« Stat of the Week
Hornets Beat: Anthony Davis and Dell Demps
Highlighting a less than stellar week for the New Orleans Hornets, Anthony Davis set a career high for points scored and Dell Demps was extended. Our writers give their takes.
1. I’ve been _____ with the Hornets performance so far this season
Ryan Schwan: Satisfied. Look, the Hornets have teased us with levels of competence we weren’t expecting, but this is at least a three-year rebuilding process. Having success that leads to a playoff berth this season might be sweet now, but we would be better served if it happens next year.
Jason Calmes: Pleased. The guys are playing well after so much turnover. Aminu and Lopez are playing better than expected. Given the circumstances, I see no reason to be anything less than pleased with how the team has responded to the challenges presented to them.
James Grayson: Excited. That first Spurs game had me feeling like the Chris Paul days when I actually wanted to win. While I know that we don’t want to win a championship this year or maybe even the next, it’s nice to know that competitive spirit for Hornets fandom has returned.
Michael McNamara: Encouraged. The fact of the matter is that it was never about wins and losses for me this year, I just wanted to get an idea of what direction we were heading. Anthony Davis has surpassed my expectations offensively and Ryan Anderson seems to be getting more comfortable in Monty’s offense every day. Add Aminu’s jump on the defensive end and Vasquez’s moments of brilliance, and I am encouraged.
Joe: Content. The pluses addressed by my colleagues are more than enough to compensate for the fact that yet again the Hornets are near the bottom of the league in pace (28th). Not only do I prefer to watch basketball at a faster pace, but I’m convinced it would benefit the team.
2. Fact or Fiction: Anthony Davis will be an All-Star this season
RS: Fiction He doesn’t have the explosive dunking game of Griffin that propelled him to the All-Star game so early. In the future? Multiple berths.
JC: Fiction. The removal of Center from the ballots was done to include more bigs who are classic centers, which could help Davis. However, there are too many `names’ ahead of him in the West: Howard, Aldridge, Durant, Griffin, Gasol, Love, Duncan could all be in there. Then there are other veterans whose body of work could influence how it goes. I just see the odds being against Mr. Davis.
JG: Fiction. While he’s done surprisingly well offensively it’s his defense that’s a concern. Continually left floating on the perimeter and never going down to get the rebound or try and block a shot has me concerned. All-Star considerations will not be there even if he continues the great offensive numbers.
MM: Fiction. Rookies with even better seasons have been denied because it is viewed as something that has to be earned over a more significant period of time. Add that to the fact that the West is stacked on the front line and I think Davis will only shine in the rookie game this year, but will be a fixture for the West starting next year when the All-Star game comes back to the Big Easy.
Joe: Fiction, but at this rate he should. Right now AD is 7th in the league in PER and 3rd among big men out West, trailing only Kevin Durant and the immortal Tim Duncan. If he’s still top-10 by the time coaches make their decisions regarding backups, they’ll be making a mistake leaving him off.
3. Dell Demps was recently the recipient of a new 3-year extension. What’s the worst deal he has ever made?
RS: Eric Gordon. Easily. Gordon, like Michael and I said on the podcast, should have been turned into a sign and trade.
JC: Matching the Suns’ offer to Eric Gordon. Phoenix would have sent us something of quality and an expiring contract. Our interest in Lopez would have been something to talk about. At the moment, over half of our cap space is not playing for the team (Lewis, Gordon, Carroll). About half of that is Gordon’s salary. If he can move Gordon without destroying the team, maybe the Bayless trade takes front-and-center, maybe Henry for a second.
JG: I think a lot of people will probably point to the non-move that Demps made when trying to trade Chris Paul. While it’s a clear fact that no owner would sign off on the failed Lakers deal it still reflects negatively on Demps. If he sees that as a move to improve a team’s roster then perhaps we should be a little bit more skeptical about his ability to build a contender.
MM: I am glad this one is a no-brainer because the Gordon contract is so bad that if Dell had another move on par with that one, he wouldn’t have gotten an extension. Maybe we are just prisoners of the moment and two years from now the Gordon contract will look like a bargain. But right now, it looks like a colossal mistake.
Joe: It’s too early to give the Gordon deal a grade, at least in my book. The failed Paul-to-Lakers deal probably wins by default. If Dell was trying to make himself publicly look powerless as opposed to the decision maker, he sure did a good job.
4. What’s the best deal Dell has ever made?
RS: Songaila and Brackins for Willie Green and Jason Smith. Literally nothing for something – and Jason Smith is a magnificent third big man on any team. (I thought about Ayon for Anderson, but it was something for something)
JC: The Chris Paul trade. Something had to be done, and what did Dell do . . . he got a draft pick, improved our draft pick, got us expiring contracts, and Aminu. One of those expiring contracts was for Eric Gordon, a valuable trade chip at one time, one that could have netted even more assets to further increase the Paul-haul. Looking at what Anthony and Howard ended up being worth when they were eventually traded, this is clearly the class of the “superstar trades.”
JG: Outside of the Chris Paul trade I really think people overlook the GENIUS move of trading Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza for Rashard Lewis. The Hornets gained significant cap-flexibility and it is that flexibility which will allow him to add another piece to the puzzle.
MM: Dell Demps found an obscure player named Gustavo Ayon, signed him to a three year contract that became one of the best bargains in the league and then swapped him for a 24 year old quasi All-Star who is at the beginning of his prime and adding to his game every day. If you trace that back a step further, you see that the money he used to sign Ayon with came from trading a 2nd rounder (Josh Harrellson). So, basically, he traded Harrellson and some cap space for Ryan Anderson. Amazing.
Joe: Since all the good ones have been covered, I’ll go a different direction. In the Summer of 2010 Chris Paul was all but openly requesting to be traded. That is, until he had a meeting with Dell and Monty. Dell calmed down Paul and the team made the playoffs the following season, keeping interest high enough so that attendance mandates were met. Without Paul, (and prior to the “I’m In” campaign) I don’t see how that team would have met the requirements to extend their lease. It’s possible, at least in my opinion, that the Hornets wouldn’t still be here if not for the relative success of the 2010-2011 squad. While it wasn’t the best for “basketball reasons”, it was probably the best for “franchise reasons”.
5. Would you trade Austin Rivers and Al-Farouq Aminu for Marcin Gortat?
RS: That’s easy. No. Gortat is 28 and will not be a significant part of a rebuilding effort that turns around in three years. It also completely fails to address the Hornets actual weaknesses.
JC: No, not with the rest of the Hornets’ roster and salary structure intact.
MM: I would because he has more trade value that those two combined at this point. Look at the rest of that story and the other made-up offers for Gortat; Avery Bradley and Courtney Lee- yes, please! Players are assets and you want the best assets possible. Aminu isn’t a long term fixture IMO, so this trade becomes Gortat for Rivers and I think I could get more for Gortat, so I take him and open up the bidding.
JG: Never. Gortat is a good NBA player but he just doesn’t fit in NOLA. Would I prefer him over Lopez? Most certainly, but that’s who we have. As well, if Gortat is to be paid the big bucks I don’t think we should be the team to give it to him. As Ryan notes, 28 is no age to be building for 4 years down the road.
Joe: Nope. Talent-wise I think the deal is pretty fair, but the Hornets are in no hurry to win, and this deal robs them of two of their best young talents without improving the team enough this year to where they’re anything but first round playoff fodder..