Off-Season Targets: Forwards

Published: July 4, 2012

We take a look at the free agent forwards that Dell Demps should be targeting during this summer

As of right now, the Hornets have Al-Farouq Aminu and Darius Miller at small forward, while Anthony Davis and Gustavo Ayon figure to get the bulk of the minutes at power forward. Add it all up and you have a grand total of three years of NBA experience. The Hornets need some vets to come in and provide some depth and maturity to this unit, and could possibly look to add a long term piece at the power forward position if the Hornets brass projects Davis as the center of the future. It would be nice to bring in a small forward to push Aminu, but Nic Batum is the only legitimate one on the market and he is going to get 12 million per year. No thank you. Instead, I offer these alternatives:

High End

1. Ersan Illysova, Milwaukee Bucks

As much as I love JaVale McGee for this team, it is Illysova who would top my list if I were Dell Demps. First of all, unlike most of the other premier free agents in this crop, Illysova is unrestricted. No need to wait and see if the other team will match, just sign him the second the moratorium is lifted and proceed to the next order of business. Illysova is reported being offered the mid-level by several teams, but has a “big offer” to play overseas. It would probably cost the Hornets something like 4 years and $35-40 million to secure his services. (Bucks currently have 5 years/$40 million offer on the table)

Illysova was fantastic last year, especially in the second half, and he just turned 25 this off-season. His spot of numbers were fantastic, as he averaged almost 1.2 points per shot and shot over 48% (49% on spot-up three’s). He was similarly good as the roll man on the pick and roll- usually choosing to pop and hit the mid-range jumper. He also defends the post fairly well and is quick enough to defend the pick and roll. An excellent free-throw shooter, Illysova hit nearly 90% two years ago (fell to 78% last year).

The lone problem with Illysova is that he has no chance at playing the small forward position on the defensive end, so if the Hornets bring him in he will have to play the four, a position that is currently overcrowded. If Davis can fill out, he can be a full-time center in two years, but until then, he will mostly play the same position as Illysova. The Hornets can sign Illysova and then move Gustavo for an upgrade at point guard or small forward and finish games with an Ersan/AD combo or they can just put Davis at center right away and force other teams to adjust to them on the offensive end, while being undersized for the time being on the defensive end.

Though I will admit it is not a perfect fit right now, the Hornets can make it work once SkyNet bulks up. Sign me up.

2. Ryan Anderson, Orlando Magic

The Magic are a mess right now and they appear to have already drafted Anderson’s replacement in Andrew Nicholson, so why not swoop in and grab the man who beat out Illysova for this year’s Most Improved Player award? Anderson is not as good as Illysova spotting up, but he is actually a superior player in the pick and pop game and of cuts. Like Illysova he is fantastic in transition, which would be ideal for a Hornets fast break that could see Davis sprinting to the rim while Anderson sets up behind the three-point line.

On the defensive end, Anderson might actually be a better fit because his synergy numbers indicate that he was much better covering players on the perimeter. Honestly, he and Illysova are alike in many ways, with each having their minor advantages. Illysova is a better rebounder, while Anderson is an elite FT shooter and slightly less turnover prone. The tiebreaker goes to the fact that Illysova is unrestricted, but the Hornets should be happy if they can land either one.

3. Jason Thompson, Sacramento Kings

If the goal is to get a long, athletic player who can get out and run with Anthony Davis, Thompson should be atop the Hornets free agent wish list. His offensive stats were mediocre across the board, with the exception of his transition game. Thompson scored on 82% of his transition opportunities and average 1.444 ppp in this opportunities, which was 11th in the NBA. He also had the strength to finish and get an ‘And-One’ in about 15% of his transition opportunities.

Defensively, Thompson is good in the pick and roll, using his length to show and then get back to his man. He isn’t great defending the post, but on the plus side he does not foul at a high frequency when put in that position. He can play the four or the five and quite honestly, gives you some of the same things that JaVale McGee does at a fraction of the price. After having just drafted Thomas Robinson, I can see the Kings letting THompson go if someone throws 4-5 million per year at him.

Bargain Basement

Earl Clark, Orlando Magic

Clark is Al-Farouq Aminu if Aminu didn’t get obsessed with drifting out to the perimeter.  An above average defender with length and the ability to score at the rim, Clark has the potential to develop into a solid rotation player if he is given a specific role. A minimum contract or something close to that gets you a guy to compete with Miller and Aminu for minutes.

Jeremy Evans, Utah Jazz

Last year’s slam dun champion is obviously ultra-athletic, but he also possesses a bit of a post-up game and is a very good close-out defender. With a team that rotates as much as the Hornets do on the defensive end, Evans can be a nice fit.

Anthony Tolliver, Minnesota Timberwolves

Tolliver was one of the worst statistical players in the NBA last year, but that had more to do with Adelman’s new system and his reluctancy to make Tolliver a consistent rotational player. The year before, Tolliver was one of the best shooting big men in the league, hitting over 40% of his three’s. He also did well in post-up situations when utilized. Defensively he leaves a lot to be desired, but as a shooter off the bench, Tolliver can be a good value at a minimum salary.

Amnesty Candidates

Tyrus Thomas, Charlotte Bobcats

Eventually, this is going to happen. The Bobcats need to open up some playing time for Biyombo and MKG, and Thomas’s huge salary has to go. He was absolutely horrible last year, but was solid the two years prior, putting up over 10 points and 6 rebounds in just 21 minutes per game. A change of scenary and a specialized role is necessary to save his career, and if the Hornets can put in a small bid, locking him in for around 2 million per year, it is worth the risk.

Other Possible Targets

Andrei Kirilinko- Love the idea of AK47 of this team. This is the guy Aminu should model his game after. What better way than to watch him in practice every day?

Jared Jeffries- Perfect guy for Monty. Can defend four different positions and never asks for the ball.

Ivan Johnson- This team needs an enforcer for when teams try to send a message to SkyNet. No better guy in the league for that role than Johnson.

Ronny Turiaf- Smaller, but craftier Ivan Johnson. Plays the same role.

Previous: Guards   Centers


  1. TheMackBee

    July 4, 2012 at 5:18 pm

    Michael Beasley??? (Lmao I’m ignorant)
    +4 years experience
    +Can score
    +Hybrid Forward (Better 4)

    High Motor?

    -No Defense
    -Off court Issues
    -Terrible PER
    -Too many jumpers

  2. Chuck

    July 4, 2012 at 6:03 pm

    Oh man Kirilenko would be perfect, but honestly is there anyway he doesn’t end up on the Nets? He and Prokhorov are probably sharing a bottle of vodka right now.

  3. Josh

    July 4, 2012 at 6:18 pm

    The two guys I would pursue the hardest are Jason Thompson and Ivan Johnson. They can play center and would be able to take the pounding that Monty doesn’t want SkyNet to take. Thompson is 6’11 and had a pretty good PER. Ivan Johnson is 6’8, but remember Ben Wallace (6’9) and is a good short-term option.

  4. Everett

    July 4, 2012 at 7:38 pm

    I’ve liked Jason Thompson for a while. Had a strong rookie season but has regressed in the Kings’ amateurish environment. Also, he can play at center because of his height and weight.

  5. Dave

    July 4, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    How is Turiaf a shorter Ivan Johnson? Ronny is 6’10 and Ivan is 6’6-6’8

    Johnson is a better rebounder but Turiaf is a better defender.

    • Michael McNamara

      July 4, 2012 at 8:38 pm

      Good catch. Smaller was referring to weight, not height. Despite being about 2 inches shorter, Johnson is 10 pounds heavier.

  6. Shantadiva

    July 4, 2012 at 7:54 pm

    What big men might be available in a sign and trade for Gordon?

    • Josh

      July 4, 2012 at 8:00 pm

      Gortat, Lopez, or Marcus Morris (if you consider him a big man)

      • macs21

        July 4, 2012 at 8:25 pm

        Alternatively Terrence Jones or Royce White if we get the rockets involved.

        And only if you consider either of them to be big men. Both could play PF but it’d be a stretch for either to play C

  7. NOS-3RD GEN

    July 4, 2012 at 8:35 pm

    Sign and Trade for EG: we get their current 1st RND Pick (Marshall), next year 1 RND pick, Gortat, and cash. After that sign all young player but mix it up w/young veterans players. By the time next year comes around Hornets will have enough for D.Howard/CP3 or who ever they want as a combination. The point is nobody wants to to be apart of us right now so go the young and development route!

    • k

      July 5, 2012 at 9:22 am

      Sorry to burst you bubble, but the suns are already unsure of giving an max offer to an injury prone guy like E.Gordon.There is no way they would give up that much for him.

  8. Ben

    July 4, 2012 at 9:03 pm

    If anyone would like to join in the trolling on under the article suns trade Nash for picks, feel free. Payback for all their fans trolling us

  9. nola hustle

    July 4, 2012 at 9:21 pm

    danny green, Michael pietrus

    • Mr. West

      July 4, 2012 at 10:57 pm

      Danny Green please

  10. jjmartin

    July 4, 2012 at 11:59 pm

    Why wasn’t Jordan Hill mentioned? I don’t understand.

  11. Ian H

    July 5, 2012 at 12:45 am

    I really like Ersan/AD combo but I will settle for Jason Thompson as a 2 year fix until AD grows into his body and the Center position. The Hornets still need a knockdown shooter. I’m all for a Novak or another 3pt specialist of some sort. The 5 yr/40 million offer from Bucks for Illy is considered a steal, I don’t think it’s unreasonable for the Hornets to offer 4yr/36 million of 5yr/48 million to sign him. Especially with the money that has been handed out.

    Jack, Gordon, Aminu, Illy, Davis with Rivers, J. Smith, Vasquez, and Ayon as the main rotation sounds like a 8th seed in the West next year alone with the arrow pointing up from there.

  12. Tyler

    July 5, 2012 at 1:08 am

    Re-sign Carl Landry.

  13. nikkoewan

    July 5, 2012 at 1:31 am

    I’m slowly coming around on Ersanity and Anderson as possible pairings with AD – leaning more on Anderson just because he’s bulkier and yet still a good perimeter defender for a big.

  14. CarnbY

    July 5, 2012 at 4:07 am

    Please stop calling him Skynet, it’s a terrible nickname, haha

    • nola hustle

      July 5, 2012 at 9:53 am

      Go with big ez

  15. VeezyV

    July 5, 2012 at 5:23 am

    What are we doing in free agency. I have only heard about two people i.e batum and nick young. This is getting ridiculous. I know that we aren’t going to win next year; but at least throw out fillers that you are trying to upgrade this team (yes this is a mini rant from phoenix signing Dragic)

    • Michael McNamara

      July 5, 2012 at 8:25 am

      This is the time in free agency when guys get overpaid. The “fillers” dont sign until mid to late July and come in at a bargain price. If Dell just wants to do the smart thing and keep as much flexibility moving forward, he will wait it out and get guys like Jared Jeffries for a year and 2 mil. Roger Mason, Willie Green, Turiaf, etc.

      No need to overpay. Fill out the roster with good character, blue chip guys and keep all future options open while developing young guys.

      • VeezyV

        July 5, 2012 at 8:46 am

        I understand that logically. But, at least shouldn’t we show Gordon and our fan base that we are trying to at least do something. Fillers aren’t exciting and watching a lottery team is no fun. Also I wanted to ask you what is the floor that that the hornets have to meet – I know that I really should be asking this question in the CBA post.

      • Jason Calmes

        July 5, 2012 at 9:51 am

        I’m not sure showing something entails.veing flashy over being responsible.

      • Michael McNamara

        July 5, 2012 at 9:00 am

        Floor is not set yet because salary cap is not set yet. That is why the NBA has this moratorium period- so they can look at the books, set the cap, the lux tax, the floor, etc.

        If I had to guess, I think it will be right between 52 and 53 million. 99% likely that is right in between those two numbers.

        Getting fan bases excited is just not a criteria for a GM willing to build a long term winner IMO. Look at the Thunder free agent signings after they drafted Durant:

        They did not sign one free agent at a salary over the minimum. They did make an offer to CJ Miles, which Utah matched, but other than that they built through the draft and made very shrewd trades that they were able to make because of their cap flexibility. They took on Matt Harpring’s final year to get Eric Maynor, they got two first rounders to take on Kurt Thomas’s contract, they traded two late firsts for a lotto pick because they took on Mo Pete’s deal.

        Free agency is only one way to acquire pieces, and history shows that unless you are getting a superstar, you are likely to regret contracts you give players in free agency.

        Patience my friend, patience.

      • jmbell

        July 5, 2012 at 9:52 pm

        Agreed. Especially with AD and Rivers, I don’t think the Hornets need to feel any outside pressure and rush things.

  16. k

    July 5, 2012 at 9:16 am

    The Suns convinced Dragic to agree to terms on a four-year, $30 million contract ($34 million with annual $1 million All-Star bonuses) with a fourth-year player option and Beasley to pledge to a three-year, $18 million contract when signings begin Wednesday.

    • nola hustle

      July 5, 2012 at 10:01 am

      Unfortunately, while it is highly debatable that he’s worth that (dmorey I guess doesn’t think so), there was no way we were gonna commit all our cap $$ to continue stocking the backcourt when we have those gaping holes at the 3 and 5

    • Chuck

      July 5, 2012 at 11:16 am

      Could he be a sign-and-trade piece for them? I’m not entirely sold on Dragic but that’s a really good contract, I thought he would get $40-45 M

  17. David

    July 5, 2012 at 10:35 am

    Ilyasova is a physical guy who can play the 5 on defense. He can bang in the post and is a good rebounder. Offensively, he could play as the 3, Aminu the 4 and Davis the 5. Defensively Aminu the 3, Davis the 4, and Ilyasova the 5. Not a perfect fit, but the fact that he offers some flexibility is a big plus.

  18. David

    July 5, 2012 at 12:10 pm

    + Pick-and-pop big man who can play physical and rebound. Will force shots.

    + Limited leaping ability. Doesn’t block shots and a below-average finisher.

    + Can defend post but struggles to guard perimeter. Good foul shooter.

    Ilyasova regressed a bit from his promising 2009-10 campaign, missing 22 games with injury and looking a step slower when he played. He didn’t shoot any worse or better, but he was a lot less active offensively, losing 2.5 points off his 40-minute average. This was the exact opposite of what Milwaukee needed, as it was desperate for anyone who could generate a halfway decent look. The one positive from his season was that he shot a scintillating 89.4 percent from the line.

    Defensively, Ilyasova was pretty average. His listed weight (235 pounds) may make him seem like a liability, but he relishes physical play and has no problem banging with bigger players. Plus, he takes tons of charges. Ilyasova’s problem is his lack of athleticism and average mobility, which makes it hard for him to defend the rim and help guards in pick-and-rolls.

  19. tmb1978

    July 5, 2012 at 12:27 pm

    Good points, Mike. I think we are about 2-3 years away from contention if Gordon leaves, and we can contend in 1-2 years if he stays. If he leaves, we should definitely do a sign trade for Dudley, Lopez, and a 1st round pick in 2013. They have 2 #1 picks now after the Steve Nash trade and they may part with the one from LA, because it will probably be in the 20s. Also, AK47 would be perfect for a 2 or 3 year deal. Ryan Anderson would be good to help create depth. It looks like everyone will be set in a couple of weeks.

    • jmbell

      July 5, 2012 at 9:58 pm

      Probably more like 2-3 years if he does stay and 5-7 if he doesn’t and we don’t get much back.

      But hey I hope I’m wrong.

  20. kempleton

    July 6, 2012 at 11:31 am

    Ersan was playing the center for the Bucks in the playoffs 2 years ago! But, we don’t need him to! We can slide Davis or Smith to 5 and let Ersan play PF if we have to. Ersan can also play SF! He is a very good rebounder. He is also a good 3pt shooter for his size. I don’t think Anderson is quick enough to slide to the SF spot!
    That’s why I believe Ersan could be the better choice over Anderson.

  21. BeesFan

    July 7, 2012 at 2:13 pm

    Like the Tyrus Thomas idea i think him coming back home would revive his career and he would be a nice addition coming of the bench….Rivers/Thomas connection on pick and roll for the second unit could do some damage to other second units in the NBA…my opinion

  22. CarnbY

    July 8, 2012 at 6:57 am

    Looks like Ilyasova will be returning to the Bucks, 5yrs $45m:

  23. Pingback: Ryan Anderson to Hornets in Sign-And-Trade | New Orleans Hornets |

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