The Deadline Cometh

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Published: February 13, 2011

I would like to piggyback off a fantastic article in our Journals section by Agent Ziko. If you have not gotten the chance to read it yet, I suggest you check it out here, as it is one of the most in-depth pieces on our potential trade partners one could imagine. And by in-depth I mean 4,500 words. It shines a light on every team and the possible discussions that Mr. Demps could be having with each of them.

While Ziko discusses targets, I would like to talk about the precarious situation that Dell Demps is in with this roster, his new bosses, and the franchise as a whole.

The Roster

Not even the most optimistic Hornets fan can honestly look at this roster and envision a scenario in which this group, with no additions, is hoisting a title either this year or next. At best, this team is one quasi All-Star away from being a true contender, and in actuality the number of pieces needed is probably two or three. The Hornets clearly have inferior talent to San Antonio, Boston, Miami, Los Angeles, OKC, and Dallas. Most would also argue, that on pure talent alone, teams like Denver, Orlando, and Chicago (when healthy) also possess the greater amount of talent.

Now we all know that talent alone does not a champion make, but David only had to beat Goliath one time, he did not have to win four separate best-of-seven series with different men of his stature. At the end of the day, the Hornets will have to close that talent gap, and while it is possible that some of that can be done by having current players improve, it will eventually take some new blood if this team wants to get over that hump.

Dell Demps knows that, but herein lies the problem- Is there anybody available who both significantly upgrades the talent without significantly damaging future flexibility? Is Rip Hamilton a big enough upgrade over Marco Belinelli to risk not having any depth next year or to risk losing Marcus Thornton and Willie Green in free agency? How about Stephen Jackson? Is Boris Diaw or Al Harrington enough to give us the quality bench play we will need come playoff time? Am I willing to be a luxury tax team to find out?

The New Bosses

You can read all the fluff pieces that you like about Dell Demps and Hugh Weber working hand in hand with Jac Sperling. Everything is great, they all see eye to eye, blah, blah, blah. Nice to hear, possible to believe, and better than some alternative scenarios I guess, but the fact of the matter is that Dell’s hands are still somewhat tied due to the fact that he simply will not be allowed to take on large amounts of salary and/or exceed the luxury tax threshold unless he can prove that it will be profitable. And how can you prove anything about the future?

Of course, I don’t blame Sperling or the NBA for taking this stance, either, as this is how a business should run. But in an arms race, you can’t be thrifty and then sit back and complain when your country (or team) is blown away by someone else who has loaded up. You know Dallas will add another piece before the deadline, even though they will likely get Roddy B. and Butler back come playoff time. Miami will likely sign a bought out vet like Troy Murphy, and even Boston and LA will improve their bench in some way. Maybe they won’t, but it will be because they choose not to.

Demps does not have this luxury, and perhaps that will make his victory all that much sweeter if he finds bargains the way the 2004 Pistons did, as he leads this organization to a title. But those stories are the aberrations. It is just a shame that some franchises have to get lucky with a ping pong ball twice and strike it rich on two international players (Spurs) or find diamonds in the rough (Pistons) to win titles, while others simply use resources the rest of the league doesn’t have to get their trophy’s.

But this is, in part, what Mr. Demps is dealing with, so forgive him if February 24th comes and we do not have the biggest presents under our tree.

The Franchise as a Whole

This is where it all comes together and gets a little tricky. There are a set of dominoes in place, but you really don’t know which one to tip over first. The David West domino effects the Chris Paul domino, but in what ways, and if that is true- what effects the David West domino? Would West like to see a veteran like Rip Hamilton added to the team? Would that show him that you are committed to winning or would Rip simply take away shots from David while producing the same results in the win column, therefore making David more likely to find a home elsewhere?

How much would West leaving really effect Paul? Would he demand a trade the day after D West signed elsewhere? The month after? What if it were a sign and trade? Would CP3 like playing with Josh Smith more? Less? What if you were so convinced that David West needed to stay in order to make CP3 happy, that you overpaid him and added a guy like Rip Hamilton? Now you have no flexibility, an aging roster, and worst of all- CP3 knows it. Is this Cleveland all over again?

We can play this game forever, but you see what I mean. A set of dominoes that has no clear beginning to an end resolution we all want to see- CP3 and David West as life long Hornets, someday hoisting a trophy together. It is a beautiful picture, but with all this uncertainty it is just impossible to know how we get there.

Moving Forward

There is nothing more important to this franchise than finding a stable owner, but that will only happen when a new collective bargaining agreement is reached between the players and the owners. Until that happens, there is very little chance that the league will sell the team, as they know the price of the franchise will skyrocket once the union is crushed later in 2011.

The Collective Bargaining Agreement will also dictate the state of rosters moving forward, and because of that, teams are unwilling to take on bad contracts. Suffice to say, the CBA has most of the league, and the Hornets particularly, in a holding pattern. Because of that, I do not expect any large moves from the Hornets in the next 11 days. Why the large column, then, you ask? Because there is a method to the madness, there is a reason Mr. Demps cannot give us what we would all like to see come February 24th.

And if you think it is frustrating for you, imagine how it feels to former NBA players, guys who are more competitive than anybody you know, guys who have egos that need to be fed. Imagine how Michael Jordan feels losing year after year in Charlotte and Washington- knowing he can’t do a damn thing about it.

Of course Dell Demps wants the guys that you all want, but he simply is not in a position to do that right now, and that is why this new CBA is the most important thing that will happen in the NBA this year. Because next year, when the trade deadline cometh, it just might be the case that the new CBA has put everyone on a level playing field, and if that is the case, we will be having an entirely different conversation.

19 comments
AgentZiko
AgentZiko

Thank you SOOO much for the shout out Mike. VERY, VERY, VERY much appreciated. And so all of you know, Mike had a lot of ideas that helped direct me with my article. Without his help, it would have taken another month to finish. =) As for YOUR article.... I feel more convinced we will make a "different" kind of move than what any of us are hoping for. I have already pointed out Jason Maxiell as a potential. We could literally trade Marcus Banks for Maxiell straight up. Another guy I am really singling out is Vladimir Radmanovic. He's 6'10. Is a very good shooter. Can play the 3-4. His contract is in the 6 million range, and he's in the last year of it. I just don't see us making any "sexy" moves with our situation. We're probably gonna go for a guy who makes 3-7 million, and has less than 3 years left on his contract. Unless Jamison, Hamilton, or Murphy get bought out, I just don't see us going for one of them at this point because they DON'T put us over the top. Instead, look for a move to be done on a smaller scale, and once we have new ownership, hopefully before this summer, we REALLY start swinging for the fences.

Mikey
Mikey

Ziko, Love the Maxiel Angle, mainly because its based in reality. He's about as good as the Hornets can afford at this point. I don't see a deal for Radmanivic happening, because he just doesn't seem to fit the mold of this team that Demps and Williams have constructed. You have to be willing/able to play defense, and for a 6'10 guy, Vlad is a terrible rebounder. (and I mean TERRIBLE) I do agree on the buyouts though. Not only will these players not put the Hornets over the top, if guys like Rip, Jamison, or Murphy are bought out, they will be snatched up by contending teams that just want to add some depth. Sadly, we are not one of them. The Celtics, Mavs, Bulls and Lakers of the world will get first (and last in most cases) crack at these guys. Why didin't Peja come back to the Hornets? Simple; he didn't think this team had a legit shot at a ring. These other potential buyouts think the same thing.

AgentZiko
AgentZiko

Agree on the potential signee's. As for Vlad Rad. He's not a great rebounder, but he's a pretty good defender. Especially when it comes to team defense. He got praised left and right by Phil Jackson when he was with the Lakers. Most fans were shocked when we saw Radmanovic matched up with guys like Melo, Lebron, and Pierce, but he really did well defensively. Which is why I think he could fit well in Monty's system, and possibly a better fit than Troy Murphy, who is also 6'10, (but plays the 4 and 5), and who is more a rebounder, and a very poor defender. Radmanovic gives us that back up 3 man. And when we want to go "small", can jump in at the 4 with DWest at the 5, and Ariza at the 3 still. Here's some comments from an article regarding him. His coach has called him "Space Cadet" and "My Favorite Martian" -- with affection, of course. Lakers forward Vladimir Radmanovic has taken all the name-calling from Phil Jackson in stride, knowing that it never stopped Jackson from starting him last season. Radmanovic won't start this season, but it's not because the name calling ceased during the first few days of the Lakers' training camp. "He's given me a little break," Radmanovic said today, smiling. "It's doesn't mean he won't bring it back. But I don't really mind it. I'd like to say that as long as Coach is talking about you, it's a good thing. Once everybody stops talking about you, that means you're in trouble. 'Space Cadet,' I don't like it, but it's good." Last season, when Andrew Bynum went down with a left knee injury, Radmanovic moved into the starting lineup, starting 41 regular-season games and 21 playoff contests. But Bynum is back healthy and will start at center. Pau Gasol will move back to power forward and Lamar Odom will go to small forward, or it could be Kobe Bryant in that spot if Jackson's experiment of Odom playing point guard works out. "I've been in a position where I started, I've been in position where I haven't started," said Radmanovic, who is entering his eighth NBA season and has three years and $19.4 million left on his Lakers contract. "I'm not going to say I don't care about not starting. But at the same time, I want this team to be as good as it can." But there's a chance the 6-foot-10 Radmanovic could see his playing time significantly limited. The Lakers staff likes Trevor Ariza's athleticism and Jackson has even suggested starting him at small forward. So it seems as if Ariza will be the first small forward off the bench. Then there is Luke Walton, recovering from right ankle surgery, who also is looking for playing time at small forward. So the Lakers have five players who can play that position. "There are going to be some guys who aren't happy," Radmanovic said. "Hopefully it's not going to be me." Radmanovic is known for his outside shooting -- he made 43.7% of his field goals and 40.6% of his three-pointers last season. But Jackson lauded Radmanovic's defense. "Defensively, there are a lot of positive things he can do," Jackson said today. "He's got anticipation [to get] steals, he's got quickness to double team and trap." ------

L_REAZY
L_REAZY

I love it ... but I don't think Washington would. They might deal Blatche with his attitude ... but Nick Young is off limits. Over on Nola. com I suggested we should have traded for him two years ago, and everyone thought I was nuts. Too late now! L_REAZY

Hordan
Hordan

How does this sound: Nick Young and Andray Blatche for J-Smitty, Thorton, and Banks? This fills our need at 2 guard and gives us a solid backup PF in Blatche.

AgentZiko
AgentZiko

Yea, I agree with Reazy. I dont' see Washington pulling that. Also, Blatche has got a lot of years left on that contract, probably making him less attractive to ownership for us.

L_REAZY
L_REAZY

Actually, Aaron Gray might suffice as Okafor's back-up right now. Maybe he has finally proven that he can play 15 minutes per game, and be just as effective as Nazr Mohammed or Samuel Dalembert against 2nd tier players. He's an excellent rebounder ... consistently! I think the 2-guard position needs help! ... someone who can knock down some 'wide-open-shots' would help this team more than a back-up center. It seems like the Hornets have enough effective BIGS in Okafor, West, Gray, Smith, Andersen, and Mbenga. Between those 6-post players someone has to get the job done. But, out of our 2-guards Green, Thornton, and Belinelli who can the Hornets rely on come playoff time? I say the Hornets go find a Rip Hamilton or another verteran 2-guard. I like our Big Guys at the moment better than anyone else we could get ... not named Jamison! L_REAZY

James Grayson
James Grayson

I'm not saying we add a Rip Hamilton or anything, but we need to find Chris Paul another pure shooter before the deadline. Because Marco Belinelli aint going to cut it.

AgentZiko
AgentZiko

Well hello, Mr. Swarm and Sting. Every team needs more than ONE shooter to get by. Belinelli alone won't cut it. But Belinelli, and 1 or 2 other guys who can fire away 38%+ turns into a threat that forces the defense to be honest. We aren't getting Ray Allen. But surrounding C with another DEEP bomber definitely makes his life easier.

Ron
Ron

I wonder if DD can/will powwow with CP3 & DWest and show them straight out the team's reality. I'm sure that they (the players) understand most of it, but ISTM that such an action would make CP3/DW feel-understand how important they are to the franchise.

Stefan
Stefan

I don't care about how Michael Jordan feels. He has millions.

Monty'sDoghouse
Monty'sDoghouse

I can't help but wonder what the backlash of a deal that involves us robbing someone blind would be. I.E. Signing Murphy or Jamison after being bought out or landing a backup big for a bag of peanuts (Marco,Banks, etc.) I also wonder if the NBA will allow such a perceived deal to happen in our favor because they are worried about their public image of "fair".

emir
emir

ha did anyone see what peja did last night ye thats who we traded

Mark
Mark

The Mavericks have one of the most depth of any team. No matter what their line up, he's not going to be the priority on defense, so he will be open often, and we know he can hit open shots with ease. Paul isn't attacking as much anymore, so the defense can cheat a bit more now. I honestly didn't read the whole article, but a veteran presence will only help if he contributes in my opinion, especially if he's going to be nabbing 12 mil/season like Rip. That is unless we can pry Villanueva from the Pistons along with. Also interested in the reports of Antawn Jamison, though I'm not sure at 34 he's the same player I remember from his Dallas days.

Hornet Seantonio
Hornet Seantonio

lol was this article just meant to start conversation's or something? i was reading it thinking where is this going. Mac you were that kid who was like guys lets not climb that tree, cuz we could fall, we are too far to call for help, always wore your helmet on the bike

Joe Gerrity
Joe Gerrity

I've actually met him before, and you couldn't possibly be more wrong about the kind of guy he is. Just FYI.

NOEngineer
NOEngineer

Our real problem is that we have only 4 pieces that are consistent enough to build a team around. CP3, DWest, and Mek are consistently good on both ends of the floor, while Trevor is consistent on the defensive end. Everyone else on the team is below average statistically, except for Aaron Gray. Therefore I feel that the answer is not one more excellent player, but instead 3 or 4 slightly above average players right away. Not glamorous, I know. I don't think trading for this year is the answer, since we are not the Lakers who can trade their garbage for diamonds.

bgalella
bgalella

Making any moves without a real owner is going to be a problem for New Orleans, unless it's a move to save some money. I don't think the Hornets are going to be able to make any significant moves to further their chances in the playoffs this year.

Eman5805
Eman5805

And you'd be wrong, sir. If the Hornets don't make any moves, it won't be because they don't have an owner and the NBA said to make moves to save money, not win. Besides, what if Demps made a big trade to skirt the lux tax line but it makes the team better? What's the NBA gonna do? Fire him?

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