Before Making Next Move, Hornets Must Determine Who They Are Chasing

By:
Published: November 11, 2010

There is a tidal wave coming to the Western Conference, and with it there will be a shift in the balance of power. That wave is moving slowly, but make no mistake, someday it will be here; and that day might be sooner than later. The wave brings with it bright new stars in Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, Tyreke Evens, Russell Westbrook, and others poised to replace living legends like Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, and Dirk Nowitzki at the top of the standings. This wave might not get here for another two or three years, but it will arrive, and that is why the Hornets must figure out who it is that they are chasing- the old guard or the up and comers.

Now that the Hornets are the feel good story of the day again, ESPN and other sites are pumping them up (one can assume that this will last until it is more profitable to tear them down). A recent story claims that the Hornets are still working the phones, looking for that final piece to the puzzle. Names like Kevin Martin, Rip Hamilton, Gerald Wallace, and Andre Iguodala have been throw around, with the assumption being that those teams will take Peja’s expiring and perhaps one of our two guards in return.

There is another route the Hornets can take, however. This route would address the Hornets most glaring immediate need- backup center. Instead of a two guard, the Hornets could look to acquire a Samuel Dalembert, Andries Biendris, or Nazr Mohammad with Peja’s expiring. Some would say that if the Hornets are serious about competing with the Lakers and their three talented 7 footers, that adding size is a necessity.

Long term, however, adding a premium shooting guard might be what is best for this team. Marco Belinelli, Willie Green, and Marcus Thornton will all be free agents this summer and while they are all quality player, none of them have the resumes of the players mentioned as trade possibilities. While trading for a backup big might prove to be short sighted in the long run, adding an All-Star caliber two guard can give the Hornets an imposing starting five for the foreseeable future.

Because of the Lakers size, however, it is unlikely that adding a Hamilton or an Iguodala will get the Hornets over the hump this year or perhaps even next year. But eventually age will catch up to Kobe Bryant, Lamar Odom, and Derek Fisher, meaning that LA won’t necessarily be the team to go through in the Western Conference. Long term, the team that the Hornets will have to measure up with will likely be the Oklahoma City Thunder, a team that has all of its star power on the wings. They are a team that is built to be contenders for the remainder of this decade, as all of their key pieces are under the age of 25.

Adding a Dalembert or Mohammad this season, just to let them go in the offseason does little to help the Hornets in the long run. Similarly, adding players like Rip Hamilton or Stephan Jackson would shrink the Hornets window considerably, considering that both players have only two quality seasons in them before they remind us all of Posey, Peja, and/or Mo Pete.

The Hornets find themselves at a crossroads of sorts, and they must choose a path before the February trade deadline. If they believe that LA can be had this year, then they can worry about the future later and make the moves necessary to dethrone the Champs. Or they can look beyond this season to the rest of the decade and take the route that is best for the organization long term.

Realistically, history shows us that a team has to go through a couple of seasons of playoff adversity before they emerge champions. That lesson would advocate that the Hornets take the long-term approach; add an Iggy or Kevin Martin and take your lumps this year and possibly next before finally dethroning LA. But if we are talking about being realistic, it was not realistic to think this Hornets team would start 7-0. There is something special about this team, and as we all saw after the 07-08 season, tomorrow is never guaranteed. Sometimes when you have a shot, you’ve gotta take it. Future be damned.

59 comments
Robin
Robin

I strongly disagree with this article's premise that the wing is a greater need for us in the long term. Last I checked our two starters there are 24 and 25, and doing a solid job. And we have solid young depth there with guys like Thornton and Q-Pon. Our starting bigs are 30 and 28, without much depth or future stars being groomed. As the Lakers have shown, there's not much waste in having 3 great bigs on one team. So injury and age aside, we would benefit from more talent at the 4/5. But given our relative lack of youth and depth up front, the need there is even greater. On the perimeter, adding more talent is a more complicated matter. Slashers and ballhandlers (who are often the biggest names) can end up competing for possessions rather than complementing each other. A team built around Chris Paul is essentially maxed out on those skills, and needs wings with other skills -- above all shooting and defense. A secondary ballhandler can be a nice luxury as long as that player is completely unselfish and already has the complementary skills. With that being said, I favor pursuing a big man but it makes more sense to look at the players who might be available in light of our team needs. I think Dalembert, if we can get him, would be a great choice. Contrary to this article's implication he is not old, but 29. And defensive centers like him tend to be especially effective into their low 30's and beyond -- look at Marcus Camby, Brendan Haywood, Mutombo, etc. Can we get him? I don't exactly see how, but I'd like to try a deal like this where we also take Francisco Garcia off their hands for basically cash: http://games.espn.go.com/nba/tradeMachine?tradeId=2caqocn Another guy to look at is Chris Kaman. Big, young enough, has defensive potential as a rebounder/shot-blocker, and offensive skill in the post. Also pretty superfluous on the young Clippers with Blake Griffin manning the post. They might be interested in him for Peja straight up to save money next year. He could help us right away off the bench, and be decent injury insurance for Meka and West. Some other trades to consider for guard and PF depth (with bad teams who might want to save money): http://games.espn.go.com/nba/tradeMachine?tradeId=28ogo9q http://games.espn.go.com/nba/tradeMachine?tradeId=274nnc6 And finally the Knicks raise an intriguing possibility. They seem certain to get Carmelo at least by next summer, but if they can't get him this season they may need to clear some cap space. Trading Gallinari and Randolph would be pretty much the only way for them to do it. Taking those guys off their hands would be great for our size and long-term prospects: http://games.espn.go.com/nba/tradeMachine?tradeId=22rmgpf I also disagree with the premise that our moves should depend on which team we decide to chase. The Lakers didn't get Pau Gasol to match up with any team in particular (they already had a big talented froncourt with Odom and Bynum and no other team had that many talented big men), but that move still helped them beat all challengers for two years. Whether our strengths match our opponents strengths or their weaknesses, they still help us win the game. However, it is relevant to consider the timeline in which we want to compete for a championship.

L_Reazy
L_Reazy

The way I rank em' as best fits for the Hornets (not by who has the most talent): (1) Hamilton or Jackson (2) Iguodala (3) Wallace (4) Martin

David
David

That's easy. Deal Peja and change for Iguadola. Sign Erick Dampier, who is still available as a free agent. It that's not enough, find a way to make a deal for one of Sacremento's big men as well, either Carl Landry or Jason Thompson. Both should be available as Thompson has fallen out of the rotation and Landry is struggling. With Sacramento struggling as well, we should be able to pry one of these guy away relatively inexpensively. Use Pondexter and Thorton as trade bait. I love Q-pon but if we have to deal him we have to deal him. Hopefully we don't have to. C: Okafor - Dampier - Mbenga PF: West - Landry - Smith SF: Ariza - Green/Iguadala SG: Iguadola - Belleneli PG: Paul - Bayless That's a team that can challenge in the short and long term. With the addition of Dampier (a true 7 footer who rebounds and plays D) and Landry, Our bigs will be able to compete with the Lakers. Iguadola makes our perimeter defense downright nasty. We may give up only 80 ppg with that lineup (OK, maybe not that good but real good none the less).

latenite504
latenite504

A most interesting angle on the Peja trade question. Assuming we are not falling for fools gold in assessing the current team (a fairly large IF considering the number of guys currently performing above their previous level), I think they can make a move for one of the aging star 2s, bring in some better bench 5 help, and contend for the title this year and the next two. Thats about as big a window as you ever get. Since West is already 30 and CP3 is showing the wear and tear, it makes no sense to shoot for a longer window. It doesn't matter who else is out there, you have to take the shot for a ring whenever you get the chance. Right now, the Lakers are kings of the West, but the rest of the field looks beatable. OKC, Sac, Memphis are only getting better, so no sense waiting. I worry about Iguodola's lack of shooting messing up the offense. The 2 really needs to space the floor and for all his defense and slashing, he does not space the floor. And the big contract... I like Stephen Jackson. He is a tough guy with championship experience. Hornets could use his edginess on the court. He plays good D. Has not caused too much trouble lately, plus he is perfect for the weak side wing when they run the pick and roll. He will hit the big three, with people in his face, or handle and dish. Very durable. He is 32 and has 2 more years at about 9 mil per year. Not too bad. And he can play along with Ariza perfectly. I think Peja and Thornton (who I guess isn't going to play for the Hornets anyway) for Jackson AND Nazr Mohammed (expiring) works under the cap. Maybe the 2 - 6 Bobcats decide to dump salary? Of course I'm not convinced Thornton can't give this team all the scoring it needs to take it over the top....

ollie
ollie

SLOWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW DOWNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNN If my memory serves me correctly the 7 hornets game Ive watched this year we have all won? Do we really need to talk trades months away from the deadline??? 7 games is a small sample space, I even remember Devin Brown being picked up off his couch provided 7 or so quality games in his first days as a hornet... One thing I do agree in is, going after an older 7 footer is useless, yess the Lakers are big but if meks keeps playing as he is and David "hayleys comet" West keeps showing on screens who says they cant minimise the damage of the bigs from LA. Marco Belinelli is to Paul as robin was to batman, Im a european basketball fanatic and seen lots of cookies, he use to shoot almost all his threes from straight away and the corner, and hit twos curling off screens baseline or on the elbows. I have seen him shooting ALOT of 3s from the wings (open) but once he becomes accustomed and makes it "his spot" it will become automatic and he will only get better, plus the guys D against wade was awesome. If im going to pick a name of those mentioned to trade for it is Gerald and 2nd place goes to iggy hops. Gerald could help the hornets in small ball (at the 4) and between Trev, Cookies and Gerald we have the 2/3 sure up with minutes to spell david also coming from Gerald. Ignore that last paragraph I just wanna see marcus dunk on him in training

L_Reazy
L_Reazy

I believe Rip Hamilton is a perfect fit for the Hornets. He has 2-years left on his contract like Chris Paul does ... so, if he becomes James Posey in a year or two he'll already be off of the books by then. He can run that 'curl-play' that Belinelli runs in the middle of the lane from the sides, and he can either drive all the way to the rim like Marco usually does, or pull-up right in the middle of the lane like he usually does for Detroit, or he'll pump fake in the lane and get to the foul line too. He's still excellent coming off-screens; probably the best from the list of players presented above. He still also plays tough, sound 'team-defense' which is evident during the Pistons Larry Brown days when they had other capable team defenders along with him. I'll state it again ... he is an excellent team defender, not one-on-one defender; when there are other capable team defenders along with him ... which we have on the Hornets! Since Peja Stojakovic and Marcus Thornton will not be re-signed after this season ... If the Pistons wanted Peja and Thornton for Rip Hamilton and Ben Wallace would you accept that deal if you were Dell Demps? F-West, F-Ariza, C-Okafor, G-Hamilton, G-Paul F-Smith, F-Belinelli, C-Wallace, G-Green, G-Bayless L_Reazy

Robin
Robin

Is Rip still a good defender at his age? Do the Pistons have a good team defense? I honestly don't know, but am skeptical given how bad the Pistons have been in recent years.

Schmide234
Schmide234

i cant see us making a move for rip hamilton. it just seems like a usless move. that means that in two year we would def have to find ANOTHER player to fit in and that not wat demps is looking for. I see him finding a young to middle age quasi (or reserve) allstar who can be the third offensive option for the hornets and be another strong defender at the 2 spot. Also as far as backup bigmen go, smith has been playing well enough that we dont seem to need one that much. were 7-0 and both Emeka and West average around 30min a game when they could easily do 35. Demps knows that 10-20 of a good defensive big wont put us over the edge like 30 min of a allstar SG.

HiMyNameisSteven
HiMyNameisSteven

no dont like and rip isnt a good defender he benefited from having big ben and tayshaun there to help him out

HiMyNameisSteven
HiMyNameisSteven

.... confused a little bit. he is not a good defender as in he doesnt help his team defend. tayshaun and ben are great help defenders which make up for rips lack of defensive prowness. he isnt a good team defender the other guys are which make up for a bad defender as rip is

L_Reazy
L_Reazy

"Tayshaun and Ben were there to help him" ... 'HiMyNameisSteven' That's what I mean ... he is a good team defender ... as in team defense! He isn't a one-on-one defender ... but neither is Marco or Marcus. As a matter of fact I wouldn't include Marcus in any trade if he were a better team defender like Marco is. ... but understand what I mean by team defender ... as in team defense ... and you seem to agree with what I'm saying since you mentioned Ben Wallace and Tayshaun helped him become a good team defender for the Pistons. L_Reazy

Hornet
Hornet

If we somehow land Iggy (which I'm not expecting unless we SOMEHOW get another team to take Brand), do you think it'd be such a terrible idea to have him as a 6th man? 16 minutes at both the SG and SF positions on average and have him come in for Ariza for his first sub.

JCS
JCS

Iggy's renegade style won't mesh with the Hornets offense IMO. As for Kevin Martin, why would H-Town want to trade such an asset? Dude is a scoring machine.

Icebird
Icebird

The thing with being on a winning streak is that it isn't immediately obvious where the potential holes that need to be filled (at least to me, who gets to see the Hornets on TV about once a year). So for the sake of argument - what if we don't trade Peja? What if we just let his expiring contract *gasp* expire? It seems like we've been waiting years for the contract to be a asset rather than a noose around our necks, and I wonder if we'll find out its worth a lot less than we hoped it would. Having finally got rid of most of the millstone contracts that were constraining what we could do, I'd hesitate to take on another expensive contract like Iggy's when we have a competent (if not necessarily world-beating) option at SF already.

Schmide234
Schmide234

why not Kevin Martin? explosive scorer who would only need to play 30 min. at worst hes just a super polished marcus thornton who can play solid defense. Hes a killer shooter and would compliment paul well i believe.

Hornet
Hornet

He doesn't play solid defense. He's just a glorified Marcus Thornton at 10 million a year. No thanks.

winze
winze

We need a 2 guard who can shoot the 3, that is the best fit and why Marco works atm. Iggy is a great player but he is not the right fit for this team. We would be better off with a defensive 2 guard who can shoot the 3 like many teams in the NBA use.

MaxALM
MaxALM

I read Broussard's speculative piece on possible Hornets targets as well. I'd have to say that I would probably poison the earth's water supply if we traded for a guy like Rip Hamilton. That would just be absolutely counterproductive when looking at what we have built so far since Demps moved in. I really hope there is no truth to that prospect. Hamilton is just a "name" who doesn't actually have anything left in the tank. We'd be another great team "on paper" but that's all facade, with nothing to show for it in reality. Iggy would be nice, but Joe I agree, him and Ariza are too identical as wings to have an effective starting five. No real 3-pt threat would hinder the offense for long stretches I think.

JCS
JCS

@McNamara If I might add, every center on the Atlantic Hawks is a free agent in 2K11, with Horford being the only one restricted. The others go as follows: Jason Collins @ $854,389 Josh Powell @ $854,389 Etan Thomas @ $854,389 Perhaps we could do a three-way trade that would ship out Gray and Peja, and then land us Powell. Quite frankly, I don't care who the other teams get, just as long as we dump Peja's contract and Gray's pine-ready keester.

HiMyNameisSteven
HiMyNameisSteven

horford signed an extension a little back i am pretty sure

JCS
JCS

You're right again. When Bowser signed Gray to the team. He paid him in funnel cakes and pop corn machines :-p

JCS
JCS

Thanks Steve-O. You're right. I totally forgot about that. However, no matter what his agreement is with ATL, we can't afford his price tag. Furthermore, I think Powell and Thomas could do a better job than Gray ever could, considering Gray is good at nothing.

Mazon
Mazon

I would love to have Andries Biendris! I don't know why he is on a list with Nazr and Dalembert (although I wouldn't complain if we got any of them). I see biendris as a younger much more athletic center that has a future past the next 5 years. Not sure why the warriors would give him up but they have always been suckers for young athletic talent, ie marcus. Why not get our own core of big men to dominate teams like OKC and Miami? I loved watching okafer dominate the heat!!! :-) And we already have proven to have solid perimeter defense. With monty coaching pondexter up and already having ariza, cp3, belinelli, green, and bayless are defense will be just find. Just cause the Lakers stars get old and start collecting social security doesn't mean we can't steal their formula for success. (except for the obvious that its EXPENSIVE.....)

James Online
James Online

The NBA plus/minus stats show two individual Hornets in the top echelon so far this year: Chris Paul and Marco Belinelli: http://www.nba.com/statistics/plusminus/plusminus_sort.jsp?pcomb=1&season=22010&split=9&team= Belinelli led the Raptors in this statistic for the entire season last year. Teams play better with him on the floor. It's not just the quantifiable indices that make a difference. Marco plays comprehensively. The Hornets' starting lineup is fourth in plus/minus among all NBA teams.

James Online
James Online

Steven: Kidding or not, you are wrong about Marco's +/- last year. Do you have any data to back up your claim his plus performances were against poor competition? Marco did not play much in garbage time at all last year. And when he was with the Warriors, he was the one guy who could bother big two guards, including Kobe Bryant. If you isolate on Marco on D you will get a much better idea of what he does out there. He has been closing out exceptionally well on shooters, switching well, calling switches, and helping nicely. He anticipates well and gets there. Look again. I'm not saying he's the quickest or never gets beat, but let's not mislead about the way he plays defense. Never loses focus and works hard.

HiMyNameisSteven
HiMyNameisSteven

marco had highest plus minus on toronto last year cuz he would come in during garbage time since his team was always out of the game after the half so he got to get in there when the others teams had huge leads.

42
42

It was sub par, not a shutdown. An article somewhere after that game broke it out in a table nicely and I was surprised. I'm all about bashing the Raptors; I only liked Bosh.

HiMyNameisSteven
HiMyNameisSteven

never said anything about this year was just trying to make a joke about how bad the raptors were and that for some reason they didnt see his talent that he has brought and fit so well with our team this year.... but honestly it was one game and marco didnt shut him down (i dont think anyone really can though) and ive actually been able to watch all the games this year and i have seen many times where marco has been slow to recover and given up quite a few open looks from deep... but he does try hard and does a decent job of staying in front of people just i think he needs to be quicker and better at anticipating rotations

42
42

If you are right, how does that fit with play this year where Wade was held to very subpar numbers against him while Wade performed well in the same game against other of our starters? Yes, this year.

Joe Gerrity
Joe Gerrity

Gerald Wallace is by far my favorite player on that list. Nope, I wouldn't. Marco's D has been key to this team, and Chris Paul needs a three point shooter in the lineup to keep the defense honest. Kopono is worthless on one end of the court and probably wouldn't see a minute under Monty Williams. A third big man tops my list, preferably a defensive minded one.

Robin
Robin

Joe is right. Team fit is crucial, especially in the backcourt where CP's talents demand a certain role. Belli may not be a big-name player, but a "star" who needs the ball in his hands is largely wasted next to Chris. And as Joe said, having deep shooters is essential to the offense (on any team really, but especially with Chris). In Belinelli the Hornets have a great (and pretty rare) combination of elite shooting and defensive competence. The team can't and really shouldn't ask much more from a starting 2. Ariza fills the role of dynamic wing defender/transition athlete (and it helps that he's still an OK 3-pt shooter). Iggy/Ariza may sound good as a powerhouse wing combo on the break, but the truth is that the fast break does not account for much of any team's offense - especially against good opponents. If it did, the Miami Heat would be 8-0 right now. Of course, if Ariza gets hurt, then having Iggy becomes a necessity.

HiMyNameisSteven
HiMyNameisSteven

@ joe- you wouldnt take iggy for basically belly? we arent resigning peja and kapono wouldnt be in our long term plans sooooo ur basically saying iggy for belly is a no? i think marco's D and 3 point shooting can be EASILY replaced with even a guy on our team (UHH Marcus) why wouldnt u take this its a steal

HiMyNameisSteven
HiMyNameisSteven

are you more against iggy at the 2 or ariza at the 2... cuz gerald wallace will force ariza to the 2 and personally i like having ariza at the 3 it works best since he can stretch the d even more when we have 2 deep shooters to let d west get his mid range game and emeka some space down low. I think we need to stand pat on our backcourt and focus on a big to spell emeka, because the thing is when tou think about it even though our start has been great...if emeka goes down so does our season

Joe Gerrity
Joe Gerrity

The more I think about this, the less I believe myself.

HiMyNameisSteven
HiMyNameisSteven

the way i see it is from an offensive standpoint: iggy and ariza running the wings would lead to the best fast break offense with cp3 at point. iggy can crash the offensive boards and is an adequate 3 point shooter along with ariza. defensively i havent seen a ton of the 76er games but i cant imagine iggy being a downgrade on defense if he puts in effort since he is so long and athletic i agree with your point though that ariza and iggy are similar and they might not be the solution at the 2 guard so from that standpoint your probably right that iggy isnt a need. good talent but dunno if hed fit well with what we already have... i think with that along with his huge long term contract i have decided against getting iggy

Joe Gerrity
Joe Gerrity

I honestly think that Belinelli is a better fit at the shooting guard spot for the Hornets. The way that Paul operates it's just so so crucial to have a three point shooter on the floor for spacing. Ariza and Iggy just aren't number one guys in that regard. For whatever reason I just think that Iggy and Ariza are a little too similar. I'm also just loving Belinelli's defense so far, and get the feeling we can re-sign him for a pretty affordable price.

Michael McNamara
Michael McNamara

February 1st and the Hornets are 2nd or 3rd in the West. Philly offers Iggy and Kopono for Peja and Belinelli Yes or No and Why?

nikkoewan
nikkoewan

i say yes. we, still have buckets. Put Iggy and Ariza under Monty's tutelage and hope they can turn into decent 3 pt shooters( 35% - 37%)

m-W
m-W

There's a reason Kopono has never succeeded other than in the 3 pt. contest. No thanks. Belinelli is doing fine.

ur_gmas_daughter
ur_gmas_daughter

In a heartbeat. Kopono is an unbelievable three-point shooter (for anyone that watched any of the 3 point contests in the last couple years) He may not be able to create his shot like Belinelli but I think IF Kopono doesn't work out we always got Buckets. Iggy's contract is a lil steep but I think it could pay off dividends with an Ariza/Iggy duo in the lanes. I mean in my head and on paper that sounds down right frightening for opposing teams but the pessimist in me asks "what if it doesn't work out?" We have a Peja-like situation all over again with a hindering contract and player that's not really producing.

James Online
James Online

Hornets should be in no hurry to do anything at this point. You don't want to mess with chemistry that is proving itself to work extremely well. Peja's contract will be valuable later too. Leave things alone for the time being. A talented big would be a good goal, but there is no hurry.

ur_gmas_daughter
ur_gmas_daughter

I brought this up in the trade forum but what about signing a guy like Erick Dampier (obviously if his price tag is too high it's a no) and we can still go after the players mentioned. I personally think Gerald Wallace is a better option than Iggy BUT beggars can't be choosers...I'll take either

JPM
JPM

Carmeloooo!

m-W
m-W

I don't even know why we're talking trade for a 2. We have Marcus. He's young, cheap, and insanely talented. Before the refrains of "defense" start, I call preemptive bull$#@t, and ask how closley you've been watching.

42
42

If memory serves, his +/- support your claim that he's not a hole or a detriment to the team on defense. I've been thinking there's an experiment at work, but it's last a while. When there are non-guaranteed contracts in the mix, you need info on that player which is how I justify Gray sitting in favor of Mbenga (let's hope he's still 'fitnessing' too). With Marcus, I'm less able to find such a hope. I'm just trying to trust the Hive Mind. I'll dig into the +/- numbers.

DaPistol04
DaPistol04

I'm a huge fan of Iggy, great D/team 1st guy, with cp he would not need to create for himself. Defensively no doubt they would be great together but who would spread the floor with this line-up? cp3, iggy, ariza, dwest, okafor... Can the defense make up for no 3 point shooting??

berlin-hornets
berlin-hornets

I would love to get Iggy. His salary is high and runs a couple of years, but he is still relatively young. Our team is perimter orientated and should try to keep up with the Thunder and not the Lakers. If we are faced with bigger opponents, we can switch to zone defense. It has already proven to be good this season, but with Paul, Ariza and Iggy manning the perimeter, it would just be silly. A zone negates the advantages a dominant big man has, but usually has its weakness with three-point shooters. But the trio of CP,TA and IA would be quick enough, strong enough and intelligent enough to a) collapse and take the ball out of the big mans hands and b) be back to make the three more difficult or take it away. The future is predicated on small ball. You need very good defenders on the perimeter. Oak can hold his own against the elite big men if the help comes from the guards/forwards. I'd be all in for Iggy. I would like to keep Quincy though. I dont know what it is, but I think he could become a more likeable Bruce Bowen. Making the occasional corner three with a little drive to the hoop and being an ugly terrier on the defense (he kinda has the feel and the look about him).