Looking to the Future: Veteran NBA Prospects

Published: April 7, 2012

Time to go off the grid as we look at some candidates for Demps to pursue with our two top-10 picks.

In every edition of this column, we have looked at college players that the Hornets might draft this June, but what if those picks are used to grab guys already in the league? What if Demps looks at his draft board and doesn’t like what he sees, and instead, decides to go the veteran route? When healthy, the Hornets have looked like a fringe playoff team this season, and you gotta believe that Demps has noticed as much. If the ping pong balls don’t bounce our way, could Demps use his two top 10 picks to grab some young veterans that can help right away?

If our pick falls to 5 or 6, you have to think that this is at least a strong possibility. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Anthony Davis, and Thomas Robinson are almost too good to pass on, but can the Hornets and their new owner afford to spend 2-3 years waiting on Andre Drummond? Are Harrison Barnes, Bradley Beal, or Jared Sullinger guaranteed difference makers? Maybe, maybe not. But what I can guarantee is that Monty and Dell will feel the pressure to succeed in the final year of their contracts, and the new owner will want to make some sort of splash after spending $350 million on his new toy. Also, think of the push to re-sign Eric Gordon. He would be far more excited to stay if you put an All-Star veteran next to him, as opposed to a mistake prone 19-year-old. And if none of that persuades you, here is one more little nugget- the Hornets are the only team in the league that don’t have one player they drafted on the roster. Now, all of a sudden they are gonna add two?

So, in this edition we will assume the Hornets have the fifth pick and the tenth pick in the upcoming draft. We will look at young veterans that are both proven and still have some room for growth and teams that might be willing to move them. Think 2001 when the Chicago Bulls fell in love with Tyson Chandler and traded a young future All-Star in Elton Brand for him. And with that in mind, here are some older prospects that the Hornets could land with their pick(s):

Rajon Rondo, G, Boston Celtics

Why Do It: If the Celtics are one and done in this year’s playoffs or they get swept/embarrassed in the 2nd round, they could blow the whole thing up, and apparently they are not in love with the idea of Rondo being the leader of the new core. Obviously, the Celtics have to be intrigued with the idea of pairing Doc Rivers with his son, and they also could fall in love with a guy like Harrison Barnes, who could become the next Paul Pierce. For the Hornets, pairing Rondo and Gordon would give the Hornets the best back court in the NBA and could give them the best trio of wing defenders in the league (w/Ariza).

Why Say No: For the Celtics, it might be hard to sell the fan base on a total rebuild. Rondo has a reasonable contract for a quasi-Superstar, and whoever they draft is just an unproven kid, and this franchise is used to chasing banners- not going through a rebuild. The only worry for the Hornets would be Rondo’s attitude, which could disrupt what appears to be a pretty tight clubhouse. Rondo wants to be THE MAN, and you would think that Eric Gordon has similar desires, so it might be difficult for a coach on the last year of his contract to get two young guys to put their egos aside and play for team.

What it Would Cost: The Celtics gave up the 5th pick in the 2008 draft for Ray Allen, and he was at the end of his prime. Rondo is just entering his prime, so you would have to believe that they would have to give up more than just their first pick. The Celtics have two first round picks themselves, though they will be in the 20’s, but the two teams can get creative if they want to get a deal done.

The Deal:

Hornets select Harrison Barnes (5th) and Austin Rivers (10th), then trade their rights, along with Greivis Vasquez to Boston for Rajon Rondo, Brandon Bass, and Boston’s two first rounders.

Josh Smith, PF, Atlanta Hawks

Why Do It: If the Hornets have four of the five starting positions penciled in next year, and those names include Jack, Gordon, Ariza, and Okafor, then what you need is an athletic player who can change shots on the defensive end and get buckets at the basket on the offensive end. Smith fits in perfectly with that lineup, and the Hawks need to shake things up or risk staying in the middle of the pack forever.

Why Say No: The Hawks will have a lot of interest for Smith this summer, and would rather attach him to a bad contract like Joe Johnson or Marvin Williams, if possible. The Hornets might not want to give up too much because Smith will be a free agent after the 2012-13 season and could leave for nothing.

What it Would Cost: Gerald Wallace, a similar player (in some ways) with a similar contract was traded for what should be the 6th or 7th pick in this draft- but that was just a stupid trade. The Hornets won’t give up their top pick for a guy like Smith, but the 10th pick wouldn’t be out of the question.

The Deal:

Hornets send the 10th pick to Atlanta for Josh Smith OR the Hornets send the 10th pick, Al-Farouq Aminu, and Emeka Okafor for Josh Smith and Marvin Williams

LaMarcus Aldridge, PF, Trailblazers

Why Do It: Portland showed this year at the deadline that they are tired of being a middle of the pack team, and that they are ready to start over. Some might think that Aldridge is an ideal block to build around, but others like TrueHoop’s own Henry Abbott, believe that he will be past his prime by the time the franchise turns it around. For the Hornets, the argument for Aldridge is similar to the one for Smith, as he would be a perfect fit in between Ariza and Okafor. Another bonus is that the Hornets don’t have to worry about Aldridge going anywhere, since he has three years left on his deal.

Why Say No: The Blazers are far more likely to say no in this deal, simply because their fan base is reeling after losing Brandon Roy and Greg Oden in a span of eight months. Those two, along with Aldridge, were supposed to be the foundation for a Portland dynasty. But perhaps that is the exact reason Portland should move him– start fresh, move on. For the Hornets, the only reason to say no would be if the price was too high, which brings us to…

What it Would Cost: Aldridge is a legit All-Star who still has some upside. Add that to the fact that Portland already has two lotto picks, and it might be hard to do a deal. But what if the New Jersey pick lands in the top three and Portland has to wait at least another year to get it? Then, things could get interesting.

The Deal:

Portland trades Aldridge, Shawne Williams, and the 13th pick for the 5th pick and the 10th pick.

Stephen Curry, PG, Warriors

Why Do It: Obviously the Hornets were in love with Curry in December when they tried to make him a part of a package for Chris Paul. The Warriors balked at the trade then, and must feel incredibly stupid for doing so now. Golden State might want to move on after a frustrating year dealing with Curry’s injuries. They also are shifting their focus to the defensive end and Curry is a below average defensive player. The Hornets can cover this up because Gordon is an exceptional defender who can cover the opposing team’s best back court player. The Warriors do not have the same luxury with Klay Thompson.

Why Say No: Even if Gordon plays the rest of the games this season, he and Curry will have combined for a grand total of 41 games played this season. It’s enough to have one injury prone star, but having two means you are just banking on good fortune to smile on you more often than it does most franchises. For the Warriors, they likely think that Curry can still be a star and heard it from their fans the last time they traded a star player, so they might be hesitant to deal another one.

What it Would Cost: The Warriors are another team that might have a high lottery pick, and they might not. If their pick is in the top 7, they keep it. If it falls outside of that, it goes to the Jazz. Their owner has promised the fans that they will get their pick back or go and get another pick in this draft, and Curry might be the only way to live up to that promise.

The Deal:

Hornets trade Emeka Okafor and the fifth pick for Andris Biedrins and Stephen Curry

Dwight Howard, C, Magic

Why Do It: The Hornets take a big risk here, giving up a potential future star for one year with Dwight Howard, but you get so few chances in the NBA to give yourself an opportunity for a title, that you have to consider anything and everything that gives you a shot. The Magic, meanwhile, have to end this saga and the best thing to do is blow it all up and start over again with youth.

Why Say No: The Magic supposedly want veterans in return for Howard, so that they continue to lie to their fan base by telling them they are contenders. The Hornets, meanwhile, could (and should) be scared off by Howard’s immaturity and wishy-washiness.

What it Would Cost: The Magic have turned down packages that include Andrew Bynum and Brook Lopez, so the Hornets will not only have to give up picks, but they will have to take on bad contracts. They also might have to ship some young guys to the Magic along with the picks.

The Deal:

Magic trade Dwight Howard, Glen Davis, and Jason Richardson for Xavier Henry, Gustavo Ayon, 5th pick, and 10th pick.

Other possibilities: Brandon Jennings (Bucks), Rudy Gay (Grizzlies), Danny Granger (Pacers), Evan Turner (76ers), Anderson Varejo (Cavs), DeMarcus Cousins (Kings)

Looking to the Future is a weekly feature that runs every Saturday only on Hornets247.com. For past articles, click here.


  1. Babyboi5

    April 7, 2012 at 9:28 am

    Like the trade for Rondo. If it can happen, Hornets would have a very good backcourt, probably our best backcourt since the Hornets came to N.O.

    • ImSorryMonty

      April 7, 2012 at 12:46 pm

      I’m with you on the Rondo trade. Than we can grab 2 proven college winners at the end of the 1st. Say Royce White, Tyshawn Taylor, Draymond Green or the like. I’m high on Drew Gordon too but that’s a reach in the 1st round. We have more than enough projects in Henry/Aminu/Vasquez/Ayon. We don’t need many more.

  2. George

    April 7, 2012 at 9:35 am

    You really think we could get Josh Smith for the 10th pick? I would do that in a heartbeat. I’d even be willing to give up the 10th pick for Kemba Walker.

    • George

      April 7, 2012 at 9:37 am

      This is presuming Beal or Sullinger don’t fall to us

  3. da ThRONe

    April 7, 2012 at 9:56 am

    In any salary cap sport the key to being successful consistently is drafting well. Sometimes drafting well is merely the luck of the draw, but it’s mostly due diligence and that all important eye for talent. If Dell Demps is the GM for us he has to have the ability to draft well.

    With that premise I’m completely against trading away our draft picks. If anything I’m hoping Double D is putting together packages to acquire more picks in such a deep draft. If some key underclassmen declare we could be looking at one of the most productive draft class ever from start to finish. I’ve said this before I see no clear cut franchise changer, but I see a plethora core players.

  4. Hornet

    April 7, 2012 at 11:04 am

    What about Paul Millsap?

    He’s going to be an expiring and they have Favors behind him. If Golden State gets their pick back, or even Utah sneaks into the playoffs, Utah could be looking at losing either one or two first rounders. Millsap is a Louisiana guy who was born around here and went to school here that would be Monty’s type of player. I think if we end up taking MKG or Drummond (basically anyone that’s not a PF) with our first pick, we should go for Millsap using the 10th pick to complete a core of Gordon, MKG/Drummond, Millsap.

    My trade proposal:

    Jarrett Jack, Xavier Henry, the #10 pick for Paul Millsap.

    • ImSorryMonty

      April 7, 2012 at 12:43 pm

      That is a ton to give up for an expiring Paul Millsap. Our 2nd best player, our best young prospect and a top 10 pick?

      • Hornet

        April 7, 2012 at 3:20 pm

        Jarrett Jack is not a long term piece. He can’t be the 2nd best player on this team for long. The team would be better off with point guards who can distribute really well so that our young guys can develop properly. Xavier cost us a 2nd rounder – players like him are a dime a dozen. The 10th pick might end up being someone like Terrence Jones, Tyler Zeller, or Perry Jones. I like these guys, but Paul Millsap is a guy that fits our system and gives the production of a 3rd banana. His PER this year is almost a 23, and his win shares are right in the ball park of Griffin and Aldridge.

        Also I don’t think the expiring thing is a huge deal. Paul doesn’t seem like the type of guy who would dream of playing in the spotlight. We’ll have the space to pay him most likely and the fact he’s from around here should give us a pretty good chance of retaining him.

  5. Chuck

    April 7, 2012 at 12:30 pm

    Honestly I’m not really a fan of any of these…

    Rajon Rondo: There must be a reason Rondo rumors sprout up every year. I think (based on nothing but hearsay) he’s probably a malcontent and hard to coach, even if he is spectacular on a great contract. Not sure if I want a guy like that influencing a young team.

    Josh Smith: See Rajon Rondo.

    Lamarcus Aldridge: Pretty sure the Blazers are committed to building around him. Also, I don’t see a core of Eric Gordon, Aldridge, and Okafor going any farther than the second round at its peak against the likes of the Clippers, Thunder, and and Mavs once they get Deron/Dwight.

    Steph Curry: He and Gordon don’t seem at all complimentary. Honestly if they are both healthy I’d rather have Curry, maybe because I haven’t seen Gordon play enough (hmmmmmm) but at this point I’d only take on Steph Curry if he came with the Suns’ training staff.

    Dwight Howard: No no no no no, god no. Huge fan of the guy’s game, but seriously he’s been such a little sh!t this year that I’m surprised Stan Van Gundy hasn’t had him taken out Tonya Harding style.

  6. ImSorryMonty

    April 7, 2012 at 12:53 pm

    This is a great read on Drummond for all interested btw.


    Sorry if Germans.

  7. Dr. Hamburg

    April 7, 2012 at 1:01 pm

    The only deal I would consider is for Rondo. Is Jack/Gordon/Ariza/Smith/Okafor any better than anything that was here when CP3 was in town? The Aldridge deal makes sense for the Hornets, but I think at best that gets the Hornets 4th in the west but nowhere near the level of the Thunder, and close but not close enough to the Lakers and Clippers. With the Super teams that are around now, the best bet I think for the Hornets is to hope to strike gold in the draft.

  8. J

    April 7, 2012 at 2:44 pm

    Boston will want our pick at 10 to draft Austin Rivers i hope we can get either Rondo and/or drop down to 22nd pick

  9. Jo D

    April 7, 2012 at 3:55 pm

    I’m for one of Robinson/MKG/Davis with the first pick. (in that order)
    And Marshall with the second pick.

    If thats not possible, then Rondo would be nice.
    But I’d give up the later pick for him… Along with jarret jack and some combination of players to make the salary work…
    This is being touted as a very deep draft and the draft in 07 wasn’t… So it’s conceivable picks are worth more this year… However we won’t know for certain for years…

    Also I’d almost be content letting Jason Smith start next year… The guy has earned the shot…

    Also, if we could find a way to get a mid teens pick… Tyler Zeller would make an outstanding back up center and physical presence

    • Jo D

      April 7, 2012 at 3:56 pm

      Sorry that’s all over the place

  10. Jason Calmes

    April 7, 2012 at 3:58 pm

    Who exactly has Chris Paul made better?

    Names and data.

    Who got better here when Chris was here? Who got better after he left? Feel free to ignore Ariza, Smith, Belinelli if you want. Okafor too (see a post of Mason’s) from earlier this season http://www.hornets247.com/blog/2012/02/03/emeka-okafors-offense-why-the-box-score-doesnt-tell-the-whole-story/ when the dude was getting time).

    Who got better on the Clippers? Their winning percentage is up 20% from last year, which will project out to about 13 wins more over the course of this season. Last year, EJ was worth about 5 wins, and Kaman and Aminu were worth less than one each. Let’s call that package worth 7 wins (largely due to playing time, but we are comparing what happened, not potential) and scale it to 6 for this season. Chris is worth about 10 so far this year, and let’s assume he makes it to 11. This means there are 6 wins left to account for. These 6 wins will be due to the `Chris Paul Effect’ and the other roster moves, like the addition of Foye and Billups.

    Foye looks to be legitimately playing better with Chris, but other guys are not. Here, Ariza is playing better this year than last with Mr. Doesn’t Get Anyone Going Jack (sarcasm). Smith. etc.

    Plus, the question isn’t whether adding a player like Paul helps the team or other players; the question is whether the addition of Chris would help people as much as adding any other player of that quality (e.g. James), which is tough. It being tough means it isn’t open-and-shut though. It is this assumption that I’m challenging the most here.

    Someone is going to say that’s another year in the system etc. etc. that’s making the WS/48 change, but really is the system the same with or without Chris Paul? Really? Is our drop due to the loss of the true point guard master rather than only due to the loss of a star? or two . . . or three counting Gordon since we couldn’t replace him for the season with anyone who’d want a long-term deal . . .

    I don’t see it. I didn’t dig into it at the depth required for an article, but I’d love to see someone else do so before I get around to it.

    http://www.basketball-reference.com/ and 82games.com for info on wins etc.

    • Jack

      April 7, 2012 at 5:42 pm

      Bravo, i say bravo

  11. 504ever

    April 7, 2012 at 7:29 pm

    This is where I lose you: “If the Hornets have four of the five starting positions penciled in next year, and those names include Jack, Gordon, Ariza, and Okafor,”

    I believe we need a young, quick, athletic PG most of all. We might be able to get one in the draft or via trade. Maybe trade our Minni pick (around 10th) for a young PG and their 1st round pick. But for who? Bledsoe is only one year more experienced. Knight, also one one year more experienced, will likely stay in Detroit. Is Goran Dragic the answer? Darren Collison? Home boy D.J. Augustin? Certainly not head case Jennings.

    Also disagree with you here: “what [we] need is an athletic [PF] who can change shots on the defensive end and get buckets at the basket on the offensive end.” David West was none of those things, and a great player for the Hornets.

    An upgrade at PF would be nice. I’d do 10th pick for Smith, assuming I could get back in the draft by trading down from the 5th pick and get a PG like Marshall, But that is a lot of dealing. Also, I’d do 5th pick for Aldridge, but not the 5th and 10th; we still need to draft a pure PG. The only person I’d trade the 5th and 10th pick for is Howard, but I wouldn’t give away Ayon, too, especially with all of the garbage you have us taking back (and can’t amnesty). Not sure I’d even do the Howard trade with the two bad mid-range contracts tied to it. Howard for the 5th, and 10th, or 5th, 10th and Okafor would be great (although we could just amnesty Okafor, too). But I don’t expect Howard to go anywhere.

    • 504ever

      April 7, 2012 at 9:29 pm

      Jason Smith doing his best David West impression tonight, especially perimeter shooting, to prove my point.

  12. David

    April 7, 2012 at 9:37 pm

    The thing that hasn’t been inserted into this discussion is salary. If you trade two picks for Rondo, not only do you trade the two picks, but you trade the salary cap space that could be used on free agents. I love the idea of drafting one of the top 3 guys (TRob, MKG, Unibrow) with the first pick, and then the best available guy with the 10th pick (Barnes, Perry Jones, Terrance Jones) and then using our cap space to sign other players. I see them targeting Dragic, seeing as they tried to trade for him and all. Dragic-Gordon-Ariza-DRAFT PICK-Okafor/Kaman. If Dunleavy’s group gets the team, I think they re-sign Kaman. 2nd unit of Vasquez-Jack-Henry-Aminu-Smith-Ayon-Okafor/Kaman-DRAFT PICK. Kendall Marshall and Sullinger aren’t good fits for this team. We need A+ athletes, dynamic guys who can physically dominate to add to our skilled guys. The good thing about our team is we have 11 of 12 guys on the roster who are true, NBA players. All of our guys that play belong in the league. We are deep, young, talented. We need star power. I love where this team is going.

  13. Pingback: Chalk Talk with Brian Hagen, Director of Basketball Operations for the Hornets | New Orleans Hornets | Hornets247.com

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