Hornets Beat: Things that go Bump in the Night

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Published: January 24, 2012

This week’s New Orleans Hornets Beat tackles Gordon’s knee, Okafor’s contract, trades, and ownership.

Plus, The New Orleans Hornets announced today that they have picked up the option for the 2012-13 season for guards Xavier Henry and Greivis Vasquez.  

Jason Smith says "Get OUT!"

1. What’s up with Eric Gordon’s knee?

Jason Calmes: I think his knee is 100% fine. Oh, you mean the other knee . . . The data we have is inconsistent with a severe problem. I have slightly more concern that he’ll have knee problems later in life than a generic player because of the lack of diagnosis, but a diagnosis may mitigate (or validate) my fear.

Michael McNamara: The Hornets are considering giving the man 50+ million dollars. When they brought in Xavier Henry and his 2 million dollar salary in a trade, they ran additional tests to protect themselves. Of course they are going to be cautious when you are talking about that kind of money and committment. Long term, I doubt this is a problem.

Mason Ginsberg: If this turns out to be more serious than we thought, it’s not ALL bad long-term. We’ll obviously continue to be terrible this season, but it likely cements our ability to land a top-5 draft pick, and should drive down Gordon’s market price for a multi-year deal due to unavoidable future injury concerns.

Jake: Right now, I want him back in the lineup to help the team win games. I don’t want there to be any long term issues, but I’ll worry about that later. The Hornets have been competitive in most games this season so having a player like Gordon back is really going to help.

Joe Gerrity: I’m concerned that he’s going to come back after the Hornets have realistically fallen 100% out of the playoff picture, and then lead the team to a .500 record on the way in, destroying the Hornets chances of landing a top pick and darkening the future slightly.

2. Emeka Okafor’s contract is ______.

Jason: A touch too much. Emeka seems to be giving return on that investment. We’re paying $9m for 1y to Carl and Emeka money to Chris (not that one). The contract is one year too long, however. Emeka is on the books for 2 more seasons while the C+C Rebound Factory are set to get their freedom after this season.

McNamara: going to hurt in 2013-14. Right now the Hornets are not contenders and simply need salary on the books to reach the salary cap floor. Next year, they will bring in more youth, as I expect 2-3 rookies to be in the regular rotation. No need for cap room there. But in the summer of 2013, the Hornets have an opportunity to make a splash, bringing in some vets to pair with their young pieces. Okafor is owed 14.5 mil that year. He NEEDS to be gone by then, either by trade or via amnesty.

Mason: Not doing the Hornets any favors given the team’s current rebuilding direction, but not a bad deal overall. Going into the season, I believed he was a little overpaid, but his improved offensive game thus far this season is starting to make me reconsider that assumption. His contract is pretty comparable to a lot of the other starting centers of the NBA.

Jake: Fine for the short term. His offensive game has improved and he one of those glue guys Monty Williams likes. At first, I thought the team would amnesty him for next year but now I’m not so sure. With a very young team next year, Monty will want to keep Okafor for his veteran presence. After that, though, I agree with Michael, he has to be gone.

Joe: Fine. Three years may be a year longer than we’d all like, but Okafor provides defense and rebounding like few other centers do, and his offensive game has really been coming around.

3. Who has more trade value, Ariza, Jack, or Okafor?

Jason: Emeka. Jack is flat-out-out-playing his contract, but who’s dying for a combo guard? Ariza is . . . a niche player, extremely satisfying for those with the particular tastes he suits. Emeka is a reliable, attitude-free big without baggage whose contract isn’t odious to those who need for a big to make a push. Sometimes water is more valuable than gold.

McNamara: Okafor definitely has the least. It is a toss up between Ariza and Jack as both have arguments in their favor. Jack has contract advantages (lower number/2 years instead of 3 remaining), but Ariza has a more needed skillset (lockdown defender). In the end, with wing players set to dominate in the playoffs, I think Ariza gets the nod. Orlando, if you really wanna be a contender, why not get Ariza to put on LBJ, Rose, and Wade? Or you can go with Reddick and Hedo.

Mason: There are arguments for all three. Okafor is a starting-quality center on an expensive yet reasonable contract. Jack is having the best season of his career so far and has a decent deal that ends at the end of next season. Ariza is the most overpaid out of the three but may provide the most sought-after asset for a playoff team – excellent wing defense. I’m going to abstain from giving a concrete answer, because it entirely depends on which teams are buying at the trade deadline.

Jake: They are such different players that it really depends on a team’s needs. If I were starting a team from scratch and had to pick one (contracts included), I’d go with Ariza. Having a lock-down wing defender is incredibly valuable in the playoffs. Look at the Perkins for Green trade last year. The Celtics gave up a solid starting center for a wing defender just to try and lock-down LeBron.

Joe: All have their positives and negatives. Because of the long, high-priced contract that Okafor is under, I’ll rule him out for this year. Jack is playing out of his mind, but as Jason said, combo guards are rarely in high demand. If Ariza keeps playing like he has been since ocming off the the injury, then he’s the non-expiring guy contenders may be calling about most often.

4. What are your thoughts on Mike Dunleavy as a potential owner?

Jason: Nothing. He’s not bringing in the cash; it’s the money that talks, help as he will. Talk to me when the guy who matters shows up . . . and knows the difference between andouille and boudin. Oh, and doesn’t say jaaaaambalaya, riding and nasally. Any idiot can spend $350m, but it takes a special idiot to fit in here.

McNamara: Wouldn’t mind him if he came with someone willing to write big checks. I trust Dunleavy’s basketball mind, but I don’t want this organization to be a Mom and Pop, nickel and dime front office again. The Hornets need to spend like the Spurs, not like the Kings if they want to be a contender down the line.

Mason: Indifferent. While it would be comforting to have an owner with such an experienced (although at times disastrous) NBA background, it would also be nice to have someone with more established local ties than the ones Dunleavy would be bringing to the table.

Jake: It really depends on how he involves himself. Will he be actively involved in running the team? Or will he act more like a quiet advisor to the majority owners? His track record doesn’t worry me so much; I just don’t want him replacing/overriding the current front office.

Joe: Positive. I like the idea of having a basketball guy in the front office, and Dunleavy’s background is second to none in terms of the potential ownership groups we’ve heard about.

5. What are you thoughts on Tom Benson as a potential owner?

Jason: Safe. Benson’s investments in the city, Champions Square particularly, means he has the most to gain by the team being here of anyone I can think today, even more so if the sponsorships align. He and his successors have the most reason to bid high and keep the team here while instantly establishing local and national credit for the franchise.

McNamara: For the city of New Orleans, great. But I don’t think he will give the Hornets the best opportunity for success on the court. I would love to see an owner solely focused on the Hornets. The majority of people in New Orleans already view the Hornets as a second class citizen of sorts when it comes to the sports landscape. I don’t want an owner who feels that way as well.

Mason: I agree with Jason in the sense that it’s definitely a safe move for the city; however, it’s not the best move for the team. The Hornets are already playing second fiddle to the Saints due to fan loyalty, which is understandable due to the enormous gap between their respective tenures with the city. The last thing the franchise needs is to become a secondary priority in the eyes of its owner as well. (Just now realizing that my answer is nearly identical to Michael’s; he’s exactly right.)

Jake: Exactly what Michael and Mason said. The local ties are great and you know the team would be committed to New Orleans, but I’d rather have that and someone who sole focus is on the Hornets.

Joe: On one hand I’d like to see the two teams tied together a bit more since I think that would really benefit the Hornets, but on the other hand I can’t get past the decades of irrelevancy Saints fans put up with, only to be haunted by the possibility that the Saints would wind up in San Antonio after Katrina. Right now Benson looks like a great owner, but don’t forget that Sean Payton had to put up $250,000 out of his own pocket to bring on the defensive coordinator he wanted.

33 comments
David
David

Anthony Davis will be a PREMIER defender in the NBA. If you were to team him up with an interior defender like Okafor and an excellent perimeter defender like Ariza, what NBA frontcourt would be better on defense? Guys block to foul ratio is like 2.5-1! Okafor's undersized at 6-10. DWest was 6'8, Landry 6'7-6'8. You need a big, athletic PF to play next to him in order to maximize his potential.

David
David

I still say if you pair Okafor up with a stud PF, he is a very good starter on a championship team. Okafor is a great interior post defender, shot blocker, and rebounder. His offensive numbers are never going to be great, because Monty doesn't run much of the offense through him. His biggest problem, being undersized, has been exposed because he has played next to undersized, below the rim PFs like West and landry. If you pair him with a high flying, above the rim PF like an Anthony Davis or Drummond - along with a premier wing defender like Ariza, you have probably the best defensive frontcourt in the whole NBA. I love Thomas Robinson from Kansas, but I just don't see him fitting in well next to Okafor as he is a bit undersized as well. I want to get the Lakers and Rockets on the phone and try to figure out a way to move Landry and/or Kaman's expiring contracts in a Pau Gasol deal and get Lowry out of Houston somehow. Something like Gasol to Houston, Lowry to New Orleans, Kevin Martin-Carl Landry-Jack to the Lakers as the main pieces would be a great deal. I love Kyle Lowry as a player.

SadHornetsFan
SadHornetsFan

okafor is a very good defender and rebounder, but some of your comments over rate him a little bit. "best defensive frontcourt in NBA"- whoah. Best case scenario would be to move Oak, but if we can't, i agree, he is still a solid center.

Michael McNamara
Michael McNamara

Luol Deng goes down with a fairly serious injury- add another team that could use the services of Ariza. Even if Deng comes back, Ariza would be a guy Chicago would love to match up with the Heat. They don't have much to offer, but maybe they can get a third team involved who might want Brewer or Korver. And no, they wont give up Asik or Gibson, so no need to wish for that. Jimmy Butler is a guy Monty and Dell liked a lot coming out this year, so maybe: Ariza for Butler, CJ Watson (expiring), and a pick or two

simon
simon

Has anyone ever used incentive based contracts in the NBA? I know it happens in other sports so why not with Gordon. Option 1; go for a scalebale contract that is based on GP per season. 5 years, between 45-65 mil scaling from 55 GP to 70 GP with increases per 5 GP in between. Option 2; 3 years 41 mil. See what he says. If he's fully fit and goes with the second one then he'll get extended and earn himself some extra cash. If he's not then we can always waive him using those new injured player provisions in the new CBA thus sustaining a less onerous financial hit. Also, punishes his value in his next contract so he loses some cash. if he goes with the first and plays alot of games then he gets a little under market value (i'm thinking he's worth a 5 year 70 mil deal if he's consistently giving you 75 games a year) but takes away the risk inherent in a shorter deal for less cash.. Thoughts? As for Mek, i'd rather see Kaman gone for a mid first rounder and a decent young player. Looking into trading him to the Nets wouldn't be the worst, maybe we could get humphries? Seems like the kind of player monty would like. Maybe trade him to the t-wolves for the Utah pick and one of their thousand of combo forwards.. (I still love beasley and randolph as monty projects) In this scenario I'm imagining the jazz pick to be in the 18-21 range

James Online
James Online

Over the past two full seasons Eric Gordon has not played in 34% of his team's game because of injury. This year he's missed 88%. Who in their right mind would extend the contract of a walking DL? The knee injury may not have been properly revealed before the trade, or may have been missed by the Hornets' doctors coming in. In the first instance, the trade could possibly be anulled, or remodeled. In the second instance, tough luck. Either way, it makes no sense to extend, and that's likely what the league will decide to do.

SadHornetsFan
SadHornetsFan

i don't get it man...this team absolutely has to lock up gordon. there is no better player to build around in our situation. lock him up and we have a chance to be something in the next few years. if we don't, we can all continue to enjoy watchin marco go 2/69 for a while.

ImSorryMonty
ImSorryMonty

Again, top 20 players who play defense do not grow on trees.

da ThRONe
da ThRONe

Gordon isn't a top 20 player. I can name 25-30 players right now that's better than Gordon. Not that EJ won't get there, but it probably won't be before 2 years. Especially when he's clearly injury prone.

J
J

Gordon will not get the extension yahoo sports says well another trade drama is a coming.

J
J

www.atthehive.com

Jason Calmes
Jason Calmes

J, you can't just post stuff like that, dude. You see how much I have to write. Do me a favor here, and I think do yourself a favor: Next time you post: say what's bothering you, post a link to the specific thing if you can, then say what about the link bothers you, then, lastly, ask people what they think about it. Please.

okithor
okithor

That is why I posted it. All there is from J is Doom and Gloom?

504ever
504ever

These websites say nothing like what J said. They are just a rehash of what we already know. Can we just band J now and save everyone the aggravation?

Jason Calmes
Jason Calmes

Got a source, J, or just speculating?

504ever
504ever

Oh yeah, 42, your Voltaire/Hall quote would make more sense if we were taking J's free speech rights in the entire world, rather than just at Hornets 247!

Jason Calmes
Jason Calmes

Speaking as someone who'll be one of the first up against the wall, I don't see it that way. Freedom sometimes? Freedom sort of? If a person is going to respect the people here, even if he's `off', then why shouldn't he be allowed to type and others allowed to skip. Every year we have to trot out something saying behave yada yada yada. This hasn't nearly reached that level, but I'm just saying that these flare-ups happen, especially during emotional times. Right now, things are getting tense. Losing, the extension or non-extension, the knee likely non issue that seems to have been needlessly and irresponsibly blown out of propotion on many fronts (jury is still out), etc. etc. and this is the kind of stuff the superposition of such things causes. Remember the Marcus + losing + Christopher Paul era? I do. J has violated the posting guideless less than the people criticizing his posting, if at all, despite personally frusting me more than the criticizers (oh, irony). So, I would suggest that feedback be left, like "I'mSorryMonty" and others have regarding the `image' of the site, and ignore the posts that frustrate you just as you would an annoying passenger on a plane: it's impossible to not notice, but your stuck going to same place . . . buckle up.

504ever
504ever

42, if you have to write this much, and have to assume J actually wants to be taught to justify his behavior, there is a message you are sending yourself about J.

Jason Calmes
Jason Calmes

I didn't write alot for J. I wrote alot for Doghouse. Dude's upset. I felt like telling him why he's not going to get the relief from me he requested. It's not about J. It's about freedom of speech and doing what's right.

ImSorryMonty
ImSorryMonty

I mean he literally makes a BOLD FACED LIE quoting a source that did not report anything of the like. It's one thing if he has his opinion but at this point it sincerely looks like his only objective is pissing off the staunchest of Hornets supporters.

ImSorryMonty
ImSorryMonty

Ok, but we also pointed out the bright side of things going on and didn't speak in absolutes that have no factual basis while making his absolutes sound "informed". What if, per chance, no one called this clown on his crap and 5 random Hornets STH stroll by this site and see this idiot make a comment that is completely untrue but THEY don't know this idiot and see his comments on every thread. And then they go and tell their friends this lie and so on. It's detrimental for our fanbase to have people like this on the foremost Hornets blog on the Internet. You may not want to piss off fellow site "supporters", but in the end, what's worse, banning a negatard that will NEVER show up at any 247 event or be useful at any juncture to this website, or letting him go around spewing nonsense that is detrimental to the product YOU cover.

Jason Calmes
Jason Calmes

You are right about the both sides. Absolutely. That's why no matter what we differ on, we have common ground. I can tell you for a fact, a fact, that people from all sides of the Hornets franchise read this site, and, on occasion, discuss what we say in meetings, and when I say meetings, I mean the mahogany row types. I say this now to chest beat . . . we don't need to chest beat among ourselves here. As far as I'm concerned, we are all equal. We all perform our functions, and all are needed. I say this because I want to you to know that your points are perhaps more valid than you know. Two things: 1) One of my favorite quotes is a misattribution to Voltaire, but was actually by a biographer that was trying to sum up his attitude. The quote (originally in English): "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." - Evelyn Beatrice Hall I hold this dear . . . dearer than most things. 2) One thing you may not know about me is that I was a teacher at one point. College. I had many a teacher in my life that gave me extra attention, not because they believed I was in any way special, but because I needed more teaching (if not in the subject), and they were they type of person to do the right thing. Those people changed my life for the better, and they are likely why I'm still alive. The minute I think anyone it's not longer worth it, I'll bring it up to the guys, and I'm sure they'll agree, as I interact with you guys the most. I'm just explaining why my threshhold is the way it is; you guys deserve that. Changing one negative guy could be ten times as valuable as the 10 casual folks that are turned off, and it could be also only be a tenth as valuable. I'm not in this for valuable, though. J isn't attacking other people (a no no). He's attacking the team. I don't like it. I like posing solutions, realistic solutions, or at least thinking `out loud', at some point instead of just point and saying, "Somebody needs to do something about that." The quote "Gordon will not get the extension yahoo sports says well another trade drama is a coming" I don't think J was lying. I think he's not the best communicator or typist . . . two things I'm soooo sympathetic to . . . and he was saying that Eric wouldn't get the extension (as reported by Yahoo). Then he laments that the trade drama is coming. My red pen says "Gordon will not get the extension [that] yahoo sports says [he will .] well[,] another trade drama is a coming[, I fear.]" Now, J has work to do. But how would you want to be treated if you just had something you wanted to say, and the only people you had to say it to were these people you've never met, and you weren't that good at saying it. Would you want them, to try to work with you, to give you that grace? Of course. That's an unfair question. Let me rephrase: Doghouse (sorry, i just love that name, dude), knowing that this is how I see it, can you understand why I'm working with him? Clearly, I want your feedback here (and others) and I want to you know that you are heard, even if you don't see `compliance'. I also want you to know, with sadness, that we've had to ban (I think) two people. At least 1 was after numerous warnings etc. and it was due to repeated attacks on people, not for not liking the team. I have moderated comments in the chats for repetition, however.

ImSorryMonty
ImSorryMonty

he literally goes around spewing negative crap on every thread with no factual basis

Jason Calmes
Jason Calmes

I know. I also know both of us have been accused of the same thing, yeah?

ImSorryMonty
ImSorryMonty

Dude, you suck. Go away. Ban this fool. All he ever does is spread negative troll bullshit detrimental to this team and the franchise.

Nik
Nik

link? where did you see that?

da ThRONe
da ThRONe

Okafor is not the anchor of a championship team and never will be. However for a team where you can have him be what he is a 4th option and really good post defender he can be a starter on a championship team. For us we can't afford the price tag for a guy who can't be at the least the 2nd option. Final analyst on Emeka. Although his play has improved offensively he'll never be a 18-10/15-12 guy or a feared shot blocker. To me a guy making 12.5mil this year 13.5 next year and 14.5 the last year should be giving you one of those 3. We should trade him ASAP. Jack is having a great statistical year so far. However as we are seeing winning at the PG position is more than just logging stats. Jarrett is a great point coming off the bench a "Jamaal Crawford" type. Final analyst on Jarrett. Jack contract isn't a big deal, but this team is at best 2-3 years away from being a contender. We should not be keeping guys who will most likely be on the down swing when we should be looking to start making a push. Ariza has really shown up this year. Of any of the 3 questionable contracts Ariza is the one we should consider keeping. He's 2 years younger than Jack and 3 younger than Okafor. Like some have mentioned wing defenders are very valuable, let alone if his offensives game continues to improve and becomes consistent. Final analyst on Trevor. If we had to keep any of the 3 I would prefer it be Ariza. Realistically though packaging him with Jack and/or Okafor only makes the deal that much more attractive to any potential suitors.

504ever
504ever

According to usually reliable http://hoopshype.com, Henry and Vasquez have options in the 2013/14 season at $3.2M and $2.15M respectivley. Yet the press release says the Hornets have picked up their 2012/13 option. Anyone have correct info. about this?

Joe P
Joe P

I know the Hornets are rebuilding, but at some point they are going to need a center again. Okafor is a top notch center. He's not Bynum or Howard, but the Hornets have Okafor right now, and have no center on the way. 2013-2014? Playoffs. Ariza, Gordon, and Mek is a really good core. I know it's all temporary, but the Hornets have an elite bigman rotation right now, and the starting 3man spot locked up. Unfortunately they have a backup combo guard and it seems like no other championship rotation players else besides that. So my point is, if I were Dell Stern, I'd only trade Okafor for another long-term true center, and Ariza for another long-term starter, but I'd trade Jack for whatever value I could get... sell high and all that. Belli, Vazzy, Gordon, the Johnsons: the Hornets can lose games developing/showcasing those guys instead of bleeding poor Jack. Maybe Jack to the Knicks for a bunch of young role players? Yay trade machine! But yeah, Ariza, Oak, Gordon, (and Smith?) + some development and new guys, + DellMonty = Playoffs 2014. Geaux NBA Draft 2012!

NO-CHI
NO-CHI

I'm sorry. You can't trade Jack. Without Gordon, the team will get blown out of the building if they don't have Jack. Let me run his statline, 16.6 PPG, 7.4 APG, 4.3 RPG, 18.54 PER. Not a bad drop off from Paul in terms of production, (while an extra 3 inches never hurt anybody below 7"6). And while I agree with you on not trading Emeka, I also believe that if the right deal comes along, that we take it. Now keeping in the mind the lack of consistent Jumpshooting this season, Deals that I would consider Kirk Hinrich and Zaza Pachulia from Atlanta Brad Miller and Marco Jaric from Minnesota DeMarcus Cousins and John Salmons from Sacramento If the Hornets start the talks on one of these deals, expect them to offer Kaman first, if it's the other way. Okafor's going to be the piece. (Note, we have to waive someone too.) 1st off - Kirk Hinrich and Zaza Pachulia - Hinrich is an excellent and versatile defender, being able to guard the 1, 2, and 3. He was also the starting Point Guard in Chicago for about 7 years until Derrick Rose came along. Hinrich then shifted to backup Combo Guard in Rose's Rookie Season, and starting Off-Guard late in the 2009-2010 season. Hinrich excels at 3-Point Shooting. His presence would take the load off of Ariza defensively, and Jack offensively. As well as providing a stability for the bench when Gordon comes back. He makes 8.1 million this year, his last year on the current contract. - Pachulia has about the same skill set as Okafor. The dropoff from Okafor is the ability to step up the inside defensive game in crunch time. Pachulia makes 4.7 million with a contract extending for next season as well. Together's it's an increase of about $300,000 for this season. 2. Brad Miller and Marko Jaric - Miller is a 7"0 and can shoot the 3-Pointer which provide matchup problems. Miller is an excellent guy to have when having young bigs. (One example is with Joakim Noah, a now defensive premier Center in Chicago. Noah said that he learned a lot from Miller.) - Jaric would provide some additional depth. - Neither contract is as big as the preconceptions. Miller makes about 4.75 this season and has two years left. Jaric clocks in with slightly more at about 4.8. Even having both cuts about 3 million in salary if Okafor is traded and about 5 million if Kaman is dealt. 3. DeMarcus Cousins and John Salmons - Cousins is young, athletic, and clearly the Kings have had enough of his attitude. Another young player would be excellent. New Orleans is a harsh city to deal with. Work with them and they love you forever. Go Bad, and you're booted. No exceptions. - The Swingman Salmons is an excellent scorer when hot, the one-down side is that his game consists of driving to the basket and working outside from there. His contract is about 8.5 million for 4 years. But he's basically included to land us Cousins. (Even with Cousins, though, the Hornets are still cutting salary and that's with Okafor.) All that would be asked of Salmons is to score and defend against any perimeter guy that is currently burning the Hornets. (Not because he's a defensive menace but because it means Ariza and Jack can keep the offense halted to that ONE player. Bad Boy Piston on Jordan Plan. One Perimeter Player in Iso can only go so far against a full team.) Personally, I would prefer #1 and #2 to both happen. Miller and Hinrich make an excellent bench. An added bonus is that even if two of these trades do occur, there will be players who have played with each other. Hinrich, Salmons, and Miller all spent a season together over a 2-Season Span with Rose and Noah in Chicago. (The only two guys who were there throughout the whole period without suffering a season-ending injury. (Deng) )