Hornets Beat: Rajon Rondo for Our First, Keepers, Okafor Verus Kaman, and Favorites

Published: March 6, 2012

This week our writers discuss trading for Rondo, who will stick around, Emeka vs Kaman, and who our favorite player is. Plus, the excellent Will Hibert from At The Hive joins us.

1. Is Solomon Jones a keeper?

Mason Ginsberg: I didn’t think so at first based on his prior NBA history, but I like what I’ve seen from him in a Hornets uniform enough to support signing him through the end of the season.

Jake Madison: Sure why not. He’ll probably be further down in the rotation next year so there is no harm having him at the league minimum.

Joe: Sure, as long as he’s getting locked down for near the minimum. If his play so far is any indication, he can fill the back end of a rotation quite nicely. Aaron who?

Will Hibert: If Lance Thomas is, then Solomon is. I think it depends on how the Hornets see the trade deadline working out, because there are already a ton of bigs on the roster, but Jones has done enough to earn a spot if a spot is there.

2. Who are the three current players most likely to be Hornets at this time next year?

Mason: Ayon, Gordon, and… just to be different from Joe, let’s go with Xavier Henry.

Jake: Ayon, Smith, and Jack.

Joe: Gustavo Ayon, Jason Smith, and Eric Gordon.

Will: Gustavo Ayon, Xavier Henry, and Greivis Vasquez

3. Who you got as the better overall player– Chris Kaman or Emeka Okafor?

Mason: Okafor. Kaman’s advantage on offense isn’t enough to account for Okafor’s larger edge on defense. If Kaman’s shot selection was a little better, it may make my decision more difficult, but at this point I say Emeka without hesitation.

Jake: With the improvement Okafor has made in his offensive game, I’m picking him. His defense is solid and, as Mason said, Kaman has terrible shot selection.

Joe: Tough call here. Kaman obviously is better on offense, Okafor on defense, and then they split rebounding. I think that Okafor is hindered by size on defense some nights, and can at times be rendered useless (see: games against bigger athletic centers) so I’ll go with Kaman.

Will: Though most will probably see this as Kaman’s offense against Mek’s D, I actually think Kaman has more value on the defensive end simply due to his hulking size. He influences a ton of shots, and blocks about the same amount as Emeka. Also, I think his low efficiency is less of a problem on a more talented team. His usage rate is through the roof this year, mostly due to necessity. I love Mek, but I’m going with Chewbacca.

4. Would you theoretically trade the Hornets unprotected first rounder for Rajon Rondo?

Mason: A conditional yes. I can’t see the Celtics doing this deal before the trade deadline next week; Rondo has the potential to increase the Hornets’ win total too drastically in the final 25 or so games, therefore lowering the value of that draft pick too much for the Celtics to bite. By the time this trade could realistically occur, the Hornets would probably know what pick they have; if it’s #1, you hold onto it, but otherwise, I’d probably pull the trigger (assuming the Celtics are okay with the pick being in the 2-5 range).

Jake: Without a doubt. Other than basketball reasons you do it to create some excitement. A good chunk of the fan base is upset with the performance on the court. Draft picks are fun and all but they don’t get casual fans excited. They get excited by a big name, and Rondo is one. Plus, he’s one of my favorite players to watch.

Joe: Yeah, I would. For one, if the Hornets picked up Rondo this season, he would lead them to enough wins to leave the chances of getting Davis pretty low. Even if it’s after the season, and the pick has a 1/5 chance of being number one and a 99% chance of being top-five, I’d do it. Rondo-Gordon-Ariza would have the potential to be one of, if not the best perimeter defenses in the league. Offensively they wouldn’t be half bad, either.

Will: Ugh. Grudgingly, yes. Personally, I don’t like Rondo at all, and don’t think putting a guy who can’t shoot at all next to Eric Gordon is ideal. Also, this is a guy who mailed in a season because the C’s traded Kendrick freaking Perkins. What’s his attitude going to be after being traded here? However his talent is too much to pass up for a chance on some unproven commodity.

5. We’re more than halfway through the season. Who is your favorite player?

Mason: I won’t allow myself to have a favorite. After this past offseason, I can’t take the pain of giving my heart and soul to someone who might leave me again! If I had to pick one, though, it’d be either Okafor or Ayon.

Jake: Vasquez. I love his energy and passion on the court. I really hope he cuts down on his turnovers and keeps developing because he is very fun to watch.

Joe: Jason Smith. Surprised? Don’t be. Nobody has elevated their game more from last year to this one than Smith. I also appreciate how badly he wants to get back on the court. It’s not his fault the medical staff says “uh-uh”. He’s also a genuinely fun guy to talk to, and I think he’ll be in town a while.

Will: Ayonnnn! Ayon-Ayon-Ayonnnn! Gustavo Ayon has been a joy to watch this year, and enjoying his small successes this year brings me back to watching Darren Collison and Buckets run up and down the court on a struggling Hornets team two years ago. Watching rookies getting shine on a bad team can give people a reason to watch.


  1. nikkoewan

    March 7, 2012 at 2:45 am

    I’m with Mason on the Rondo trade – it’s a begrudging Yes. Like “err, fine. sure”.. Rondo’s too much of a talent to pass up. However, to make the trade easier, maybe add a top 1 protection for 2012 and then unprotected in 2013. I’m just not ready to give up Davis for Rondo. Sullinger and Robinson? Sure. Davis? No no. And to compensate for that protection, maybe add Aminu?

    • nikkoewan

      March 7, 2012 at 2:45 am

      I meant easier to swallow.

    • Pluto D

      March 7, 2012 at 3:20 am

      I still wouldn’t trade a Robinson or Sullinger for Rondo, gotta say. Eric Gordon and Rondo don’t seem compatible. Both like the ball in their hands. Rondo’s good, but can’t hit a jump shot or FT for his life

      • edbballin504

        March 7, 2012 at 8:01 am

        I agree, I think you guys are falling too much in love with Rondo. He’s solid, but we don’t have the proper type of team (as currently assembled) for him to make us anything more than a 1st round and out playoff team. Plus, his attitude will be a huge headache and issue for us down here. I wanna say he only has 2 more years under contract after this season. Do you really want an unhappy PG for 2 seasons (only to be a 1st round out in the playoffs), or take a chance on a top 5 pick that could be here for a decade, and actually is happy about it, plus maybe turn into a star and give us some deep runs in the playoffs in the future?I’d take option B. Small markets win by drafting well, not by trading or overpaying for free agents.

      • bee dat

        March 7, 2012 at 10:02 am

        he’s got 3 more at reasonable average of 12 mil. I agree that this is not the direction the team seeded to be going in. being an rc buford disciple, I see them trying to pull a lite version of of robinson/duncan – have best player sit out a year, get great in draft therefore being able to have two stars that you can afford to build around (one being on a rookie contract).

        however, rondo gordon is an enticing enough backcourt to alter that plan. I have to say I’d do it if it were top 1 protected or after we found out draft order and did not get the first pick. rondo just turned 26, is an affordable star, and most of all, we’d get to watch good point guard play

  2. Mr. West

    March 7, 2012 at 9:17 am

    Are you kidding me??? Everyone of you trades our pick for Rondo? You guys do know that Chris Paul, Lebron, Melo, Kevin Love, Rose… All these guys were drafted early with a pick like ours… I mean what makes you think this draft is different than that one? I wouldn’t trade our pick for almost anybody in the league. This is a strong draft, and though maybe not quite as good as the Lebron draft, I still am pretty sure atleast one or two superstars will come out just like almost every other draft.

    • Mason Ginsberg

      March 7, 2012 at 9:45 am

      While I agree that this may be the most talented draft since the LeBron draft, you’re never guaranteed to strike gold. For example, check out the last 10 players drafted 2nd overall:

      Derrick Williams, Evan Turner, Hasheem Thabeet, Michael Beasley, Kevin Durant, LaMarcus Aldridge, Marvin Williams, Emeka Okafor, Darko Milicic, Jay Williams

      How many of those players are better than Rondo? I count one definitively (Durant), and probably one other (Aldridge). Jury is still out on Derrick Williams, but I feel pretty comfortable already saying that Rondo’s NBA career will be better than Turner’s. Could you hit a home run? Sure, but it’s not as simple as saying that a top-5 pick guarantees success, even in a draft as deep as this one. There is a totally rational argument for not trading the pick, but there’s a pretty good case for making the trade as well.

      • bee dat

        March 7, 2012 at 10:07 am

        good point on unreliability of draft. there is definitely something to be said for getting a known quantity.

        This years draft is deep, we may still get a quality player with minny’s pick, but outside of davis everyone has a pretty big question mark to me as far as nba success. barnes, sullinger, drummond, beal, even t-rob don’t appear as home runs to me. m-k-g probably is the one I feel the safest bet to have a solid nba career, though not sure about great. I feel pretty similar about t-rob.

    • nikkoewan

      March 7, 2012 at 1:00 pm

      I don’t see Robinson/Sullinger carving a better career than Rondo, especially with the importance of a quick PG nowadays.

      And as other people said, there is something to be said with known quantity. And Rondo IS a known quantity. Those questioning his ability are not seeing the overall picture. Rondo has developed into a great player – one that does not necessarily need Allen | Pierce | Garnett to succeed.

      I agree that Rondo – Gordon is not an ideal pairing – both need the ball in their hands to be effective. And there are statistical suggestions (i heard/read something in Sloan Sports Conference) that having two ball dominant GUARDS is hard to work. But I believe Gordon can carve a role similar to Allen’s. Check out the numbers:

      Player 1 first 3 years (numbers are per36)
      15.7 pts 43% FG, 39% 3PT on 4.2 attempts, 4.6 rebs, 3 assists
      17.5 pts 43% FG, 36% 3PT on 4 attempts, 4.4 rebs, 3.9 assists
      17.9 pts 45% FG, 35% 3PT on 4 attempts, 4.4 rebs, 3.7 assists

      Player 2 first 3 years (numbers are per36)
      16.8 pts on 46% FG, 39% 3PT on 4.5 attempts, 2.7 rebs, 2.9 assists
      16.9 pts on 45% FG, 37% 3PT on 5 attempts, 2.6 rebs, 3 assists
      21.3 pts on 45% FG 36% 3PT on 5 attempts, 2.8 rebs, 4.2 assists

      And if you think both of them can’t co-exist, Allen’s USG% in Boston – 20.1.. Gordon’s USG% in 3 years in LAC – 22.7.. That’s a difference of approximately 3 possessions – not huge.

      Limiting Gordon’s USG can actually help him in the long run – this allows him to expend more energy on the defensive end, or to conserve his energy for late game scenarios (where’s he’s a master at).

      Statistical evidence point that pairing steal generators are actually a “sum is greater than the whole parts” that is having multiple ball hawks on a team can actually augment their ball hawking abilities. And looking at the court, this is true. with Rondo/Gordon/Ariza clogging up the passing lines with each pass on the perimeter, the offense becomes more probable to turn it over. Imagine that, your 1,2 AND 3 (not to mention 4 if you include Ayon there) are one of the best (top 5, top 3) defenders AT THEIR position (Rondo is top 2 for me, Gordon is top 3, Ariza is top 5, Ayon is more top 10). But still, that would be Monty’s wet dream.

      Off course, issues like what Mason expounded are what scares me – how will he react being traded? Can Monty grab a hold of his attitude?

      The reason why I’m putting a top 1 protection on the trade is because I think, Davis is the ONLY player I wouldn’t trade Rondo for. Sullinger/Robinson are primed to be good starters (they’d have a hard time being anything other than that), but Davis is a franchise changer.

      • nikkoewan

        March 7, 2012 at 1:02 pm

        PS: I didn’t go to the SSC, but based on the tweets of a dozen or so I followed who went, there are indications to that ( i think its the study on synergy).

    • NOS-3RD GEN

      March 7, 2012 at 7:51 pm

      I agree with U Mr. West. I wouldn’t give any player in the league for our Top 5 draft pick remember we drafted Chris Paul 4 the overall in 2006. So we basically jus letting CP3 Type go 4. Rajon Rondo don’t think so. We should trade for Rajon Rondo on Draft night for Okafor, Jack & Minnesota draft pick. Then we would have Gordon,Rondo, and our top 5 pick.

      • nikkoewan

        March 8, 2012 at 4:53 am

        That’s terribly unrealistic to expect EVERY top 5 draft pick to go the way of CP3. Maybe I’ll write something about that regarding draft’s and all that stuff just so people can get a primer 🙂

  3. da ThRONe

    March 7, 2012 at 10:30 am

    1. Jones has been solid, but do we really expect him to ever be more than a roster filler?

    2. I would say it a tie and nobody is likely to be here this time next year. Gordon would seem like a sure pick, but I can definitely see a scenario where we sign and trade EJ this off-season.

    3. I have been one of the biggest critics of Okafor since we signed him. However if he plays like he did this year when he returns I’ll take him. If he regress back to the Mek he was the last 2 years I’m taking Kaman. Either way Okafor injury is hurting his stock and with that contract we may be stuck with Emeka anyways.

    4. I don’t know if Rondo is a great fit for us like he is in Boston. He can afford to be almost anemic on offense with that team. We need a PG that can create his own shot(but here’s the kickier he must make that shot).

    5. It’s sad but I still don’t have a favorite player.

    • nikkoewan

      March 7, 2012 at 12:28 pm

      We didn’t sign Okafor. CHA signed him, then traded him to us for Chandler

  4. 504ever

    March 7, 2012 at 11:38 am

    Can someone explain to me why the Celtics get rid of Rondo? For our #1, and say J. Jack? The Celtics have nothing backing up Rondo! It seems a little early to blow the Celtics up, rather than retool.

    • edbballin504

      March 7, 2012 at 12:28 pm

      Its all talk…to keep us talking about something. Media tactic….bottom line though is that he’s not getting traded, especially by the trade deadline. Maybe in the summer or on draft night but no chance he’s gone now.

      • Mason Ginsberg

        March 7, 2012 at 12:39 pm

        Agreed ed, which was the point I was trying to make (for a different reason, but your logic applies as well). There’s still a chance that he could get dealt before the deadline, but it wouldn’t be in a trade with us. They’d deal with a team that would give them comparable talent in return.

      • nikkoewan

        March 7, 2012 at 1:01 pm

        yes odds of Rondo being trade, especially to the Hornets, is close to 0.

      • bee dat

        March 7, 2012 at 4:37 pm

        we’re speaking in hypotheticals obviously in debating would we or wouldn’t we do our 1st for rondo. I don’t think anyone is saying this trade is likely.

        noone knows what’s in danny ainge’s heart or mind, but why wouldn’t he blow it up? anyone think c’s are getting past heat or bulls this year or anywhere in near future. he knows the answer is no. rondo seems like the piece he would want to build around but it may be he does not trust his mental and/or emotional state to build around as a centerpiece. so I would not at all put the chance of a rondo trade at 0.

  5. Jordan

    March 7, 2012 at 3:46 pm

    Slightly off topic, but do you think the Bobcats would swap Tyrus Thomas with Carl Landry, considering how pathetic Thomas has been this year and how long his contract is?

    • bee dat

      March 7, 2012 at 4:31 pm

      i’m sure they would in a heartbeat. Question is would we? Tyrus looked like a baller coming out of school but has not proven yet he can be effective in the nba. carl has.

      • Jordan

        March 7, 2012 at 6:07 pm

        He had a great PER last year, but this year he’s just been horrendous. I think the Bobcats could do better for him, unless with we threw in Aminu.

  6. David

    March 7, 2012 at 4:31 pm

    Why does anyone believe that sullinger will be any better than a shorter version of al Jefferson without the jump shot? Short, stubby, limited athleticism, avg defender at best, he’s a 13-8 guy at his CEILING. Somebody said they wouldn’t trade sully for freakin RONDO???? C’mon man!

    • nikkoewan

      March 7, 2012 at 5:11 pm

      C’mon let’s not go there. Love came out of college with those same things you said – short, stubby, limited athleticism, avg defender at best – and look at where he is now. Not saying Sullinger is the next Love, but the potential is there. Only question is, will he get there?

      Known over the unknown, it’s all part of the game we call NBA.

  7. David

    March 7, 2012 at 5:43 pm

    Love is legit 6’10. He’s also the most skilled big guy to come out in forever. His passing and midrange J were legit in college. He then developed a 3 pt shot ! That being said, his limited athleticism has hindered him in one way: he is still s GOD AWFUL defender.

    • nikkoewan

      March 8, 2012 at 5:08 am

      Of course you’re going to say that, he’s a superstar now. And Love has become an average defender. That said, Love was a superb outlet passer back in college, besides that, he never was much of a passer (he still isn’t) but he’s developed into such a versatile scorer. Couple that with his INSANE rebounding and you have a player for the ages.

      Let’s play a little game, I’ll put in pairs of statistics and let’s see if you can guess who owns it (i’m depending on your honesty not to look it up).

      Stat Lines:
      17 pts, 9.3 rebs, 54% FG, 38% 3PT, 75% FT
      17.5 pts, 10.6 rebs, 56% FG, 35% 3PT, 77% FT

      6′ 9.5″ HGT| 6’11.25″ WS
      6’10” HGT | 7’1″ WS

      Well? Without putting in nominal bias (that is if I name who those players are, then you’ll suddenly have some bias towards one), Those number’s look pretty similar.

      So without divulging who owns those, I think Sully is PROBABLY the next “Love”. of course there is the qualifier “probably” so the question of known vs. unknown still comes to mind. BTW, both played in a good conference (Pac 10 and Big 10), so competition isn’t an issue.

  8. Nithenz

    March 7, 2012 at 6:50 pm

    1) sure, as a 5th big garbage time player. He’s done more than enouth to show he can fill in the last seat in a bench.

    2)Ayon, Emeka and hopefully Ariza

    3)Okafor by far, but would be overviewing the difficult streach Kaman is having (bad team, need to be a fist option in ofense, new team, etc) They are not as far as i think, but prefer Oak defense than Kaman ofense.

    4) having a 1st pick conditional would be great,but as said…sure. Dont want to get into %% of chances to get a Rondo level player, but i would. Also, if it was at the deadline, we wouldnt end as today, but at least ahead in the W column than Pistons, Wizards, Kings, and maybe the Bucks. thats 5 teams picking before us.

    5)The team is my favourite. Seen stars and loved players come and go, good terms or bad terms, and i keep following the Team. I dont care who isin it i will root for the team. imissed everyone that left and welcome anyone that wantto represent MY team. lots of names are coming to my head, and it is not that i just remember the Rice, Jones, Mash, Zo, LJ, Baron and all the “Stars”. I also miss Phills, Ricky Pierce, Augmon, Steve Smith, Hawkins, Dell (specially him… one of the first Hornets i fell in love with his game), Campbell, Chapman, Chalmers, Bogues, Mason, Coleman, Dan D ( =P ), even Nailon. I couldnt find more than 10 players i really hated. ( Quick comes tomind Zidek, Divac, JR Reid and cant think another quick)

  9. Jay

    March 7, 2012 at 9:26 pm

    I feel like I would miss the hope that comes with the chance of getting Davis. With Rondo, I feel like I have an idea of how it would be, though there still is some uncertainty. The mystery that comes with getting a guy like Davis is exciting. I think Rondo could make us a good team, if he didn’t act like a mental case when he got to the team, but Davis could change the franchise. It’d be hard to give up that chance, even if it is a risk.

  10. William

    March 8, 2012 at 10:55 am

    I love the idea of trading for Rondo. His presence could provide great play at the point that Jack or Vasquez can’t provide. While Rondo is known for discipline issues around the league, I feel that with the talent he has it would be worth the risk to gamble on his talents. I have to agree that a trio of Rondo-Gordon-Ariza would be a devastating combination that has potential to wreak havoc in the league for years to come.

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