Hornets Beat: Free Agency and David West

Published: November 30, 2011

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With a shortened free agency just around the corner, the Hornets and Dell Demps have got to be thinking non-stop about who to bring back from last year and who to let go without a fight. Today on Hornets Beat we weight in on the same issues. Tomorrow we tackle other free agents, so stay tuned.

Joining us today are Mason Ginsberg from HoopDat and James Grayson from Swarm and Sting. Also making an appearance is the Purple Hornet, who was a Bee-Zanie last year and has actually managed to get himself sponsored this year by Super Fan Suits. If you’re looking for full body spandex suits, that’s the spot to go.

1.) The highest priority free agent for the Hornets is….

Mason Ginsberg – David West. I still think he and CP3’s fates are highly correlated, in the sense that if West walks, Paul is gone too (that doesn’t mean Paul is going to stay if West does, unfortunately). In my mind, there’s no real close second here. Making keeping him in New Orleans even more important is my worry that if West leaves, we may overcompensate for his departure by giving starter money to Carl Landry, which I believe would be a big mistake.

Michael McNamara- It has to be David West. If the Hornets have any chance at all to keep Chris Paul long term, they have to bring back West. Reports are that West is fully healed and ready to go, and last year I saw significant improvement from West when it came to reading defenses, finding the open player, and understanding spacing. If he leaves we might as well start the rebuilding process.

James Grayson – It’s David West by far and away. I’ve had some conversation with some Hornets fans about actually not retaining West as being the better thing to do. While I agree that maybe getting younger would be a nice thing, there’s no scenario that I run through that has David West leaving and Chris Paul staying long term. A commitment from West is a commitment to the organisation and their goal of building for championships.

Purple Hornet – I hate to be a broken record, but hands down, David West.  While I haven’t been a huge D.West fan of late (defensive/rebounding weakness, “Black Hole” on offense), he’s vital in the resigning of CP3 and one of the Hornets “go-to” guys down the wire and Mr. Clutch.  Please don’t misunderstand my answer as disrespect to Mr. West, I appreciate everything he’s done for this team and how deadly he’s become from 17 ft. and the ice water pulsing through his veins during the dwindling seconds of a game and needing to hit a huge shot.

Joe Gerrity- Priorities one and two should be to make sure the Hornets don’t take on any long horrible contracts, D West included. If Indiana is going to pay him 13 or 14 million a year for 4 years, the Hornets absolutely should not try to one up them. Same goes with guys like Nene, Marc Gasol, etc.

2.) What is a fair contract for D. West?

Mason Ginsberg – I’d be okay with an average of up to $10 million per season. Similar to West’s last contract, the Hornets should try to front-load this one as well, as long as it doesn’t impede the team’s ability to put together the best squad that they can for this upcoming season. By doing so, the Hornets can take advantage of the fact that the new CBA’s effect on the salary cap doesn’t come into play until two seasons from now.

Michael McNamara-
4 years and $42 million, but the Hornets might have to give him a five year deal to stay. He can’t get five years from another team under the new CBA, so you can rest assured that West’s agent is going to insist on that 5th year to keep his client in The Big Easy. In all likelihood, he is on the decline by year three or four, but if he gives you the only chance you got to keep CP3, you have to do it. Right?

James Grayson – This was something I touched on briefly on S&S because it’s very tough to understand where his value lies with a new CBA. Before the injury I’m sure David wanted in excess of $12 million a year, but after the injury I think it may be closer to $10 million. Having said that, the fact that this free-agent class is so weak may mean that someone will overpay him, probably the Pacers and I don’t think New Orleans is getting any home town discount. My final answer would be a fair contract is about 4 years/$40-44 million.

Purple Hornet- I’m not a huge fan of numbers, so I’m going to stay out of naming an actual number.  For an “Aging” (in terms of the NBA) Forward coming off ACL surgery, it wouldn’t be in the range of what he would have gotten coming off of a healthy season.  The front office has to look at this signing carefully because you want to keep CP3 happy, but don’t want to bury your team with a gaudy contract that leaves us scraping the bottom of the piggy bank for the next 4-5 years.  He was never a real “flashy” or an over athletic “I’M GOING TO DUNK ON YOU” sort of Forward, so I’m 50/50 on how the surgery will affect his game.  Will he become softer on the boards (if that’s possible) or no change, time will tell.  I think I just rambled a bunch without actually answering the question, but “Regis, this is my final answer.”

Joe Gerrity- I’m OK with five years and roughly 50 million to re-sign him. Fair would probably be around two years 20 million. The guy is coming back from major surgery, after all…

3.) Does Carl Landry deserve starter money?

Mason Ginsberg – No, especially not with the Hornets. He serves a much needed role as a scoring threat off the bench, but his deficiencies both on defense and in the rebounding game clash with Coach Williams’ coaching style. He simply cannot match up defensively with most of the starting power forwards in the West, and is best suited as a third big man.

Michael McNamara- Ironically, Landry played far better as a starter last year even though he is known as a spark off the bench. Is he worth starter money? Maybe to some teams, but not to the Hornets. He and Mek are simply too small to contend night in and night out with the size out West. Indiana has a 7’4” center, so maybe they could justify paying the man 7-8 million per year, but I don’t think the Hornets can.

James Grayson- No. With the Hornets needing to sign West there’s little chance of Landry seeing starter money from them. That being said a contract that’s around $6 million per year might satisfy him to come back and play a prominent role. Rumors have it that Dell Demps is coming hard after both West and Landry and you have to think that he’ll discuss the issue of roles with both players. Does a team overpay Landry? Perhaps they do, I mean I could see Milwaukee or Indiana doing something like that, though I’m not sure it’d be a wise decision.

Purple Hornet – I have a feeling someone will overpay for him, I’m just hoping it isn’t the Hornets.  Landry provided a spark for this team when their star PF went down with injury.  The offense became more up beat, ball movement improved, etc, but I’m not sure he could sustain that for a full season and become a true starter making big starter money.  Landry’s pay will depend on the signing of West.  If West gets a big deal, will Landry hang around for cheap and be a role player off the bench?  If West does not get signed, does Landry still expect the big pay day?  Consider me a fan of Landry and his style of play, but I’m unsure if paying him BIG TIME is the answer for this club.

Joe Gerrity-
Not to the Hornets. He’s just too small to compete day in day out with the top bigs.

4.) More valuable to the Hornets: Aaron Gray or Willie Green?

Mason Ginsberg – I think it has to be Gray. He may be somewhat of a liability on offense, but he takes up so much space defensively and does such a good job rebounding the ball that he is worth having on the court. Pairing him with a guy like Landry off the bench makes sense, since in an area where one struggles, the other excels. As for Willie Green, I like the guy from a team chemistry standpoint, but talent-wise, he’s simply no better than replacement level.

Michael McNamara– I know people love to say that, “7-footers don’t grow on trees,” but either do spiritual leaders who are the heart and soul of the locker room. Willie might frustrate us all on the court at times, but he waves a mean towel on the bench and is a leader in the locker room, who can also drain the occasional three.

James Grayson –
Willie Green is a scorer off the bench and that’s it. He’s not a renowned defender, nor can he set up an office, pass the ball or rebound the ball. He’s a scorer. This is why I think Aaron Gray is more valuable. I really think Gray came on strong towards the end of the season and I have to say his conditioning was improving as well. We’ll see whether he’s in shape after the lockout though.

Purple Hornet – Now this is a question that is easy for me to answer…”Big Sloppy” aka Aaron Gray is more important than Willie “Jordan” Green.  I’ve never been a fan of Willie (Mr. Green, if you are reading this, I’m sorry) and have always referred to him as Coach Williams’  “Devin Brown.”  He’ll give you a great game here and there, sparingly, but he’s not the SG I want for the Hornets.  I want a slashing, create your own shot, go hard 100% sort of guy that shoots lights out from downtown (*coughs*fromLSU*coughs)…*dreams*  I wonder if we’ll ever have a SG like that….  Back to Aaron though, the guy is a 7 foot huge body and 6 fouls down low, what more could you ask for?  Of course his offensive game is lacking, but he makes up for it in hustle and a tough body to throw at the Bynums and Howards of this league.  I think Gray has grown a lot with this team and I’m a huge personal fan of his.

Joe Gerrity-
Typically I’ll take a 7 footer who can rebound with the best of them over a 6 footer who can score, but Willie Green does bring that veteran blue-collar mentality that I love in players. Their value to the Hornets depends entirely on who else is on the roster. Last year I think Gray was more valuable since the Hornets simply needed a big who could rebound on multiple occasions. There was really nowhere else to turn.

5.) At the end of the day: Who re-signs? Who leaves?

Mason Ginsberg – West, Ewing Jr., and Willie stay. Landry, Smith, and Gray are gone. I think the Hornets would like to keep both Landry and Gray, but Landry will probably command too much money for the team to afford both he and West, and I simply don’t believe that Gray wants to stay here. Smith’s game is just too one-dimensional to rely on him for consistent minutes off the bench.

Michael McNamara-
If I had to guess, I say West, Willie Green, Jason Smith, and Patrick Ewing Jr. return. That would give the Hornets ten players on the roster and the ability to offer two mid-level type contracts to other free agents if they like. It’s hard to imagine a scenario in which both West and Landry return, but perhaps the Hornets can move Landry in a sign and trade and pick up an asset or a trade exception in return.

James Grayson-
I hate to be the pessimistic one of the group, but I have a hard time believing that West and Landry stay. Something tells me that West is fed up and wants a change of scenery and that Landry had his sights set elsewhere the moment he got here. I think the Hornets retain Patrick Ewing and Willie Green

Purple Hornet – I don’t see us signing both Landry and West and i think we end up with Landry in the end (which is not a HORRIBLE thing – as long as we can give CP3 something else in return).  Pure guess/dream, but I think if we re-sign either Landry or West, Ewing Jr. and Gray.

Joe Gerrity- West, Green, Patrick Ewing junior, and… I’ll go with Aaron Gray. I didn’t think he would be returning after the playoff series against the Lakers since somebody was bound to overpay him, but now that so much time has passed I think he winds up back here. Frankly, I’m glad. I want to see the big man continue to improve right here in the Big Easy.


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