The Trevor Ariza Conundrum

Published: December 20, 2011

The Hornets have a problem of sorts. It’s not a problem in the sense that it can’t be solved, or that it’s going to ruin their future, but it’s a problem nonetheless. They have Quincy Pondexter and Al-Farouq Aminu, two young guys who both right now fit most naturally at the three, sitting on the bench behind Trevor Ariza, a veteran who is clearly much more valuable to a contending team than to a rebuilding team.

But are the Hornets really rebuilding? Monty isn’t someone to take time off from winning. Talk to him for two minutes and tell me otherwise. Guy thinks about winning more than Charlie Sheen did during his prime. He’d rather tongue kiss a maggot than… oh wait. Nevermind. Let’s just say that he really wants to win games. He’s sees that as his sole job as coach.

The team has brought in veterans like Carl Landry for what, on paper at least, appears to be an attempt to put together a team that could compete for a playoff spot, at least for the first few months of the season. Monty told me, “We don’t want to give away games”. Hornets fans don’t want them to give away games either, as evidenced by our most recent poll. 69 percent of Hornets fans want to see the team try to make the playoffs this year, at least initially.

But that’s a problem. You don’t dedicate so much time to developing Quincy (Monty spent two weeks working with him one-on-one before the lockout) and then bring on Aminu, if Ariza is the SF of the future. I asked Monty Williams about the conundrum the Hornets face, and he told me, “That’s something Dell and I are talking about as we speak. We need to get those guys on the floor.” He went on to say, “We want to put guys in a position so we can win, but at the same time they need to develop”.

The Hornets are facing an identity crisis of sorts. They are obviously not real contenders even if they play their best players, but they are talented enough that they could make a run at a playoff spot if things go well. The obvious downside to competing all year long is that they forfeit what could be a franchise-changing lottery pick in a deep talented draft. If they become a doormat though, they risk losing the allegiance of some of the new season ticket holders that they worked so hard to win over in the past year.

Who will this years Hornets actually be? Tough to say right now, but the decision on what to do with Trevor Ariza will likely define who this team is both this year and into the future.