The Missing Piece: Sizing Up the Competition

Published: November 17, 2012

While we search for the missing piece, we also have to keep a careful eye on our competitors

The fact of the matter is that if you are going to add a player via free agency or on the trade market, then you are going to have to be competing with other teams to do so. We like to conjure up imaginary trades and justify why it is a fair deal for both squads, but that doesn’t necessarily make it a realistic trade. A realistic trade proposal is one that not only benefits the other team, but it also benefits the other team more than any other offer they could get for that player or players. The Lakers offer for CP3 was fair, the Clippers package was just better.

As the Hornets try to identify their missing piece, they also have to remain cogniscent of other teams who have these same guys penciled in as potential foundation pieces for their squad. A third of the league will have significant cap room this summer and another eight to ten teams are just a move or two away from becoming players in the market. While the Hornets look like they will have plenty have cap space, it is not as promising when it comes to the trade market. On that front, the Hornets are rather thin when it comes to the assets they can offer.

If you listened to Friday’s podcast, you have an idea of what kind of value Eric Gordon has around the league. Rivers is a B minus asset at best at this point in his career. Same with Vasquez and Aminu. Lopez or Smith could both be solid additions to any trade package, but aren’t going to bring you back anything significant on their own. The Hornets biggest assets are Anderson and Davis, but they aren’t going anywhere. So for the Hornets to really get a significant deal done, they will likely have to trade picks and/or take on a bad contract. Point guard and a three or four who can compliment Anderson and Davis still look to be the positions that Dell will target over the next ten months, so with that in mind, let’s look at our competitors.

Point Guards

Possibilities: Brandon Jennings, Chris Paul

Dallas Mavericks

Dallas has to make a splash this summer after missing out on Deron Williams, and Brandon Jennings or Chris Paul could both be targets of Mark Cuban and company. The Mavericks can get under the cap by about $25 million this summer, which would be enough to give CP3 a super max or perhaps bring in a combination like Jennings and Andrew Bynum to play with Dirk.

Utah Jazz

No chance CP3 goes here, but how would Jennings look running the pick and roll with Derrick Favors for the next ten years? Milsap and Jefferson are both free agents this summer and the Jazz could go into the offseason with their five young guys (Kanter, Favors, Hayward, Evans, and Burks), their own first rounder and Golden State’s 1st, along with $40 million in cap room. A young guy like Jennings could fit very nicely into that mix.

Atlanta Hawks

If there is one dark horse for CP3, this is it. The Knicks, Lakers, Nets, and Heat are out of the picture due to lack of assets and financial flexibility. Things look great in Clipperland right now, but CP3 was on a team that started 11-1 the year before he demanded to be traded, so things can change very quickly in the NBA. If things blow up in LA, Atlanta could move Horford and Lou Williams very easily, opening up enough room to bring back Josh Smith and welcome a CP3/Dwight combo to the A-T-L.

Three’s and Four’s

Possibilities: Andre Iguodala, Josh Smith, Paul Milsap

Los Angeles Lakers

The Lakers will not have the cap room this summer for any of these guys, but they have a big trade chip in Paul Gasol right now, and frankly, any of these guys would look better in D’Antoni’s offense than Pau. A Pau for Smith and fillers deal could work for both Atlanta and LA, and the Nuggets could entertain a Iggy/Danillo for Pau deal if Galinari keeps playing this bad. If the Lakers swing a deal for any of these guys and have their Bird Rights, you can expect them to overpay to keep them in the summer.

Houston Rockets

They have Harden, Lin, and Asik as a mini-foundation. Adding one of these guys to that trio could make them dangerous and the Rockets will have the cap space to do it. Factor in that guys love playing with Harden and Texas’s lack of a state income tax, and this could be a destination for free agents. Any of these guys would look good here, but I would have to believe Josh Smith would be their top target and they could realistically get him.

Indiana Pacers

This one is a little tricky, because they would probably have to find a taker for Danny Granger, but if they do, they could inject some life into their three and four positions, as David West’s contract expires at the end of the year. Milsap just seems like an Indiana type of player and his game would fit perfectly next to Roy Hibbert.

Cleveland Cavaliers

You figure that this will be the last season that the Cavs miss the playoffs, and as Kyrie Irving continues his ascent into superstardom, he needs one more piece to help him make noise in the East. Andre Iguodala could give this team a scary trio (w/Irving and Dion Waiters) that can defend, get steals, and run all night. Cleveland will have the cap room, and if their young bigs continue to develop, they will be solid at every position other than the three. A perfect place for Iggy.

Shot in the Dark

Multiple things would have to break our way for this to happen, but it is not impossible, so I deem it worthy of a paragraph. How would Anthony Davis and Andrew Bynum look next to each other for the Hornets? With Davis working on his face up game, a low post player like Bynum could be a devastating combination on both ends of the court. If he and Philadelphia can’t come to terms, might Philly entertain a package centered around Eric Gordon and Robin Lopez? Or perhaps Lopez and Ryan Anderson? Again, it’s a long-shot and with his injury issues it is not even clear that we would want him if it was an option, but something to consider nonetheless.

One Game to Watch This Week

UCLA vs. Georgetown, Monday 7:00 CST on ESPN2

There is a good chance that UCLA super freshman Shabazz Muhammad will be available, as he has been reinstated by the NCAA. But even if he isnt, there are some terrific players to watch that could become future Hornets. Georgetown’s Otto Porter is a small forward who can defend at an elite level and do multiple things on the offensive end. Meanwhile, UCLA’s Jordan Adams is an exciting player who can flat out score. So far this season he is putting up 24 ppg in just 25 minutes, shooting 56% from the field and 40% from three. And for those of you who are looking for the next Royce White, minus the anxiety issues, check out Kyle Anderson. Oh, and they also have players named Josh Smith and Tony Parker. I would take their NBA namesakes in a millisecond.

The Missing Piece is a weekly article that you can find every Saturday only on For past articles in this series, click here.


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