Scouting the Eastern Conference Playoff: Potential Off-Season Targets

Published: April 29, 2012

No Hornets in this year’s playoffs, but could there be some future Hornets?

Because of Chris Paul, Hornets fans were usually busy this time of year watching their own teams’ games and worrying about the present. Now, with the Hornets finishing dead last in the Western Conference, all eyes are on the future. While most people are focused on the draft, you can bet that Dell Demps is simoultaneously scouting the playoffs, especially after Monty’s declaration that the Hornets will make the playoffs next year. A team doesn’t go from 21 wins to the playoffs because of a rookie- it will take vets to get them there. And what better vets to get you to the playoffs than vets with playoff experience? With that in mind, let’s take a look at the Eastern Conference playoff teams and some potential targets.

1. Chicago Bulls

Free agent targets: Omer Asik (Restricted)

Possible trade targets: Carlos Boozer

If Emeka Okafor is amnestied, it will be because his salary simply does not match his production- especially with the new luxury tax penalties and salary cap restrictions coming into play before the 2013 season. The Hornets could probably get a similar player at 5-8 million dollars a year, and Asik should be one of the guys they target. He is easily one of the top 10 defensive centers in the league, even though he is a reserve. His situation is similar to Marcin Gortat’s when he was in Orlando, in that he could probably start for several teams in the league, but he is stuck behind a top notch center in Noah.

Offensively, he is a mess (3 PPG, 46% FT), but his rebound rate is through the roof and over the last two years the Bulls have given up almost 10 points less per 100 posessions with him on the court. Oklahoma City gave Kendrick Perkins a little more than 8 million per year, and I would argue that Asik is a better defender, has more upside, and the difference in offense is negligable since they are both god awful. The Hornets could throw a reasonable contract at him and it is doubtful that the Bulls would match because they are already over the tax for next year.

As for Carlos Boozer, he is owed 46 million over the next 3 years and Chicago might want to take a different route depending on the development of Gibson. The Hornets wouldn’t be head over heels for Boozer, but might consider an Ariza/Okafor for Boozer swap. Okafor can be the Bulls third big as Taj Gibson moves into the starting role, and Ariza gives them a second lockdown perimeter defender. Not a horrible deal for either team.

2. Miami Heat

Free agents: Ronny Turiaf (Player option)

Trade Targets: Chris Bosh

Turiaf has a 1.2 million dollar player option that he likely won’t exercise if he has a good post season, and he fits the Dell Demps profile of hard working, blue-collar players. Okay, now that we have got the boring part of the way, let’s talk about Chris Bosh. If the Heat don’t make the Finals he is gone. Book it. And if he is traded, it is likely that the Heat will want a center in return. Would the Heat consider some kind of package that brings them Paul Milsap, Emeka Okafor, and Trevor Ariza for Chris Bosh and Shane Battier?

The Heat would upgrade at backup small forward, and the combination of Milsap and Okafor would give them more balance in the front court and create more depth. In this scenario, the Hornets would move the 10th pick and perhaps another asset to Utah for Milsap, whose departure would open up more playing time for Derrick Favors. Meanwhile, the Hornets put a defensive minded center like Asik next to Bosh and make him the #2 scoring option next to young Dwayne Wade (Eric Gordon)- a role that suits him better than “the other guy”, which he is in Miami. That is the kind of move that makes you an instant playoff team.

3. Indiana Pacers

Free agents: Jeff Foster, Louis Amundson, Roy Hibbert (Restricted)

Trade Targets: Danny Granger

Amundson is a guy Demps has targeted in the past and Foster could be a quality 5th big. But let’s talk about New Orleans native Danny Granger, and the best big man on the market this summer, Roy Hibbert. The Pacers go as Granger goes, and that might be the reason why they trade him this summer. If he shrinks in the playoffs, the Pacers will know he is not a guy that can lead them anywhere and they might want to see if Paul George will be the guy (who is untouchable, so don’t bother suggesting him as a target). Granger is overpaid, but he might be the best guy the Hornets could get if they are forced to move Eric Gordon, or he could be a guy who could be had for a draft pick- pairing him with Gordon.

As for Hibbert, he will likely get a max contract offer this summer, and if Benson gives the okay to amnesty Okafor the Hornets could get in the mix. He is one of the top five half court centers in this league, and the Hornets are determined to play at a slow pace. He is equally gifted in both the high post and the low post and could be a perfect compliment to a guy like Anthony Davis, should the Hornets be so lucky.

4. Atlanta Hawks

Free Agents: Ivan Johnson (Restricted), Willie Green

Trade Targets: Josh Smith

Ivan Johnson is a nasty, nasty man and Willie Green is still a guy Monty Williams wakes up in the middle of the night longing for, so they are two potential targets for the Hornets  this offseason. Neither can be more than a 10th or 11th man, but the Hornets used 21 guys this season, so 10th and 11th men are essentially starters for this team. The intriguing guy here is Josh Smith, another player who can determine his own fate in this year’s playoffs. If the Hawks lose to the Celtics once again and Smith does not match his wonderful regular season, he could be a guy that they look to move.

If the Hornets land Smith and Monty can get him to stop hoisting jump shots, he could be the best player on the team next season. He can do so many things on the court and guards multiple positions, making him a dream come true for a coach like Monty. The tricky part is that he is going into the last year of his deal next season and probably wants to get paid, but if the Hawks want to move him for Okafor and #10, the Hornets would likely jump on it.

5. Boston Celtics

Free Agents: Brandon Bass (P.O.)

Trade Targets: Rajon Rondo

Brandon Bass is only scheduled to make 4 million next year, so he will likely opt to become a free agent, and a return to the Big Easy is not out of the question. Bass could give the Hornets a more physical version of Jason Smith and could hold down the starting position until a rookie develops. Meanwhile, Rondo would be a guy Demps would go hard after should he become available again. Right now, he is in Danny Ainge’s good graces, but he could say or do the wrong thing in the playoffs and that might be the last straw for Rivers and Ainge.

A Rondo/Gordon back court would be amazing, and would likely force Monty to make this an uptempo team- much to the fans delight. The combo would also give the Hornets two of the best defensive guards in the league and an ability to attack from multiple directions. The price for Rondo would likely be considerably high, and it should be, but Monty’s prediction of a playoff birth would be all but guaranteed.

6. Orlando Magic

Free agents: Ryan Anderson (Restricted)

Trade targets: None

I am not even going to bring up the possibility of Dwight Howard, even though a successful night in the draft lottery would give the Hornets the ammunition to get him without having to give up Gordon. The fact is that he wants to be in a bigger market, so good luck to him and whichever team takes on the Dwightmare. Ryan Anderson, however, is somebody that the Hornets could target and steal from Orlando with the right deal.

Orlando is already at the luxury tax for next year and the new CBA has severe penalties for multiple time luxury tax offenders, so it might be hard for them to keep Anderson. A stretch four might be the way to go for the Hornets, as they look to create more space in the lane for Eric Gordon. Amnestying Okafor and giving his money to a combination of Anderson and Asik could be a coup for the Hornets, giving them more offensive versatility while covering for Anderson’s defensive limitations with the skill set of Asik.

7. New York Knicks

Free agents: Jared Jeffries, Landry Fields (Restricted)

Trade targets: Amare Stoudamire

Fields and Jeffries are two more guys who fit in the Hornets system, as half court players who can guard multiple positions. With the Knicks having to pay Lin, Fields could be gone this summer, while Jeffries could be had if a team is willing to offer more than the vet minimum. But again, the interesting name here is the big money vet, Amare Stoudamire. He just doesn’t fit with Melo and everyone knows it, but the Knicks might be forced to try to make it work because of the contract (3 years/64 million remaining).

A combination of Ariza and Okafor would work here, and the Hornets would essentially be adding on the last year of Amare’s deal to do that trade, as the first two years are essentially even. When healthy and utilized properly, Amre is one of the five best offensive power forwards in the game, and again, a guy like Asik could cover for him on defense. It would be a big risk, one Demps would be highly unlikely to take, but at this time of year you have to consider everything.

8. Philadelphia 76ers

Free agents: Spencer Hawes

Trade targets: Evan Turner, Andre Iguodala

Philadelphia will be out of the playoffs in 4 or 5 games and will be looking at their roster all offseason wondering how they could possibly break out of this mediocrity. Their GM has even taken to Twitter, soliciting advice from the fans on what he should do, so @hornets247 has a suggestion. Trade Evan Turner to the Hornets for Trevor Ariza and the 10th pick. Get some championship experience and another piece to bolster your front court for a guy you can’t seem to find a role for.

Meanwhile, the Hornets get a guy who can be a perfect compliment for Gordon, as the Hornets could go big and play those guys at the 1 and 2 or play fast with the right point guard by playing them at the 2 and 3. Both guys can guard multiple positions, handle the ball, make plays for others, and get to the rim. Turner is at that point in his career where he is ready to take off, but he won’t do it in Philly getting back up minutes. He will be more productive this year than anybody the Hornets could get at #10, and his ceiling is likely just as high. #GetItDoneDell



  1. CP3nBrees

    April 29, 2012 at 9:07 am

    Jeff Foster is retired.

    • Michael McNamara

      April 29, 2012 at 10:12 am

      Good catch- but a guy can dream can’t he?!?

  2. Veezy

    April 29, 2012 at 9:12 am

    Get a turner or rondo deal done.

  3. Trey

    April 29, 2012 at 9:23 am

    If we got rondo it would only be a matter of time before we won a championship!!!!
    Imagine if we have to give up idk a a futhure first and Jjack or our 2nd 1st round pick and Jjack.
    The team could be rondo/gordon/ariza/lottery pick/Okafor
    Thats a championship team!!
    Make it happens Demps!

    • da ThRONe

      April 29, 2012 at 9:51 am

      IMO this isn’t even close to a championship team. This isn’t even a 1st round home playoff series team.

      Lakers, Thunder, Spurs, Clippers, and Grizzles are all better teams. We would be fighting with the Jazz, Nuggets, a healthy Wolves team, and Rockets for position in the playoffs.

    • Lucas Ottoni

      April 29, 2012 at 10:02 pm

      Ariza will be traded.

  4. edbballin504

    April 29, 2012 at 9:31 am

    MM, which deal if any are you hoping Dell does?

    • Michael McNamara

      April 29, 2012 at 10:11 am

      Personally, I like the idea of Bosh as a Hornet. I think he is totally miscast on that Miami team and pairing him and Gordon would be deadly. Plus, under my premise Okafor is gone (with his massive contract) and the Hornets still have their pick. Take Harrison Barnes with that pick- a guy who is perfect as a third scorer- and go out and sign Asik, re-sign Kaman and I love that team. Perfect mix of vets, young guys, and young vets who can still get better.


      • berlin-hornets

        April 29, 2012 at 1:23 pm

        I really like the Bosh idea, too. It is not like he is one of my very favorite players, but he is better than what he is being thought of now. He is still young (26) and could complement Gordon greatly. Only problem is, the Heat will probably get to the NBA Finals now and I am not sure they wont win.
        But here is to hoping that the Heat lose and we get the goods out of it (albeit keeping our own better pick).

      • 504ever

        April 29, 2012 at 4:12 pm


        This doesn’t solve the team’s biggest problem, lack of a quality starting PG. It also leaves you with no quality starter at SF, and a logjam of good players at PF without minutes for all of them.

        I agree Bosh is a fit with the Hornets. But to make him a roster fit, you have to move Smith or Ayon. Having one of those two languishing on the bench would be wasting an asset that could be used to get help at another position via a trade. (I like of them both and hope we draft a PF like Davis or Robinson, rather than trade for a veteran PF.)

        I still believe there are quality verteran PGs out there, not just Rondo, who can help us and we can acquire. That should be the first option explored by Dell.

      • edbballin504

        April 29, 2012 at 4:52 pm

        I love that team you list with Bosh. I just wonder if its a realistic option or not.

      • Zombian

        April 30, 2012 at 3:12 am

        I’m surprised. I haven’t seen Bosh play a lot of D and from what I’ve read Barnes isn’t expected to be a defensive minded player. Kaman certainly isn’t a wiz on that end either.
        That entire team would prefer long jumpers to taking it to the rim too.
        Bosh is certainly wasted on that team but I don’t see him being a great fit for us. Personally I would hope for a post presence with some passing skills a la Marc Gasol to play inside out with those scorers on the perimeter.

      • SP

        April 30, 2012 at 4:27 am

        I definitely like the idea of Omer Asik, and I’m sure he’s a guy Monty would have his eyes on.

        I’d still be very willing to go the veteran route and not keep either of the picks in exchange for some talented vets that could score us home court in the playoffs.

        Rookies can almost be compared to new cars in a way, quite often as soon as you drive them out of the lot (put them on the court), they depreciate in value.

        Let’s say we come away from the lottery with the 5th pick and the 10th pick;

        We could move Okafor, along with the 5th pick for Rondo.

        Then we pair the 10th pick and possibly a future pick with Ariza, Henry & Vasquez for either a)LaMarcus Aldridge or b)Chris Bosh.

        If we could use these (potentially overvalued) picks as a way to bring in two already proven all-stars who would compliment Gordon, isn’t it a no-brainer?

        We’d have to give up a lot to make that happen. We would also need to do pretty well in free agency, but it’s a pretty nice big three to build a contender around..

      • edbballin504

        April 30, 2012 at 10:45 am

        I just can’t see MIA breaking up the big 3 this summer no matter what happens. If they fail again next year, then yes, but not this summer.

  5. da ThRONe

    April 29, 2012 at 9:44 am

    I proposed a trade for Turner earlier this year. Watching him play I’m not sure he’s a great fit to play with Gordon. He’s not great off the ball and EJ is best when he has the ball in his hands.

  6. Eli

    April 29, 2012 at 10:01 am

    I would love it if we got Rondo- even if it means giving up our better pick. As long as we could keep one of our picks and Trevor Ariza, it will be a good deal. Rondo-Gordon-Ariza would easily be the best 1-2-3 defensive trio in the league, and will give other teams nightmares. Not to mention that having an up-tempo offense with Rondo running it would benefit the whole team. Gordon, Aminu, Henry, Ariza, heck even Jason Smith would all benefit from an up-tempo style of play.

    The only question is, how do we ‘wow’ the Celtics with the right deal? If our pick is 2-4, maybe we can package Okafor and the pick for Rondo. Simple, but hard to turn down. The Celtics have always lacked a productive center ever since they traded Perkins, and Okafor could be their defensive anchor. The pick will likely land them either Thomas Robinson, MKG, Drummond, or Beal. Luckily for the Celtics, they have all-time greats at the 2, 3, and 4, and a solid 5 with okafor. Whoever they draft can come off the bench for a year or two and learn from the greats, and begin to start once they are ready or once the greats start to fall off.

    Or, maybe we can do that deal mentioned above for Chris Bosh, only do it for Rondo. The celtics would have a great big man trio of Garnett, Millsap, and Okafor.

    Get It Done Dell!!!

  7. Mr. West

    April 29, 2012 at 10:51 am

    You mentioned getting Milsap and trading him right away for someone ele… Personally I would be happy just getting Milsap haha. But I guess that could be coming in the Western conference potential target page

  8. champsworld504

    April 29, 2012 at 12:05 pm

    J.R. SMITH!! that is all

    • SP

      April 30, 2012 at 3:57 am

      I love that this got 15 thumbs down, and I hope it was a joke.

      • NoJoke

        May 1, 2012 at 9:03 pm

        22 now

  9. Jack

    April 29, 2012 at 1:10 pm

    Dream lineup
    Augustin/ Vasquez
    Gordon/ Henry/ Belineli
    Amino/ PJIII
    Robinson/ Laundry/ Ayon
    Hibbert/ Smith

    • VeezyV

      April 29, 2012 at 2:51 pm

      Sounds good except for PJIII. Plus, I don’t know if we would have to money to max out hibbert and gordon.

    • Mr. West

      April 29, 2012 at 6:00 pm

      Is Ayon so bad that the teams Laundry gets played before him?

  10. Lucas Ottoni

    April 29, 2012 at 1:44 pm

    The combination Rondo / Gordon would be PERFECT for our team! Two talented guys who can defend and create shots! The question is how to bring Rondo to New Orleans? Ariza, Jack, Okafor, picks?

    • Mr. West

      April 29, 2012 at 6:01 pm

      Probably all of the above, maybe minus Okafor.

  11. carla

    April 29, 2012 at 2:55 pm

    I really like the bosh option. It may be possible especially if the heat don’t win the championship. I have a feeling that pat riley is going to blow that team up

  12. clef504

    April 29, 2012 at 3:53 pm

    I say we give up the latter pic (Austin rivers), jjack and okafor for rondo. Draft MKG cuz he is better than Barnes. Resign kaman. Do a sign and trade with Landry packaged with ariza for A Brandon bass and some roll players and run this lineup

    Gordon/ belli/ Henry
    MKG/ aminu
    Bass/ Ayon
    Kaman/ j Smitty

    That gives us speed, scoring, while not losing hustle and length on defense.

  13. Chuck

    April 29, 2012 at 5:02 pm

    Has this been updated since Rose went down? Philly could easily make the second round now.

    I think Evan Turner would be perfect with Gordon. He’s more of a point forward and always has been, so he can Gordon together would be enough creators, then add a guy like Austin Rivers or Damian Lillard in the draft and there’s no need for a “true” point guard.

    But oh god please, please, PLEASE Dell stay away from Stoudemire and his knees/eyes/mental state/anything else he has that’s injured and uninsured

  14. Jordan

    April 29, 2012 at 5:25 pm

    I think you overrated Asik pretty tremendously. I know we’re talking Eastern Playoffs teams, but what do you think about Kyle Lowry as target for a trade. He plays amazing defense and is just entering his prime. Also, apparently he had a rift with McHale and the front office, and they are looking to move him and/or Martin.

  15. Mike P

    April 29, 2012 at 5:28 pm

    Josh Smith is one of my favorite options here. Yes, he does shoot too many jumpers, but I would be happy just with his defense and rebounding. He gives you a lot of versatility with his length, strength, quickness, and overall athleticism.

    I do think that we would probably have to give up our better pick if they took Okafor off of our hands, but that’s something that I would be willing to do in a heartbeat (unless it was ADavis pick). Smith is entering the prime of his career and I don’t see anyone in the draft besides Davis that will even come close to Smith’s level of production within the next few years. So we’d be basically hitting on our first pick (since it would be swapped for Smith) and also getting rid of Okafor’s contract. I’m sure he will want a max deal or something very close to it, but I’d be willing to put up some money for him

  16. 504ever

    April 29, 2012 at 10:17 pm

    Rondo just got tossed for bumping a ref with 41 seconds left and the game result still in doubt. Will this lower the price for him and speed his exit from Boston?

    • Jordan

      April 29, 2012 at 11:39 pm

      He’s a punk no doubt, but they already knew this.

    • edbballin504

      April 30, 2012 at 8:55 am

      If they get bounced in the first round, I say yes. That would be bad for me as a fan though bcuz MIA gets the real reward by having a cake walk to the NBA Finals.

      I really wish they’d change this East vs West playoff setup and let the teams be spread evenly no matter what conference. Its no fair that MIA has to go through IND, PHI, an old BOS, no Dwight ORL, no Rose CHI, etc while SAS has to go through the twin towers plus Kobe of LAL, CP3 in LAC, MEM, OKC, defending champs DAL, etc.

      • Andrew Smith

        May 1, 2012 at 1:15 pm

        No such thing as fair & unfair in basketball

      • NoJoke

        May 1, 2012 at 9:07 pm

        You watched Open Court about Kenny Smith’s playoff opinion, didn’t you?

      • NoJoke

        May 1, 2012 at 9:08 pm


  17. kempleton

    April 30, 2012 at 12:35 pm

    Love the brainstorm going on here!!!

    We have another full month to continue doing so without knowing where our picks will be. It is going to get even more exciting on May 30th!

    Countdown #1 for the Draft lottery: T – 30 days and counting!

    Countdown #2 for 2012 NBA Draft: T – 59 days and counting!

    • kempleton

      April 30, 2012 at 4:01 pm

      By the way, just played ESPN’s lottery for fun and got the first pick with Minnesota’s pick at the 4th click! Only 1.1% chance of winning and I got it. First and Sixth! Davis and Barnes! Wohooo! 🙂

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  20. BamBam

    May 2, 2012 at 11:33 am

    Rondo – Gordon – Ariza(MKG) – Ayon – Roy Hibbert; enough said. Now just make it happen!

  21. BamBam

    May 2, 2012 at 11:42 am

    I know this is far fetched, but what if:

    Rondo – Gordon – Ariza/MKG – Smith/Ayon – and Roy Hibbert, were the Hornets starting five next season? Could this even be possible?

  22. 504Hornet

    May 16, 2012 at 10:58 am

    heres my ideal line-up


    get rid of oakefor is imminent. use him as a lure for boston with out 2nd 1st round pick for rondo. bosh is really on his way out bc he is not really getting enough playing time. so maybe use kaman and maybe vasquez and using a deal for bosh. battier will come in free angency. but i really just love for rondo to come

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