The Missing Piece: Take ’em Off the Board

Published: November 3, 2012

Several extensions before the October 31st buzzer took a few possible ‘Missing Pieces’ off the board, but there are several guys poised to take their place.

The final few days of last month saw a flurry of action in the NBA, as teams were forced to decide on whether or not they would pick up options on some rookie contracts and whether they wanted to extend others. The New Orleans Hornets had some decisions to make, as they picked up the 2013-14 option on Greivis Vasquez but declined the options of Al-Farouq Aminu and Xavier Henry. Those decisions put the Hornets in position to offer a max contract next summer, though there are fewer players who are poised to hit the market than it appeared there would be just one week ago.

Ty Lawson, Jrue Holliday, and Stephen Curry were all on our watch list last week, but no more as they all signed four year extensions ranging from $41-$48 million. In all three cases, you could argue that the players took less than they could have got on the open market if they had played well this year, but the long-term security was too hard to pass up. Their contracts are also interesting with regard to the guys who did not get extensions and are poised to hit the market, as their deals have now set a range for their values. Brandon Jennings, Darren Collison, Jeff Teague, and Tyreke Evans will all be restricted free agents this season, and you better believe that they will be looking at those contracts when they go to the negotiating table.

You can also argue that Danny Granger might be taken off the board, or at least moved to the very back after news came out that he would be shut down indefinitely with a knee injury. Sound familiar? Yeah, I find it highly unlikely that the Hornets will want two injury prone wing players making nearly thirty million per year. Actually, the interesting question would be whether both teams would consider a swap straight up. Benefit for Pacers: They can move Paul George to small forward, and if Gordon can ever get healthy they are a legit contender. Benefit for Hornets: Granger comes off the books after next season. Get out from a bad deal two years sooner, and if Granger gives you anything, that is a bonus.

Moving Up the Board

If someone falls off, another must step in his place, and with the extension of Ty Lawson now official, it looks like the Denver Nuggets will have to make a choice between Andre Iguodala and Wilson Chandler. And it makes it a virtual lock that they lose Corey Brewer, who has looked fantastic since the mid-point of last year. Re-signing Iggy will put them into the luxury tax short term, and long-term, it would make it very hard to keep Kenneth Faried.

And let’s be honest, with the Eric Gordon bombshell dropped on us this year, every single highly touted 2013 draft prospect just moved up our board. The Hornets look like a team that will fight hard every night and will win some games that they shouldn’t, but that’s who they were last year and they ended up with the #1 pick. No way this team is the worst in the league, but they are pretty much a lock to be in the top ten if Gordon misses significant time.

Put ‘Em on the Board

There is a young and athletic small forward who will be an unrestricted free agent this summer that wasn’t even on this list last week. That player’s name is Al-Farouq Aminu, and after his performances against San Antonio and Utah, he has to be in the conversation when we talk about our starting small forward of the future. If he can continue to play the way he did in the first two games, he has just a good a chance as anybody to get a long-term offer from Dell.

And with the news that we got about Eric Gordon this week, you gotta add shooting guards to the board now. You can’t assume that Gordon will ever be completely right, so if the best player on the board when you draft is a shooting guard or you identify a good one in free agency, you might have to pull the trigger. So, UCLA freshman Shabazz Muhammad is now on the board, along with Kevin Martin and Monta Ellis.

In Our House

The Utah Jazz visited last night and brought with them two possible missing pieces in Al Jefferson and Paul Milsap. Jefferson was not overly impressive, as I think anyone who watched that game would agree that Lopez outplayed him. Jefferson scored 10 points on 13 shots and generally looked too slow to make an impact. Paul Milsap, on the other hand, took Hornets fans breath away with a three-pointer to tie the game with seven seconds left. He only got 25 minutes because his eventual successor, Derrick Favors, was playing so well, but he did a little bit of everything by scoring 11 points on 9 shots, grabbing 6 boards (3 offensive), dishing 3 assists, and getting a block and a steal on the defensive end.

Jefferson just doesn’t look like he would fit with the Hornets, who want to play more uptempo, but you could see Paul Milsap being a rich man’s version of Jason Smith if the Hornets bring him in.

First Week Standout Performances

Andre Iguodala has stood out in a bad way so far, going 8 of 23 through two games. He is filling out the box score, per usual, but if he can’t be an offensive threat, you might as well stick with Aminu.

Brandon Jennings went head to head with Rajon Rondo last night and came out with 21 points, 13 assists, 6 steals, and a victory. According to some Milwaukee writers, Jennings was willing to stay if he was offered 4 years/39 million but that was too rich for Milwaukee’s blood.

Chris Paul has had plenty of chances to say that he is staying with the Clippers beyond the season, but instead, he keeps saying that he doesn’t know where he will be playing. The Clippers are playing well now, but if and when injuries hit and Del Negro starts making Del Negro-like mistakes, Chris could become frustrated and seek a new home. He still loves New Orleans, and he said this week that he tried to get Dwight Howard to come and play here, so why not come back home to play with the new and improved version of Dwight Howard?

Rudy Gay dropped 25 points (on 21 shots) for Memphis in their opening night loss against the Clippers. He followed that up with 18 points on 18 shots in a win against the Warriors. The fact remains that he and Randolph just don’t play off each other very well and if the Grizzlies are struggling three months from now, one of them will have to go.

What to Watch This Week:

The NCAA season kicks off next Friday night, and you can see several top prospects in action. Kentucky kicks off their season on ESPN at 7:30 CST against Maryland. Nerlens Noel is fantastic, but he would be a little redundant on this team. Watch #22 Alex Poythress. You can’t miss him, he is the one built like a defensive end. UCLA plays at 10:00 CST that night and Shabazz Muhammed should score from day one. And on ESPN3 at 6:00 CST you can check out my personal favorite, Mr. James McAdoo and North Carolina as they take on perennial powerhouse Gardner-Webb.

If Aminu is the Answer

Watching Aminu this week, it is hard not to think that we might have our answer at small forward on our roster right now. If he continues to play like this, Dell will follow the Spurs model and give his young forward a multi-year deal that will start around four or five million. Couple that with the Hornets picking up Lopez’s option and the cap hold for their first round pick and the Hornets will be looking at about $10 million in cap room. Based on what the market is set at, the Hornets could grab a quality point guard like Brandon Jennings- perhaps a sign and trade similar to the Anderson/Ayon trade, where they send Vasquez or Rivers to Milwaukee for him.

The Missing piece is a weekly article that can be found only on For past issues, click here.




  1. Ron

    November 3, 2012 at 9:43 am

    This all presumes that AFA plays this way the rest of the season. (It’s always nice to be proven wrong when you’re pessimistic… :))

    Anyway, that will start around four or five million: is that per year?

  2. Snow

    November 3, 2012 at 10:27 am

    Obviously Robin Lopez wanted to come… Steve Nash didn’t even want to stay in Phoenix lol Yes that just happened BOOM

  3. Snow

    November 3, 2012 at 10:29 am

    I really hope Aminu keeps playing like this because having 10+ points a night and filling all these other stats for about 4 to 5 mil a year would save us a lot of money. If we could get Brandon Jennings I’d be so happy! I’d be even happier if CP3 and Howard come here like they planned originally lol

  4. DTBHornet

    November 3, 2012 at 10:53 am

    Right because why come to Nola when you can go to phx and play with all those amazing players

  5. Will

    November 3, 2012 at 11:07 am

    I was feeling good about Aminu based on how he finished last year and he’s exceeded my expectations. Of course, we’ll have to wait and see how consistent he is but he’s playing within his limits by not trying to create for himself too much, thus cutting down on turnovers and bad shots.

  6. Nola moondog

    November 3, 2012 at 11:08 am

    I don’t watch Jennings much, how dose he get his O? Is he a pick and roll guy, a play runner, etc?

  7. Jason Calmes

    November 3, 2012 at 11:27 am

    Little Suns guy,

    If you want to discuss the Suns, Eric Gordon, or the Hornets, you are encouraged to do so. However, you have not been advancing the discussion. Consider your ways for a little while, then come back and we can talk Eric gordon and how bad this franchise may be using facts and reason like adults.

  8. Joe P.

    November 3, 2012 at 1:30 pm

    One neat tidbit unmentioned is that Granger is from Slidell, and Gordon is from Indianapolis. I know it doesn’t really matter except maybe the players could make the trade go down easier.

    I’d rather get lotto picks and youth (or CP) back for Gordon’s, contract, attitude, and knee.

    Is there an H247 consensus that GV isn’t the answer at QB? I’m willing to give him more time. He may look bad with advanced stats, but my eyes see a long NBA starter that knows his role but hasn’t had a consistent roster to work with yet. I’m not saying he’s Magic or CP, but DFish, 100 year old JKidd, and Mario Chalmers have rings.

  9. Karlos

    November 3, 2012 at 3:14 pm

    Shabazzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz!!!!! But I also like Millsap.

  10. Jacob Williams

    November 3, 2012 at 3:38 pm

    Aminu has taken up most of my attention so far. I knew Davis would be good, and unfortunately the Gordon situation isn’t a huge surprise. Aminu was such a huge wildcard before the season, so if he can continue to play this well it opens up the Hornets’ options. I agree with MM–get another pretty good guy at a good price to pair with Aminu.

  11. mojart

    November 4, 2012 at 12:24 am

    love to have shabazzzzzz or tony mitchell…….monty will not give up rivers for jennings….i want to know if we try to get rudy gay what new dimension will he bring in NOLA?can he and EG co exist?i think CP3 or howard (crossing my fingers) are the guys i want here

  12. I'm just sayin

    November 4, 2012 at 9:13 am

    We would look even better with Darren Collison and Marcus Thornton in our backcourt. But, we may have won too many games to get AD. I have to admit when I look at Gordon. Sitting on the bench in street clothes, I wonder how much better off we would have been with Thornton. A homeboy that actually wanted to play here. I like Rivers, but he’s no Marcus.

    • Ron

      November 4, 2012 at 5:36 pm

      MT5 who is an inefficient scorer, plays no D and always wants the ball
      AR who willingly plays D and distributes.

      I’ll stick with AR, thank you very much…

  13. wilsmit

    November 4, 2012 at 10:33 am

    I’m not surprised of AFA’s play but the consistancy over the last 3 games has been great. He’s always had the talent BUTT the man who has stirred my gumbo is that bird named LOPEZ!!!! After obtaining him & watching him play in pre-season games I was like WTF? Thought he was useless shows what a pitiful GM I’d have made hahahaha. gotta give him huge props he’s put me in my place & I like it….keep it up Robin & THANKS

  14. Macca

    November 4, 2012 at 9:18 pm

    Hey Mac (great nick name by the way)

    Just curious about my McAdoo is your favourite SF in the draft? I watched a fair bit of UNC last year and he does look the goods, but he’s not a genuine 3 point threat nor is he a particularly explosive athlete. Personally, those are the two thing’s I’d look for in a Hornets uniform. Largely so they can stretch the floor for EG, Davis and Rivers and also as a potential wing stopper.

    I mentioned this earlier but Mitchell fits the bill for me almost to a T. He’s not a GREAT shooter from deep but he’s solid enough that I’d take his lumps for a couple years.

    I’m not knocking McAdoo, at all, happen to think he’ll put up 18/9 or something along those lines this year but I think Mitchell will fit us better. Hence my curiosity when you say he’s your personal favourite.

  15. KC

    November 5, 2012 at 9:16 am

    The Hornets aren’t far away guys, but with Gordon’s latest shenanigans we are in a difficult situation. Lewis’ contract will come off the books next year and I suspect by the end of the year we will know if Rivers is the answer or not at the 2 (the kid hasnt impressed yet this year but he does have an explosive first step and does play the passing lanes well). Rivers and Davis need to add some bulk and they will.

    But if Im in the Hornets front office Im pursuing these two guys BIG TIME!
    – Brandon Jennings (only 23)
    – Rudy Gay (26 – Bday in Aug – will be in his prime for start of 2013 season)

    The problem? Where does Gordon fit into all this, or does he?

  16. BRballboy

    November 12, 2012 at 11:57 am

    EG’s pic should be inc. in series title. Loaded frontcourt, PG future good w/Rivers maturity ahead ( 20 lbs. muscle ) & GV backup.
    SG is The Missing Piece, no doubt about it. 17 of top 20 = bigs, mox nix. Then look at Goodwin of Kentucky, avail. at our pick mid round or later.
    Kmart, Mayo, etc. as FA & missing piece found.

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