Trading For the Future

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Published: January 20, 2010

It’s pretty clear that the Hornets aren’t going very far this season.  It’s just as clear that the Hornets need to clear out some of the dead weight they have at the wing positions.  Now, I’m not one of those people howling to “blow it up now”.  The Hornets are already out of the running for a top 4 pick in the draft (required for quick rebuilding) and unless a pretty special offer comes up between now and the deadline, it is usually better to wait until the off-season to make trades, so the new team can come in and gel in training camp.  However, there is still the fact that the Hornets need to drop another half-million in salary to be able to get under the Luxury Tax Line and qualify for a $4.5 million payout by the league at the end of the season.  Most have assumed that the Hornets will simply pay some team under the Tax line to take a minimum contract like Bobby Brown, Devin Brown or Ike Diogu and call it a day. 

Personally, I’d like to see something less now-focused, and more future-focused.  The Hornets need two things: capable wing players with ball-handling talent, and a young big who could turn into something.  Trading for those sorts of assets, however, aren’t really possible without the Hornets giving up 1st round picks or players like West or Okafor – or Thornton/Collison.  Unless, however, the Hornets were willing to take on a little risk at the same time. 

If that’s the case, the Golden State Warriors may present a few options.  They are desperate for bodies at the moment, and dealing with more injuries than is reasonable.(They actually dressed 8 players and had 4 players foul out the other night, which invoked a rule I never heard of – the last player to foul out remains on the floor, but every foul he commits gives the other team free throws AND a technical free throw.)  Now, the Hornets aren’t going to land any of their big guns like Ellis, Curry or Randolph.  Not without giving up something important.  They could, however, target two of their injured players – players who duplicate skills already available to the Warriors – and offer up two  players that could provide the Warriors with something they need.

I’m thinking James Posey(plus Bobby Brown for salary purposes) for Kelenna Azubuike and Brandan Wright.

The Warriors get Posey – a SF/PF hybrid of the type they like – able to hit threes, rebound a little and defend multiple positions.  They’d be able to shift Maggette to the SF again, and play Posey immediately as their power forward.

The Hornets get two risky players that will be of little help this year, but may help fill holes next year.  Azubuike is a solid swingman, but he’s done for the season.  Next year, however, he will still be only 27 and could combine with Thornton to upgrade the shooting guard position.  Brandan Wright is also injured and probably out for the entire year.  As a Warrior he’s battled injuries his first two seasons and Don Nelson’s inexplicable disdain for forwards who don’t want to be guards(Wright and Anthony Randolph, specifically) but is only 22 and has played well in the few minutes he has gotten.

Does it hurt the Hornets this year?  Yeah, a little.  It’ll force Julian Wright into more playing time – which is, as usual, both good and bad.  Still, I think this is the sort of deal the Hornets should be looking for.  Something to help next year and beyond.  Not just this year.

Thoughts?  Other low-profile targets you like?  Oh, and the first person to say Chris Bosh or LeBron James will have to watch Two Girls, One Cup.  (Don’t worry, it’s not the actual video.  Just a funny(though vulgar) song about it that you should watch.)

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