Why the Marcus Thornton for Carl Landry (and every Demps trade) makes perfect sense.

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Published: February 25, 2011

No one was a bigger Marcus Thornton fan than I was. I think I literally jumped two feet out off of my couch when it was announced that the New Orleans Hornets traded with the Miami Heat in the 2009 NBA Draft to receive the rights for the LSU star. Being a former high school basketball player, I had known about Marcus since he was a high school player at Tara High in Baton Rouge, LA. Nothing was more exciting than watching this cat ball up close and personally in his college days as a Tiger.

At LSU, Marcus was a dominant player on a team that never really reached full potential since now coach Trent Johnson did not arrive until his senior season. However, I always felt that Marcus was meant for heights much higher than those of his teammates. It was discouraging to see draft critics rate him so low and claim that is 6’4 frame would hamper his chances of even making and entry in the NBA. Right, like guys 6’4 or shorter (Michael Jordan & Dwayne Wade) never became successful shooting guards.

Marcus was drafted along side rookie sensation Darren Collison, who was meant to be a backup point guard for Chris Paul. 2009-10 arrived and the season went to hell. Despite drafting two of the best rookies in the 09 draft, former GM Jeff Bower once again failed to land any blockbuster trades or obtain major free agents to add to Chris Paul’s arsenal. Head coach Byron Scott was fired for not playing the rookies, and not displaying a winning effort on the court. CP3 became injured for most of the season, and all game plans seemed to be tossed out of the window.

Then Marcus Thornton and Darren Collison were given the green light to work whatever magic they could. Marcus became a scoring machine and played the game with no fear. Just like he did as a Tiger. Marcus quickly went down in Louisiana folklore after that, well he did for the fans that were actually supporting the team at that time. Although Collison and Thornton respectfully helped the Hornets earn a winning season in 2009-10 with a 34-25 record, the team still failed to enter the post season.

Rebirth. Local feelings of championship were in the air, and it wasn’t because of the Hornets but rather than the local football team. (Who Dat?) Interest in the Hornets, whether Marcus Thornton was set to be a star or not, was falling fast. The Hornets cleaned house Chris Paul approved head coach Monty Williams and GM Dell Demps were hired after the firing of Jeff Bower. Fans became upset with the rumors that their superstar CP3 was demanding a trade when the reality is that they should thank him for that.

The rumors surfaced after Jeff Bower, once again, failed to bring in quality free agents to make the Hornets more able to compete in the Western Conference. Dell Demps came in and gutted the roster and nearly rebuilt it from scratch. Demps pretty much pulled out a full offseason’s work out of “where the sun don’t shine” just weeks before the season began. Immediately he pulled off trades to to acquire Trevor Ariza, Marco Belinelli, Willie Green, Jason Smith, and Jarryd Bayless.

Even though the core of the team returned, (Paul, David West, & Emeka Okafor) everything else about the team was completely new. The team took off to one of the hottest starts in the NBA, but Marcus was getting lost in the mix. This confused fans because we all thought we saw the league’s future star last season. The team acquired too many guards and it became hard to distribute the playing time, and it appeared that Willie Green and Marco Belinelli seemed to fit the Monty Williams style better. But…we saw Marcus save the team several times by coming off the bench and being that scoring machine we had grown so fond of.

I, like many fans, lead the call for Thornton to get more playing time and even become a starter. However, even as Thornton got more playing time, we noticed that he (in Williams’s system) could be a streaky shooter and he never clearly distinguished himself over Green and Belinelli. Recently Emeka Okafor, who has emerge as a quality center in the league, went down with injury and a weak reserve frontcourt was exposed. This left a huge hole in the roster and lead to fans hearing the words they never wanted to hear, “Marcus Thornton Traded.”

The Marcus Thornton for Carl Landry makes perfect sense. Not only does it makes perfect sense…it’s a monster trade! As emotionally tied to Marcus we were, let’s be honest here. He wasn’t getting a lot of minutes and his consistency became streaky at best. He was also a free agent at the end of the season and even if the Hornets wanted him back he would most likely not resign with them. As much as we did not want to recognize it, we can not pretend we did not see his exit was coming.

With Carl Landry, the Hornets get one of the NBA’s premiere reserve Forward/Centers. The guy also was a 20-10 guy as a starter with Houston before spending time as a backup behind rookie sensation Demarcus Cousins in Sacramento. With a weak frontcourt you just can not survive in the Western Conference, and with Landry the Hornets have another scoring option and defender in the paint. David Andersen and Jason Smith are strictly perimeter guys that, defensively, get abused down low. Aaron Gray just doesn’t not have the durability to take most of the load when someone like Okafor is out. Oh, by the way, it has been discovered that Carl LANDRY has family roots in Donaldsonville, LA. So he’s a local guy…sort of.

When spelled out like that, this trade seems like a no brainer to me. Especially since there weren’t many big men available and Demps when out got the first quality name he could. In fact, every Demps trade has been a no brainer. I’ll break them down.

Trevor Ariza - Trevor Ariza was the first player we got via Dell Demps magic. It was a multi-team deal that basically had the Hornets shipping out Darren Collison and James Posey so the Hornets could pick up Trevor Ariza from Houston. Two good things happened here. The Hornets got a quality player and dumped Posey’s ridiculously large contract. (thanks, Bower…) They also received a top 10 defensive player in Ariza. Previously the Hornets had been one of the worst defensive teams in the league. Don’t listen to media on this one folks. Giving up Collison, although he’ll be great in the future, was vital to the current season’s success. Defense wins championships. (Spurs, Detroit, Boston anyone?) Critics call this a failed trade because in their eyes Ariza has “underachieved” this season. But here’s the facts…these “analysts” don’t watch the games. they read the stats and defense doesn’t really show up in the stat sheet. Monty Williams is a defensive coach, the Hornets rarely score over 100 points a game, and so Ariza isn’t really required to score over 20 points like others teams have banked on with him.

Marco Belinelli - Almost immediately after Ariza, Belinelli was acquired by trading Julian Wright to Toronto. The Julian Wright experiment never really took off in the Crescent City. Ariza pretty much would later emerge as the type of player Hornets fans hoped he would become. The Hornets, not yet acquiring Willie Green via trade, needed another guard and 3-point specialist. So once again, excellent job, Dell.

Jason Smith & Willie Green - Bower signed another player to a ridiculous contract, Darious Songalia. Only Go knows why Songalia had such a huge contract. The guy was only 6’9, not a very great defender and rebounder, and his only game was around the perimeter. Trading him for Jason Smith gave the Hornets a cheaper perimeter big man, and a 7 foot guy Paul could run the pick and roll with. Rookie pick Craig Brackens was traded for Willie Green. At this time, Williams and Demps were desperate looking for a ball handler since no point guards were available. Williams, having once played with Green, knew of his defensive nature and thought it to be a great fit in his system.

Jerryd Bayless - Although later traded to Toronto, this was initially a good trade. It was a last minute acquiring of a guard that could play point guard. A more true back up to CP3. However, Peja Stojakovic’s contract needed to be dumped asap. Peja, due to injuries, was limited to a bench role and had a contract way to large for such a thing. A deal was soon to be made to send Peja to Toronto in exchange for Marcus Banks and David Andersen. Toronto didn’t mind helping us dump some salaries, but not without acquiring a little talent. They asked for Bayless and so Nola asked for Jarrett Jack. They got a flashy scorer and we got a true point guard.

Jarrett Jack & David Andersen - Another slam dunk deal for Demps. Hornets received a starting point guard for CP3′s backup with Jack. A better ball handler and spark off the bench. Andersen was never expected to play much, but when Okafor went out with injury he proved he could be a treat from both the perimeter and 3 point land if called upon.

There you have it. A break down of Dell Demps genius. Keep in mind that every single one of these trades were heavily criticized by both fans and professional press alike. And what happened after every move Demps made? The Hornets became a tougher contender in the Western Conference. Think of what would have happened if they guy had a full summer of offseason work…scary, right?

Link to the original Article. http://jessecbrooks.blogspot.com/2011/02/why-marcus-thornton-for-carl-landry-and.html

This post was submitted by jessecbrooks.

6 comments
winze
winze

Sorry meant to say "one bench player" in my last line Also, there is no way that the Kings would have traded Landry for Marco or Willie. We wanted Landry and the player they wanted back was someone not even in the permanent rotation.... so.... of course you pull the trigger if you are Demps. It is a no brainer.

Crazy Boy504
Crazy Boy504

I don't approve of this trade, I would rather see Green or Belineni and I'm pretty much sure that they can figure out something before his contract is up. his is natural born scorer and I think its just Bull%#*& that they would give up Marcus Thornton. I guarantee that he will be the Next J.R. Smith, Brandon Bass, or even Baron Davis. All who have success even since being traded or departed, watch and see Marcus Thornton go wild when he get more playing time!!!

winze
winze

seriously... need to get remove your rose covered glasses as the original poster of this article has... We traded a guy who did not fit on the team anymore for someone who fills a need and upgrades our front court bench beyond anything we ever hoped for this season. Look at all the other crappy names people were willing to trade for and now look what we ended up with. If you don't approve, then you truly are not a fan of the team. Yes we had to give up something but in reality Marcus was wasting away on this team. I was one of the many people wanting him to play more and overjoyed when we drafted him. BUT reality sets in and the best thing for Marcus is for him to get PT and be allowed to play his game and improve. As for the other names you mentioned as former hornets, only Bass is worthy of even being mentioned, and we can blame scott/bower for letting him go. Smith is a headcase and always will be and is not a team player and I was glad to see him go. Baron Davis is a headcase and you do realize if we never traded him, then CP3 would never be a Hornet right? The success of the Hornets is about so much more than on bench player, no matter who he is.

Mile Hi Messiah
Mile Hi Messiah

I'm sure this is a decent article, but I won't lie and say that I continued reading after paragraph 2 that states that Michael Jordan was 6'4" or shorter. Sorry guy, but how accurate or strong can your article be when you have an incorrect fact about the greatest basketball player of all time? http://espn.go.com/nba/player/_/id/1035/michael-jordan

Joe Gerrity
Joe Gerrity

Also, I think Ariza was a good pickup because of how he's fit in on the defensive end, but there's no denying that he's underachieved on the offensive side of the ball. He's taking a bunch of shots at a very inefficient rate. One would have presumed his efficiency would go up having Paul passing him the ball, but it's actually gotten worse. Honestly, I don't think there are any wings who are shooting a lower percentage on shots that aren't at the rim. He's shooting 28% on shots that aren't at the rim. On shots between that aren't at the rim up to 23 feet away, he's shooting 26%. He only takes 3.1 of his 10.2 shots a game at the rim, so that leaves 7.1 shots per game where barely over a quarter of his attempts are successful. Again though, on the defensive end he's had a huge impact.

Joe Gerrity
Joe Gerrity

Really nice article. I hope you don't mind, but to make it a little easier to read, I've broken down a few of the longer paragraphs into smaller ones. Also There was a place you said Demps when you meant Bower. I'll be sure to discuss it during our live chat tonight.