Hornets Free Agent and Depth Chart Update
All summer long Hornets fans waited, speculated, and then waited some more for the franchise to open up it’s pocketbook. Finally, on July first the opening bell rang and the money started flowing out, for most teams anyway. A month later, the Hornets faithful were left with only the taste of Luther Head lingering on their breath, afraid to even open their mouths for fear of letting a realistic Chris Paul trade rumor in by accident.
Now that the Paul rumors have come and gone yet again, Hornets fans can continue to look to add pieces to a nearly complete puzzle. Monty Williams and company seem content to head into the season with the current roster, but there are still a few holes that need to be filled before the team can truly be called complete.
PG- Chris Paul- Feels nice to type that and know that it’s going to be true (knocks on wood).
SF- Peja still looks like he’s going to start the season on the court, which is a good thing as his ability to spread the floor with his three point shooting remains crucial in an offense that relies primarilly on the pick and roll.
PF- David West looks prime to have yet another above average season. He’s been remarkably consistent over the past three years, so don’t expect much of a change in his output. He did look particularly fired up at the end of last season, which would be nice to see out of the starting gate this year.
C- Okafor will be looking to prove on a sub-par first season with New Orleans.
PG- Collison is probably a top three backup at the point guard position this season. No worries here unless he’s traded.
SG- Finally, a piece of the puzzle that doesn’t come in a box from 2009.
Roger Mason, who played some big minutes for the Spurs last year, is still on the market. Like Thornton, he can fill in at point guard if injuries plague the team like in recent years. He’s a good outside shooter who excels in the clutch. Last year his three point shot fell off a bit, but in the two previous years he shot over 39 percent, while taking treys more often. (Gone to NY for a measly 1.4 million)
Michael Finley- I don’t really expect anyone to consider him, but he’s only 16 months younger than Monty Williams and we could make old man jokes about him. That’s worth signing him on it’s own.
Tracy McGrady- True, he’s not a great locker room guy, and his last few seasons have been, well, lacking, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t still some fight left in T-Mac. He’s aggresively trying to get signed by Chicago, but the smart money says they stay away. On a Hornets team he could get 10-15 minutes coming off the bench in relief of Marcus Thornton, or perhaps starting in a Mo-P type role. He would come fairly cheap (3 million or so), sells tickets, is still a decent defender, and wouldn’t make too many mistakes. Tough to say if he would be willing to come on board, but since he’s still available he’s worth mentioning.
Jerry Stackhouse- Right now Chad Ford has him as the 6th best free agent available, noting “Stackhouse may be 35 years old, but he had a bit of a resurgence for the Bucks last season. He may still have a little juice in those legs after all.” Whether or not that’s true the Hornets have really like having a very old shooting guard on the roster in recent years and Stackhouse fits that bill perfectly.
Maurice Ager- Ager was a member of the Hornets summer league team and did everything that was expected of a guy who has been in the
NBA four years. He wasn’t fantastic, but i didn’t want to tear my eyes out either. In the NBA he’s averaged 2.0 points and 6.1 minutes in 78 games played (four starts). Most recently he played with the Maine Red Claws of the NBA D-League, beginning in January of 2010.
Aubrey Coleman- Coleman played on the Hornets summer league team, scoring 57 points in his last four games on only 32 shots. Other than he’s scoring ability he’s not really an NBA ready player, and there are strong doubts that he ever will be. Last year he led the entire NCAA in scoring with 25.6 points per game. He also led team in rebounding (7.4 rpg) and steals (2.7 spg). Needless to say, he’s a scorer. His season high was 38 points at Tulane University, so perhaps he was born to play in New Orleans. (Coleman is in Turkey, thanks 420ftJesus)
And that’s all I have. Honestly I think Ager is the most likely options considering he was on the summer league team and the Hornets don’t seem likely to extend anyone more than a minimum one year contract.
SF- Quincy Pondexter and Julian Wright should battle for minutes at the small forward position. I wrote about this on the Daily Dime a while back, first saying:
The first-round pick continues to impress on the defensive end. He’s active off the ball and has shown the capability to stay in front of his man, something the Hornets desperately needed last season on the perimeter.
Under the tutelage of new coach Monty Williams, the Hornets are expecting an immediate contribution from Pondexter. Offensively, he’s a quality finisher and capable of cutting to the hole or hitting a pull-up jumper at an NBA level. Before too long, he should be in contention with Julian Wright to receive substantial minutes in relief of the aging Peja Stojakovic
LAS VEGAS — The New Orleans Hornets might have landed another young star in former University of Washington forward Quincy Pondexter. Despite shooting only 4-for-11 from the floor, the 26th pick was his usually efficient self in the 90-89 loss to the Wizards here Friday. He aggressively attacked the rim whenever possible. As a result, he drew enough fouls to finish with a respectable 16 points. His seven turnovers are a concern, but with Chris Paul or Darren Collison running the point, he won’t be handling the ball anywhere near as much in the regular season as he has in Vegas.
His offense, though, was only a side note to the defensive showcase he put on in the fourth quarter against the Wizards — and John Wall in particular. Through three quarters of play, Wall had dropped 29 points on an otherwise-porous New Orleans defense. That’s when the Hornets switched the 6-foot-6 Pondexter onto the 6-4 Wall. The rest of the way, Wall scored only two points and was noticeably less effective. Pondexter was able to keep Wall from using his crossover by utilizing his length advantage to shut down Wall down the stretch.
First-year Hornets coach Monty Williams was thrilled with Pondexter’s effort and admired the young swingman’s ability to guard all three perimeter positions. Pondexter’s potential aside, he’ll have to fight for minutes as a rookie.
“He’s not going to be given anything,” Williams said. “He’s a rookie. I’m a rookie. We’re both going to have to work hard.”
Fortunately for Pondexter, the Hornets don’t have many other options at the small forward position. His main competition for time, Julian Wright, was not at summer league, and Williams was noticeably displeased by his absence.
“It is what it is,” Williams said.
So if you can’t tell, I used to think that Julian was in prime position for the backup minutes, but after spending a week in Vegas my tune started to change. At this point I think that Pondexter has a really bright future. I don’t want to jinx it or anything, but I expect big things right away, especially on the defensive end.
PF- Songaila is still under contact and was decent last year in relief. Brackins should see a few minutes here and there, but don’t think that he’s going to come in and make an impact in his first year. Kevin Arnovitz writes-
New Orleans first-round draft pick Craig Brackins struggled on Sunday, but the breadth of his game still holds appeal. He can do a little bit of everything which, judging from his indecisiveness on the floor, might be the problem here in Las Vegas. Because he was dealt from Oklahoma City — a deal that wasn’t official until last week — Brackins had only one practice before taking the floor for the Hornets squad. “Craig has an NBA skill set as an offensive player: his ability to shoot the ball, his ability to face the basket and be effective, outstanding athletic ability, lateral mobility. These are all traits we think will allow him to be successful,” Hornets general manager Jeff Bower said. “The thing with young players is, the quicker they can find a source of confidence in one aspect of their game, the quicker they become a factor.” According to Bower, scoring the ball from mid-range and working the offensive glass are where Brackins can begin to build that confidence. “In these first experiences, focus on your strengths, get them established, feel good about them, understand your environment, then we’ll address areas of the game we feel can be expanded.”
I wasn’t as impressed since his go-to move is a jump shot, but that’s just my opinion after watching Darius Songaila do that for a year. Posey might see some time at backup PF too, but honestly, why would he be seeing time this year?
C- Aaron Gray. I think he’s a monster, but that doesn’t mean he is one. There are of course doubts as to whether or not Gray can handle the 10-15 minutes that will be required of him as the primary backup center. If the team does look to add a third center their options are rather limited, but here goes-
Etan Thomas- Big, old, and past his prime, Thomas could still provide value at backup center if he can stay healthy. It’s unlikely that he will take a minimum deal, and even less likely that the team will be willing to offer much more than that.
Jarron Collins- Never a good player, Collins had a bad season last year even by his standards. Still the team needs a third center and the price is right.
Rasho Nesterovic- What? A solid big man who doesn’t make lots of money, is seven feet tall, can play defense, and is decent offensively? I wouldn’t have believed it before I started this, but here he is. Rasho posted a 16.05 PER last year in somewhat limited time. He’s by far the best bargain on the market right now, and seems a perfect fit as a backup center. Yes. Yes. Yes. On the downside he can’t rebound, fouls a ton, and is pretty old. (In Europe).
Shaq- The Big Diesel in the Big Easy? Probably not, but he has ties to the area (Baton Rouge at least), he loves to party and do wild stuff, and New Orleans is the home of craziness. He can still produce and would probably enjoy playing with Chris Paul. Odds are slim that they are willing to pay him 3-4 million for a year, but he would sell tickets and entertain the fans, that’s for sure. If the team isn’t going to compete for a title, Shaq would be an excellent consolation prize. (Gone to Boston for the min)
And there you have it. Anyone else that I missed or you want to see given a chance? The team only has 12 players on the roster, which is technically enough, although most teams carry 14 or 15. Last year the lack of depth is what really did the season in. Let’s hope that management makes a move or two to assure the faithful that history won’t repeat itself.