Hornets Off-Season: Let’s make a Deal

Published: June 7, 2008

Now that I’ve talked about what the Hornets need,  who I’d like to see them go for if they keep the 27th pick of the draft, and what sort of Free Agents I would like to see the Hornets go after, I’ve finally reached the last part of my off-season preview – making trades.

If you’ve been keeping up with my previous posts, you’ve seen that I want the Hornets to hold on to their starting five, Pargo and Wright, and just work to get a backup Big man and possibly another wing.  Honestly, though Diop and Turiaf are intriguing as free agents, I don’t think either of them would perfectly fit our needs in the front court, and pretty much all you can hope for from a big man taken late in the draft is potential.  The Hornets best option is a trade.

Of course, to complete a trade, you have to give up something to get something, and while the Hornets definitely have assets, they don’t have many that it would make sense to trade – or that hold much value.   As I see it, they have a few assets: the 27th pick of the draft, Hilton Armstrong, and Mike James and Rasual Butler’s midsized, near-expiring contracts.  The 27th pick isn’t anything spectacular, but it does hold some value to a rebuilding team – as does Hilton, who still has enough athleticism to be intriguing.  James and Butler’s contracts are limited in value because the players attached to them aren’t very good– but to that group of teams seeking to clear space for the “free-agent bonanza” that will occur in 2010, they would be perfect.

With that in mind, I put together a list of people I’d like to see the Hornets go after.  Keep in mind, this list is only of people I think we have a hope in getting.  So, sorry, no “omg, we should totally trade Rasual Butler for Greg Oden, Lolz! That would roxxorz!”

My big men targets:

Nick Collison(PF, Seattle) for Rasual Butler, Hilton Armstrong, and the 27th pick
Player Description:
Collison is a tough power forward with strong rebounding skills and a solid mid-range jumpshot.  He has enough bulk to play Center if necessary.  His game reminds me a lot of PJ Brown in his last years with the Hornets.
Why Seattle would do it: Seattle is in a long-term rebuilding mode, and judging by moves they made last year, are clearly looking for a team that could begin to compete in three years.  Collison is a bit overpaid, and will turn 28 this off-season, and his contract will just be ending when their plan should kick in.  The trade would net Seattle a player that has a better chance to become an athletic center than any of their recent project center lottery picks of Robert Swift, Johan Petro and Mahmoud Saer Sene.  Rasual Butler could possibly  fill a need for perimeter shooting that they are sadly lacking, and his contract is shorter than Collisons, and they’d get the 27th pick to help start their rebuilding.
Why Seattle wouldn’t do it: Collison is their PJ Brown.  He’s a very good rebounder on a team that has no rebounders, and he plays within his own limitations.  He’s the only player on that team that can play the Center position at all.

Tyrus Thomas(PF, Chicago) for Hilton Armstrong, Rasual Butler and the 27th pick
Player Description:
Tyrus Thomas is a freak athelete with good rebounding and shot-blocking skills.  His offensive game is a little unpolished, but he can finish with style around the basket.  Can be a bit of a knucklehead.  Is fairly thin, and may have trouble backing up the Center position adequately.
Why Chicago would do it: Chicago has a sizeable stable of players now who deserve minutes at power Forward: Joakim Noah, Tyrus Thomas, Drew Gooden, and Andres Nocioni.(his best position is PF)  Despite his physical gifts, Tyrus has endeared himself to none of his coaches and is often the odd man out in the rotation.  Last season, there were talks about Hilton Armstrong, Rasual Butler and Julian Wright for Ben Gordon.  If Tyrus really has worn out his welcome, the above offer may solve some problems for them, giving them a true Center, a shooter they had at least some interest in, and again, the 27th pick.  If Chicago selects Beasley with the 1st pick of this year’s draft, there would be even more reasons to let Tyrus walk.
Why Chicago wouldn’t do it: Tyrus Thomas was the 4th pick of the 2006 draft.  Trading him for this package could appear to be admitting a mistake, something many GMs are loath to do.  Thomas is also clearly the most talented player in that package, and it would not surprise me to see him packaged in a bigger trade or for Chicago to get a better offer for his services.
Note: A lot of these same arguments can be made for Drew Gooden – who would also be a decent acquisition.

Leon Powe(PF, Boston) for the 27th pick
Player Description:
An energy and defense maniac, Powe has produced two very good seasons as a back-up Power Forward.  Great for rebounds, garbage buckets and pesky defense,  Powe is a little undersized, even for the PF position, and his ability to defend centers is very limited.
Why Boston would do it: Despite his stellar regular season, Powe completely lost favor with the Celtics in the playoffs, logging very few minutes at all.  With Glen “Big Baby” Davis showing the potential to be  valuable backup, Powe may be expendable.
Why Boston wouldn’t do it: Powe’s contract is the league minimum.  Keeping him around costs nothing substantial.  They’d have to really like a player at the 27th slot to do the trade.

Charlie Villanueva (PF, Milwaukee) for Rasual Butler
Player Description: I never thought I’d suggest bringing in Charlie, since I’m not a huge fan of his – or any of the players in Milwaukee for that matter.  Villanueva is a perimeter oriented power forward who takes a lot of three’s and deep twos and makes them at a poor percentage.  Has some post skills, and can score on the block if he desires to.  Defense is questionable, but his rebounding rate is very solid.  Could serve as a valuable second unit scorer if Pargo is cold.
Why Milwaukee would do it:  They already have a Charlie Villaneuva in last year’s draft pick Yi Jianlin, who will be taking minutes from Charlie this year.  Rasual Butler is a better shooter than most of the Small Forwards in Milwaukee, and an infinitely better defender than almost anyone on the entire team.
Why Milwaukee wouldn’t do it:  Milwaukee’s new GM is probably looking for a big splash and Charlie could be a valuable piece in a bigger trade.  Yi Jianlin did get injured this year, so Charlie is a good insurance policy.

Brian Scalabrine(PF, Boston) for Julian Wright and the 27th Pick
Player Description: The player known fondly as “Veal” by his team mates is exceptional on the floor, possessing a rock-solid post up game and a deadly elbow fadeaway.  His court vision is excellent and he can pick out cutters with impunity.  His defense is fast and aggressive.
Why Boston would do it:  They wouldn’t.  Veal rocks.  And I’m kidding, so stop writing that comment about me losing my mind.

The Pargo “Opting out and leaving” Trades
If Pargo opted out of his contract and was snatched up by another team, these are two people I’d like to explore trading for to replace him:

Randy Foye(Combo Guard, Minnesota) for Hilton Armstrong and the 27th pick
Player Description:
  A fast, aggressive player with solid driving ability and a decent  ranged stroke.  Doesn’t have the vision to be a full time point guard, or the size to be the perfect shooting guard, but as a top scorer off the bench and secondary point guard, would be an excellent pick up.
Why Minnesota would do it: Minnesota needs another long, athletic player to pair with Al Jefferson in the frontcourt, and they have no one at all to do so with.  The draft isn’t full of promising bigs either.  Hilton would help at center, and the pick would help their rebuilding process.  Foye, on the other hand, duplicates a lot of what Sebastian Telfair, Marko Jaric, and Rashad McCants bring to the table and if the Wolves go with someone like OJ Mayo or Bayless in the draft, Foye would be expendable.
Why Minnesota wouldn’t do it:  Foye is still a young player, the Wolves are rebuilding, and they may want to see more of where he’s going to go than obtain what the Hornets are offering.

Leandro Barbosa(Combo Guard, Phoenix) for Mike James, Hilton Armstrong and the 27th pick
Player description:  Rock solid deep shooter, and one of the fastest players in the league with the ball.   As a sixth man and scorer off the bench he’s without peer, though his defense is highly suspect.  As a backup point, he doesn’t have much of a distributers mentality.
Why Phoenix would do it: Because their owner hates paying lots of money and this team will frequently seek to unload salary.  Rumors out of Pheonix have both Barbosa and Diaw on the block, and really, at this point, no one is going to touch Diaw.  With this trade, they’d shed Barbosa’s long term deal for two shorter ones, pick up an athletic center who can run the floor, a backup PG who can maybe spell Nash a little bit, and have the 27th pick to sell to the highest bidder.
Why Phoenix wouldn’t do it:  Because Leandro is the best player in the deal, and they may be able to get a better package elsewhere for him.

Another random trade I kinda like:

Matt Carroll(SG, Charlotte) for Mike James and the 27th pick
Player Description: An excellent shooter from deep, Carroll is also surprisingly good at putting the ball on the floor, driving to the hoop and forcing contact.  Has a bit of tunnel vision when he gets the ball, but scores at a very high per minute, and is reasonably efficient doing so.  His defense is weak.
Why Charlotte will do it:  Carroll was given a contract, but then had his minutes cut when Jason Richardson was acquired from Golden State.  With Richardson and Gerald Wallace making a combined 20+million a year at the swing positions, Carroll’s contract, which averages 4.5 million a year may be deemed extravagant by a franchise with little money to spend, and a big extension for Emaka Okafor looming.  Mike James would fill the back up point guard role – something Charlotte has needed since they let Brevin Knight walk a year ago, and has a much shorter contract than Carroll.  The 27th pick will also help the ‘Cats continue to build.
Why Charlotte won’t do it: Carroll would be a good scorer off the bench for a good team.  They are trying to reach that status, and may feel they can get their soon enough that keeping him will be worth it.

So there you have it:  Some ideas that passed through my feeble brain over the last week.  This is by no means an exhaustive list of what I considered.  For example, I really wanted to try and figure out a trade for Francisco Garcia or maybe John Salmons of Sacramento or Haslem of Miami, but was unable to think of something acceptable.  Let’s hear your suggestions!

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