designed for.  These are teams like the Kings, Sonics, Grizzlies, and Heat. We have three problems dealing with these teams:

  • Poor Draft Picks – A negative impact of our success is that it has hurt the value of our draft picks – which now drop from the mid-teens(43% chance at a rotation player) to the mid-twenties.(27% chance at a rotation player)
  • No Expiring Contracts – The Hornets don't have any large expiring contracts.  Bowen and Pargo will probably be free agents this next year, but together they don't even make 2 million.  That's not gonna get you much.  Bobby Jackson is close – but his deal expires the following year.  He'll be a trade chip that has more value then.
  • Poorly Established Youngsters – Yes, Julian has promise.  Judging by the last month, Hilton shows a little too.  But neither have established that they will become anything – which means the offers we'll get for them will be lower due to the risk factor.
  • The Veterans on those Teams Suck – okay, this is a bit harsh, but do we really want to give up much for the likes of Kenny Thomas, Marko Jaric, Ricky Davis or Kurt Thomas?  How much are Mike Miller or Luke Ridnour really worth? They are on bad teams for a reason – so they need to be considered with a grain of salt.

The second set, Desperate Contenders, are gunning for one thing – that last veteran piece to a championship.  We have veterans.  We don't want to trade any of them.  These teams are willing to give up young talent for older, more established players that will put them over the top.  West, Paul and Chandler are our young core – so the only player on our team who could fit this bill is Peja Stojakovic.  It would have to be a tremendous young talent for us to want to trade him.  And that young talent would need a friend with a large contract to even make a trade possible.

The last set, Stupid teams, are teams like the Bucks, Bulls, or Knicks.  They've made bad, big money deals for mediocre players, and they are now stuck trying to get other teams to offer more than their players are worth so they don't look so stupid.  Of course, other teams won't bite, unless they are desperate.  We ain't desperate.  We could try to pry Ben Gordon(thanks Roland) or Jamal Crawford from them, but they're likely to demand too much or to try and stick us with their own dead weight.  No thanks.

Ben Gordon is Sad

That leaves us pretty much out of the trade market.  There are players like Mickael Pietrus or Delonte West who we could possibly make a run at – but they are free agents after this season.  Why give up assets to rent someone for part of a season when we'd then have to spend in the offseason to retain them?

I'm betting we stand pat, take a look at Chris Anderson if he's reinstated – and make a play in the offseason using Bobby Jackson.

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