How Marcus Thornton Becomes a New Orleans Hornet Again

Published: December 7, 2011

Update- Apparently what I said about Paul and Thornton not liking each other is flat out wrong. I heard it, and after I ran it through my head a dozen times last night I convinced myself that it made perfect sense. The reality is that it isn’t true, the two actually are actually pretty decent friends, and that the reason Thornton was dealt was because he just didn’t fit into the system well. The Hornets remain extremely unlikely to acquire Marcus Thornton, and any speculation that they will in fact make an effort to acquire him will likely prove to be wrong.

So this article is pretty worthless in regard to the Thornton speculation. I’ll keep it up for the CP3 trade talk, which is still relevant, and to inspire myself to be better in the future.

It’s coming out that the Golden State Warriors are actually not willing to pull the deal on a Curry-Paul deal without a guarantee that Chris Paul will re-sign with them. In order to get that guarantee, they will continue to try and sign Tyson Chandler before dealing with the Hornets. It’s well known that Paul wants to play with Tyson again, and would presumably be open to re-signing if Tyson was on board.  Supposedly they will offer Ellis instead of Curry even if CP3 is just possibly a rental.

Ellis isn’t a building block for a franchise on the rebound, so that leaves the Hornets with the Clippers deal right now. Unfortunately, they now refuse to include Eric Gordon unless Paul agrees to re-sign with them. The deal could still include DeAndre Jordan, a restricted free agent who will likely be overpaid, but he’s not quite as nice a piece as Gordon, and presumably Demps isn’t as interested in him.

So where does that leave the Hornets? Confused. First off, of course Chris Paul will re-sign with the Clippers. I don’t buy that they won’t give up Gordon as part of a deal if the rest of it is right. Even if they actually won’t give him up, who really cares? He’s a still-not-that-great shooting guard who is certain to wind up getting a Luol Deng like contract. Personally I’m not high enough on the guy to pay something like that for him at any point, and I really would only want him in a deal if it meant that I could ship him elsewhere for something better suited for the future.

Even if CP3 says no guarantees to the Clippers (which actually makes it easier for the team that trades for him to remain good), the Clippers would presumably jump on a Kaman, Bledsoe, Aminu, Minn 2012, and one of their future firsts for CP3. A third team can find it’s way into the mix as a destination for Okafor, and if they give back an expiring big man for the Hornets to use for a season up front, it can be assumed the Hornet would get another pick from that also. Plus the Hornets will presumably sign and trade David West to a contender if it were to bring them back some picks/assets with or without an expiring deal.

This is the deal we are going to focus on for the remainder of this post, since it (or a slight variation of it) is presumably on the table for Demps to ponder.

What all that does is leave the Hornets with a roster that consists of two hopefully expiring contracts up top, roughly four picks in the 2012 first round (two of them likely high lottery picks), a few extra future picks, a few veterans to show everyone the way (Ariza and Jack), a few young guys who could be very nice role players one day (Aminu, Bledsoe and Q-Pon), some fan-favorite back of the rotation hustle guys (Patrick Ewing Junior, Brian Butch), and a GIANT GAPING HOLE ON OFFENSE/IN THE LSU DEPARTMENT

Did you think I just forgot what the title was?

Enter Marcus Thornton.

Until two days ago, I was writing off the Thornton rumors as trivial. Of course his name would come up, and of course everyone will say the Hornets are interested, since that’s what agents say in these situations. Sources: Everyone is interested in everyone.

But the more and more I thought about it, the more it makes perfect sense. First off, you have a team (the Hornets) which desperately needs to extend the PR roll they have been on lately to basketball court if they want to escape their longtime place as NBA doormats. Problem is, they have to trade their star, and it doesn’t appear that anyone they get back in return will really excite fans that aren’t already “in”.

Marcus Thornton does that for you, and he does it on a level that nobody else the Hornets can realistically get in free agency will be able to do. There were freaking grandma’s coming up to Monty Williams in the street and giving him crap about not playing Thornton enough last year. OK? Grandmas in the street. No exaggeration.

Thornton is a very popular fellow due to his time at LSU and especially the moments of brilliance he put up in his year plus with the Hornets. He’s a guy who can drop 50 on any given night, posterize half the other team, and be humble and easily approachable after. There’s a reason why Hornets fans love him, and it’s no surprise that they overwhelmingly seem to want him back.

But Joe, you say, clearly you heard that Thornton was a problem in the locker room and on the court to some extent last year. That was one of the biggest reasons he was dealt. He didn’t fit into Monty’s system… or something.

I started digging a while ago about what really happened in that locker room to make the Hornets trade such a promising local talent that the fans loved like their own child. I mean, it seemed crazy at the time, especially since the team had for so long been without a quality shooting guard.

Let me tell you what I have concluded from talking with people who are lose to Marcus.

  1. The problems that existed in that locker room as they related to Marcus Thornton were largely in part because of an ongoing conflict between Chris Paul and Thornton. They don’t seem to like each other on or off the court.
  2. Any rumors that Monty was unhappy with Thornton likely stemmed from the obvious need and desire for Dell Demps and Monty Williams to please Chris Paul. If you’re trying to hold onto a superstar as a first time head coach/GM, you have to have his back in the locker room.

Doesn’t that just make sense? Anyone who has met Thornton can tell you right away that he’s not going to be a problem causer in the NBA locker room or anywhere else for that matter.

The benefits to bringing Thornton back are truly immense from an off-court perspective. They acquire a bona fide star (to locals at least) to replace Paul’s effect on attendance numbers. The guy actually wants to be here more than anywhere else, so immediately you have someone for the fans to associate as the face of the franchise. Additionally, all those fans that they pissed off when trading Thornton the first time probably won’t hold it against the team anymore.

Oh, and he’s an extremely talented scorer on a team that appears on paper like it will struggle to score. But you already knew that. Don’t worry about overpaying him, either, since the Hornets will have tons of cap space that they literally will have to use to get to the minimum. You can front load the contract so that in a few years it’s more friendly to our Salary Cap number.

Will it happen? That’s unlikely, but it makes a lot more sense than it did yesterday.


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