Hornets acquire Robin Lopez and Hakim Warrick in 3-team Trade

Published: July 25, 2012

According to the Associated Press, a trade was agreed to on Wednesday that lands Robin Lopez and Hakim Warrick in New Orleans in exchange for recently acquired (soon to be retired) center Brad Miller, point guard Jerome Dyson, and two second round draft picks. Mason breaks down the trade and discusses whether or not it was a good deal for the Hornets.

Update: The deal has stalled. Click here for details.

*UPDATE (7/26/12 at 9:30 AM) – Because the Hornets are over the cap, the aggregation of Miller and Dyson may be what is keeping this trade from being finalized. The deal won’t work under the current CBA with the Hornets sending them out separately, since Dyson’s contract is too small. For details, check out our most recent post here.

Full trade breakdown:

Minnesota Timberwolves send SG Wesley Johnson and future 1st round pick to Suns
Phoenix Suns send C Robin Lopez and PF Hakim Warrick to Hornets
New Orleans Hornets send PG Jerome Dyson and two 2nd round picks to Timberwolves, C Brad Miller to Suns*

*The AP report states that Brad Miller is headed to the Timberwolves, but Phoenix Suns beat writer for the Arizona Republic, Paul Coro, has just revealed that Miller will instead be heading to the Suns. This makes sense, because CBA rules prohibit Minnesota from reacquiring him within a year of the date that he was initially traded away (which would not be until next July). Miller plans to retire, and it will only cost Phoenix about $800K to buy him out of the final year of his contract, so this change hardly seems like a big deal.

**Final draft pick terms are still being discussed among the teams, but the framework of the player movement in the deal appears to be set**

Robin Lopez’s Contract Value

The Hornets will reportedly sign Lopez to a 3-year, $15 million deal. This amount is totally reasonable for a 24 year old, 7 foot center with a career PER right around the league average (above average when omitting his rookie year). Also, there is the reality that his value to the Hornets is greater than it would be to many other teams, as the team is currently without a true center and his acquisition will take some pressure off of Anthony Davis. Lopez’s deal looks even better when compared to the market rate for 7-footers so far this offseason. Take a look:

  • Omer Asik, a 26 year-old all-defense, no-offense center, signed with Houston for 3 years and $25 million
  • Marcus Camby, a 38 year old center well past his prime, received a 3-year, $13 million deal in a sign-and-trade to the Knicks.
  • Chris Kaman just landed a one-year deal worth $8 million with the Mavericks

Robin Lopez getting paid just $700K more per season than a 7-foot center 14 years his elder seems pretty sweet. That being said, there is a difference ignored by some between NBA market value and actual value. Likely due to the “you can’t teach size” philosophy, 7-footers have always been overpaid in the NBA relative to actual production. Therefore, while a $7 million/year deal for Lopez could have been seen as “fair market value”, that doesn’t mean it would have been wise for the Hornets to bring him in at that price. If his market price had moved his salary to something around that total, the Hornets likely would have been better served by passing on Lopez and maintaining that cap space for the future as they continue their rebuilding process. Fortunately, that was not the case, and the Hornets inked him for a very cap-friendly price.

“The Other Guy” – Hakim Warrick

The other player who the Hornets are receiving is 6’9″ PF Hakim Warrick. He’s horrendous on defense but a decent scorer, and as a 5th big man behind Davis, Anderson, Lopez and Smith, a team could certainly do a whole lot worse. Warrick makes $4 million next season and has a $4 million team option for the 2013-14 season, which the Hornets (and most NBA teams) would likely decline; this could potentially make him a somewhat valuable trade chip before next season’s trade deadline.

Quick Recap

Overall, this looks like a great deal for the Hornets. My only two concerns as the trade was taking shape was that the Hornets would overpay Lopez and/or send out a future 1st round pick to Minnesota in the deal. As it turns out, Lopez’s contract is solid and the Hornets will only have to part with two second round picks. Unless Lopez turns out to be completely worthless, there is basically no downside to this deal. Once again, great work by Dell Demps to make this trade come to fruition.

Hornets Salary Cap Ramifications (courtesy of Jason Calmes):

Assuming the Hornets are sending out Brad Miller and Jerome Dyson, that’s $6 million in salary, which means that New Orleans were allowed to receive around $9 million worth of salary in return. Hakim Warrick’s $4 million deal for next season plus Robin Lopez’s ~$5 million/year deal makes up the rest of that $9 million amount. As a result of the trade, the Hornets are now over the cap, which means they can now use the “room mid-level exception“, minimum exceptions, and can make trades. However, in order to have cap space for even some of the lower “max” players next summer (younger guys like Harden, Ibaka, etc.), the Hornets will need to not excercise team options or clear some salary.

A couple other notes:

  • Dell Demps the Chessmaster. As Jake Madison noted last week, it always seems as if one move from Demps is setting up his next one. Almost everyone saw the Brad Miller acquisition as merely a way to add a second round pick and assumed the Hornets would just be buying out Miller, who plans to retire. Demps, on the other hand, had other plans. Without hanging onto Miller’s contract to send to the Suns, this trade couldn’t have happened, as the Hornets wouldn’t have been able to send out the amount of salary that it would take to receive Lopez or Warrick. Very impressive work by Demps.
  • Lance Thomas to the 3? Thomas had a strong summer league showing last week, and also earned some valuable experience playing with the NBA Select team against Team USA. I expect to see a much improved Thomas for the Hornets next season, and this trade may indicate that Coach Williams intends to move him to SF to be Aminu’s backup, especially if he decides that Darius Miller isn’t going to cut it. A lineup combination that would seem to make sense is Thomas and Ryan Anderson, with Thomas guarding opposing SFs but playing PF on offense (with Anderson doing the opposite).

Share your thoughts about the trade and what you think it means for the Hornets below!


  1. Pingback: Season in Review: Robin Lopez | New Orleans Hornets | Hornets247.com

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