No Risk, All Reward: Breaking Down the Xavier Henry Trade

Published: January 6, 2012

Dell Demps lives up to his “Dealer” nickname yet again. This time the Hornets acquire guard Xavier Henry in a three team trade with the Memphis Grizzlies and Philadelphia 76ers. On the surface, this trade looks innocent enough—a second round pick for a promising but unproven young player—but let’s take a deeper look and see how this not only affects the Hornets but their division rival as well.

This was a move made out of necessity by the Hornets who are just not getting it done from 3-point range so far this season. The Hornets rank last in the league, shooting a miserable 19.5% this season. The team’s two best 3-point shooters, Marco Belinelli and Eric Gordon, are only shooting 28.6% and 8.3% respectively. That is not going to light up the scoreboard. With little depth behind Gordon and Belinelli, as well as Henry’s ability to play the 3, Demps had to make a move.

In Henry, the Hornets are getting a raw, former lottery pick (Memphis drafted him 12th overall in 2010). His pro-career isn’t anything impressive so far, averaging only 4.3 points in just about 14 minutes per game. His 11.8% 3-point percentage also suggests he shoots blindfolded. I saw Hugo nail free-throws blindfolded Wednesday so I’m assuming you can shoot well without looking. Given he’s has 17 three-point attempts to his name, it’s too small of a sample size to accurately judge him.

Prior to Memphis taking him last year, his DraftExpress scouting evaluation read as follows, “A highly capable spot up shooter who has a chiseled physique and brings solid defensive intensity, he’s tailored to be a useful player right away for some teams and could blossom into a very effective offensive wing if he continues to develop.” Couple his potential with the fact that he is only 20 and you can see why Dealer Dell pulled the trigger on this deal.

Even if Henry doesn’t pan out, the Hornets gave up virtually nothing to acquire him. Second round picks have a very high chance of failure. The Hornets sold their second rounder last year because there was just no one they wanted. Check out this tweet from Draft Express. The pick will most likely end up being the equivalent of a 10-day contract signing.The Hornets basically gave up last year’s Sasha Pavlovic for a former lottery pick.

If Henry doesn’t pan out with the Hornets, no big deal since he’s still on his rookie contract. The Hornets have team options on Henry for the next two seasons at 2.3 and 3.2 million. If it doesn’t work out, the Hornets don’t pick up the option and his (low) salary comes off the books.

That’s like if someone gives you a free beer then you decide it tastes terrible and pour it out. The other person wasted a beer but you didn’t really lose anything. These are the type of long-term moves small-market teams need to make in order to make a deep playoff run. Without Chris Paul’s shadow hanging over the organization, the Hornets are able to take these gambles. I applaud your long-term thinking, Dell Demps.

VIDEO HIGHLIGHT INTERVAL! Take a look at the newest Hornet in action.

Let’s resume…

The move could also start the countdown to the end of Belinelli’s career as a Hornet. He has struggled to shoot the ball this season and it looks like Monty Williams is starting to lose faith in the Italian. Against the 76ers Belinelli only played 21 minutes, down from his 30+ in the previous five games. Given that he is on an expiring deal, don’t be surprised if Demps deals him to a playoff team willing to give up young assets to make a run at a title (I’m looking at you Chicago).

Other than giving up Henry, this move also has big implications for the division rival Grizzlies. The Grizz are clearly in a win-now state of mind. Teams normally don’t give up on a 20 year only lottery pick after just one season but, with his injuries and OJ Mayo ahead of him on the depth chart, Henry became expendable once Zach Randolph went down injured for 6-8 weeks.

Chip Crain, from the Grizzlies blog 3 Shades of Blue, agrees and says the move could “be born more from desperation than intelligence and not just because the Grizzlies have lost Zach Randolph for the next 6-8 weeks of the season. This could be desperation born from pressure from the owner to win now…”

With no guarantee that OJ Mayo will remain with the team long term, the Grizzlies could have a gaping hole in the backcourt which the Hornets and Eric Gordon could take advantage of for years to come. If Henry reaches all of his potential, Demps will not only have added a solid player to the Hornets, but also weakened a division rival. All for the price of a future second round pick.


  1. JT's Hoops Blog

    January 6, 2012 at 12:12 pm

    Anyone is better than Belinelli

    • NOS-3rd Gen

      January 9, 2012 at 12:53 pm

      yea belinelli doing bad now,but if we do trade him do anybody think we should okafor too. if we do my best bet is the player i’ve been saying we should target, but some people criticized me b/c his Basketball I.Q. is low, but we still should target Javale McGee. We should throw in another player or two to get Nick young or ask for another team to get involved as long as we get McGee and another starter type. We could still have the twin towers method! Do You Agree?

  2. Ken

    January 6, 2012 at 12:15 pm

    According to this site every move Dell makes is brilliant. He traded Collison and Thornton, two promising young players. Can anyone credibly argue Hornets wouldn’t be better today with those two? Dell will be judged ultimately by the two lottery picks he will make this summer.

    • StefanC

      January 6, 2012 at 12:38 pm

      At the time, they were both moves we needed to make. Our goal was to make the deepest playoff run possible, so we acquired Ariza and Landry while unloading Posey’s contract. At the time, both moves made sense, because we weren’t rebuilding or planning long-term. We were in “win-now-mode.”

      • 504ever

        January 6, 2012 at 3:15 pm

        No, we were rebuilding, just not from as low a point. We had to dump Posey’s conract and the only way to do it was trade Collison.

        Thornton was never a fit with the Hornets. And we got a quality big for him. If Henry works out, it will prove how easy it is to acquire smaller players and how hard it is to acquire taller ones.

        After Gordon, our starters and back-up front line is the strength of this team which is what you want.

    • Jason Calmes

      January 6, 2012 at 5:32 pm

      Easy. DC couldn’t get minutes last year even if he was the second best PG in the NBA, and we weren’t going to pay MT $8m a year, so we made an argument to a would-be free agent to come here . . . a hard thing to do . . . and it worked, all without tying up long term money.

      Sounds smart to me.

      Genius? No. See Bayless from Portland.

      Good GM? Yes. See Bayless to Toronto.

      Demps will be judged by his performance with what we had to work with, which was very little to start with and a nearly immediate out-flow of talent.

  3. KC NOLA

    January 6, 2012 at 12:31 pm

    I love the trade we made for Xaiver Henry, think about it we got a lottery pick(Henry) for a 2nd rounder. That’s a win by itself,its a bonus that Henry is only
    20 years old. So the hornets are rebuilding now but with good pieces before the
    draft.Henry is a potential guy who can play the 2/3 and be a decent scorer,I think he can average around 15-17 ppg when it’s all said and done.(he was a lottery pick for a reason) At Memphis it was hard for him to find Minutes behind Mayo and Allen(13-14 minutes per game)but here I think he will get a chance early with Ariza out and Belly playing a little small to play about 18-20 minutes per game. I’m hoping he can start by giving us a spark off the bench and hopefully become a bigger steal by becoming a starter or 6th man. I think he can be the guy who can create his own shot and be our second scorer.

  4. Southpaw

    January 6, 2012 at 12:57 pm

    We need Xavier now! Get well soon…

  5. MontyForMayor

    January 6, 2012 at 2:17 pm

    Looks like we are trying to mimic both the Twolves and the Spurs as an organization.

    Like the Twolves in that we are building a roster of young, lottery picks and hoping for their development.

    And like the Spurs, with the defense first philosophy, which we already knew.

    I hope it doesn’t take as long as Minnesota and hope we’re not as boring as SA.

    You are right about the trade. Hopefully Monty develops this dude into a solid player. I have faith he will.

    • DownUnder

      January 6, 2012 at 6:01 pm

      Yes kind of like the Twolves but unlike them, we have older mentor kind of players to quide them, we have a respectable veteran at every position except SG but I think you could get away with Monty’s wing player skills

  6. pinoyballah

    January 6, 2012 at 2:26 pm

  7. Eli

    January 6, 2012 at 3:22 pm

    Hopefully henry and gordon get well soon. We have some young athletic wings now. Gordon, henry, ariza, aminu, summers – all are capable of running up and down the court and throwing down monster dunks.
    P.s. Playing with henry on nba2k12 gets me really excited to see him play in real life.

    Lets Go Team!!
    Lets Go Hornets!!

  8. Jo D

    January 6, 2012 at 4:00 pm

    Personally, I believe that once Xavier gets healthy… Our second team will be the most exciting team we have had since CP3 was throwing lobs to JR and Birdman.. Vasquez, Belli, Henry, Smith, Kaman…. That team could potentially outscore the starters on some nights…
    I’ll go use the bathroom, grab a beer and some chicken strips in the first… Return to my seat in 105 with about 4 min remaining in the first ready to see the potential!

  9. J

    January 6, 2012 at 4:34 pm

    That trade is dead because of Henry recent they better get a free agent that going to take under 2 million.

    • Jason Calmes

      January 6, 2012 at 5:34 pm

      Why exactly do we need to sign a free agant for that figure? Why not stand pat, pay more, pay less, do a trade?

      Which free agent?

    • Jo D

      January 6, 2012 at 5:38 pm

      Got a source saying the deal is dead?
      We like credible info around these parts. 🙂

      • Jason Calmes

        January 6, 2012 at 5:49 pm

        We do, don’t we?

        Better to be right and second than wrong and first, at least in my book . . .

    • Jo D

      January 6, 2012 at 5:49 pm

      As of 5:43… Trade had been finalized…
      Henry passed the tests…
      Speights will play tonight…

      • Jason Calmes

        January 6, 2012 at 5:56 pm

        Now Jo . . . do YOU have a source!?!?!

        C’mon, man! Walk that straight and narrow!

      • Jo D

        January 6, 2012 at 6:18 pm

        Same link as pinoyballah posted… It’s an update…
        I’m sorry, I assumed people would check it lol

      • Jason Calmes

        January 6, 2012 at 6:20 pm


        Jo D wins!

      • Jo D

        January 6, 2012 at 6:23 pm

        I hear that often…

  10. Jason Calmes

    January 6, 2012 at 5:36 pm

    If Henry ends up being a good player, it weakens them long term, but they clearly believe they are getting better with their potentially new big. This medical situation raises some questions about that first if.

    Personally, if this medical things works out in Henry’s favor, I think your analysis, and Chip’s, is pretty on the money . . . high likelihood of playing out as you say to a creepy degree.

    • Jo D

      January 6, 2012 at 5:40 pm

      Playing out as who says?

      • Jason Calmes

        January 6, 2012 at 5:48 pm

        Jake, the writer . . . good for us short and long term . . . bad for Memphis long term . . . good for them short term if their other junk works out.

      • Jo D

        January 6, 2012 at 5:51 pm

        Ok… Was wondering who Chip was lol

      • Jason Calmes

        January 6, 2012 at 6:22 pm

        Ah, gotcha. The Memphis guy Jake references.

        Dude, I’m off these days. My head is into something these days, and it’s making me a little nuts.

        Sadly, it’s you guys who have to suffer.

        It’ll be better one day.

  11. DownUnder

    January 6, 2012 at 6:21 pm

    The thing that sticks out at me the most about the trade is something that goes unnoticed. The fact that how on Earth did Dell even get in on this deal. Think about it, Memphis was only looking for a big to produce a little in the place of the injured Zach Randolph and Darrell Arthur. They didn’t get that from the hornets, they got that from the 76ers, we didnt add any sweetner to any team, Phili got nothing from us and we only contributed a second rounder to Memphis. This deal could have been done easily without us but Dell muzzled his way the vault that was this deal and basically was able to steal a valuable item and only leaving a thankyou note.

    If I was a Memphis fan id be asking myself, “why did the Hornets part of the deal need to be included?”

    • DownUnder

      January 6, 2012 at 6:29 pm

      Actually I feel silly now cause that to me about the trade was too good to be true but I see that we were needed because Memphis had to send out salary to take in salary. Still, great work to be the team that was involved out of several others that could have worked.

      • Jason Calmes

        January 6, 2012 at 6:46 pm

        Great point. Of the teams that could have worked here, we chosen by the front offices, both of which Dell had dealings with before.

        To me, that says alot about the way Dell is thought of around the NBA.

        One could make the counter argument that Dell only has reach into a few offices, but that doesn’t explain why he was chosen here. Memphis wanted this deal for a while, as did Philly, but they needed someone else. Dell saw the opportunity and got us value.

        Our piggy bank is getting better and better . . . and that is Dell’s doing.

      • 504ever

        January 6, 2012 at 8:14 pm

        Doesn’t this work for Memphis because they get a 2nd for freeing up a roster spot that they would have had to cut Henry to free up? Also, they don’t eat any of Henry’s 2011-12 salary which they would have done if they cut him.

        For the Hornets, they get Henry for only a year of guaranteed salary. They can afford the years salary and invest playing time in Henry for at least this year. (I suspect the Hornets knew something about Gordon’s knee that led them to believe they need another SG for at least this year.)

        The Hornets give up a 2nd to guarantee they don’t have competition on the waiver wire for Henry.

        This trade seems to work for both teams: win-win.

  12. nikkoewan

    January 6, 2012 at 7:11 pm

    hey, missed commenting on this site. so busy with grad school, but i’m still reading blogs and journals and comments wherever i can find time. That said, GREAT GREAT trade by Demps. Almost an arbitrage opportunity, it’s sick. a riskless investment with a lot of potential return.

    Always wanted the Hornets to pick Henry at 11. As it stands, we got him for free. *slow clap*

  13. J

    January 6, 2012 at 7:15 pm

    Darn i really wanted this trade to be dead an 17% 3pt shooter lol

    • Jo D

      January 6, 2012 at 7:28 pm

      41.8 in college…
      Even if he did shoot 17% in his rookie year where he was hurt and played sparingly…
      So what… 17% is still higher than the accuracy of your info lol

  14. Bower's Woodshed

    January 7, 2012 at 11:13 pm

    GM of the year.

  15. NOS-3rd Gen

    January 9, 2012 at 12:38 pm

    We need to do period.Is Xavier Henry at least great not good on defense?

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