Hornets Beat: Anthony Davis and Dell Demps

Published: November 19, 2012

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.

He doesn’t look like a Rhino…

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..


  1. mateor

    November 19, 2012 at 9:16 pm

    Good one guys.

    Couldn’t agree more about the Rashard Lewis trade. I had resigned myself to watching Okafor slowly break down in a Hornets uni. Without that trade, I dont know that I would feel like the Hornets were truly rebuilding.

    What a whacky business. Best move is giving up two (semi) productive players so they could pay another guy of similar value 15 mil to go away. Yet there it is.

  2. mateor

    November 19, 2012 at 10:31 pm

    Speaking of great deals, I wanted to take the temperature of one of my favorite deals from the last couple years…Jeremy Lin.

    He’s a player I root for, but one whose current PER (~14) is within shouting distance of what I would expect. When assessing his deal, there are extra-basketball benefits that he brings, but I will ignore that for the moment (although it factors into my appreciation of the deal).

    Obviously it was a highly successful poison-pill, but what I loved about it was the never before seen backloading. A highly regarded asset (for whatever reasons) for 5 mil for the next two years, a Robin Lopez amount. But it then triples to 14 mil on year three!

    How great is that? You get an asset at below market for two play-in years, and at the last year, the contract becomes a massive expiring if the player turns out to be of middling skill. The value of expiring contracts never seem to be as great as fans hope, but they are assets.

    I just thought it was a really smart contract, one I would expect to see copycats of, or perhaps NBA legislation against.

  3. xman20002000

    November 19, 2012 at 11:46 pm

    It’s simple.. with Eric Gordon we are arguably a contender… without Eric Gordon we are rebuilding… Now this is true until the trade deadline… We have to do something with the backcourt… Rivers is feeling his way and in reality Coach finds enough in him to play him.. We don’t know how much of the play book Coach is implementing… Then he has to start making his shots…

    Frankly until the backcourt is stabilized we will have problems… EG is the focal point…

  4. mojart

    November 19, 2012 at 11:53 pm

    Would you trade Austin Rivers and Al-Farouq Aminu for Marcin Gortat?

    Absolutely NO…….:)

    If Im demps i will try to call the pacers….offer them there hometown boy EG10 for Hibbert/granger/george…..

    • xman20002000

      November 20, 2012 at 12:50 am

      Some of us forget Aminu is 22 and Rivers 20…. We got rid of Brandon Bass, JR Smith, Darren Collison, Bayless, Marcus Thronton, etc. We drafted everyone but Bayless… We got rid of Darnell Arthur and Quincy Poindexter… Under Bower we brought in so-called talented free agents long in the tooth… Posey, Daniels, Banks, and yo boy playing SF/SG.. all making mid-level money tied to crazy contracts…

      Why should the Pacers give up all that talent you mentioned for an Eric Gordon who has not played a game… Injuries are part of the game… He is under contract… We are committed…

      • mojart

        November 20, 2012 at 1:39 am

        What’s the worst deal he has ever made?
        signing EG10 to a contract….we all know he doesn’t want to be here….

        sorry if the sentence is wrong or something when i said hibbert/george/granger….what i mean is either hibbert or granger or george any of the 3…not ALL of them…peace….:)

  5. 504ever

    November 20, 2012 at 4:54 am

    I think that people forget the Gordon situation was “damned if you do, damned if you don’t”, especially after Phoenix offered max money. Dell tried to temper the cost by offering Gordon less than max money, but Phoenix’s offer changed that.

    And were where all of you all when Gordon was signed? Very few posters were against it, many said Dell had no choice but to sign Gordon. (It was always a close to a 50/50 decision to me.)

    As far as the panel goes: sign and trade with who for what? Lopez, who few thought would play this well? Dell might have been run out of town for that. And where were these ideas at the time?

    The problem is simple: in the NBA “injured” players get paid for the life of their contact. For some, that takes away the incentive to play. Will Gordon be one, or is there a legitimate injury now? Time will tell.

    • Jason Calmes

      November 20, 2012 at 7:52 am

      I can tell you one place I was: On here and on the radio with a Suns blogger trying to figure out a sign-and-trade. Dudley and first-round picks in consecutive years (which they could do due to the extra picks they had).

      • Michael McNamara

        November 20, 2012 at 8:29 am

        Lopez isn’t playing that well (look at his rebounding #’s) and I would have still done EG for Dudley, Lopez, and a 1st. Wouldn’t have had to take on Warrick’s deal in that scenario, so we would still be under the cap this year, able to take on a contract at the trade deadline for an extra asset or two. Then, in the summer we would be 25-30 million under the cap with the same guys we see giving it their all every night plus Dudley and 2 first rounders.

        It was a no brainer then and it is a no brainer now. For all the praise Demps has been given, he deserves the criticism when he misses and I still don’t see how he could look at EG’s track record with injuries and agree to this deal. But such is life

      • 504ever

        November 20, 2012 at 8:53 am

        Ok, guys. Why would Phoenix do that, when they just matched? You both seem to be assuming Phoenix will overpay for Gordon. I think the more comparative sign and trade deal is Ayon for Anderson. Doing something like that with Phoenix makes rolling the dice on Gordon’s knee much more palatable.

      • Michael McNamara

        November 20, 2012 at 8:59 am

        Well they obviously were willing to part with Lopez. Dudley isn’t needed after they get Gordon, sign Beasley, and even if they only put in the Lakers 1st rounders or protected 1st rounders, I would have done it because it is about staying flexible.

        And if you don’t believe Phoenix would have parted with at least that, check out this Thursday’s podcast where we bring on Michael Schwartz of Valley of the Sun and do some revisionist history.

        Also, check out podcasts #75 and #76 where Ryan and I beg Dell to take any Phoenix deal.

      • Jason Calmes

        November 20, 2012 at 9:44 am

        Also check out the episodes of The Swarm where I discussed it (multimedia link above).

        Mike’s assessment is correct. Lopez was a RFA they were not big on, and clearly they were eilling to risk. The discussion witg VotS guys was all about pick protection and maybe Marshall.

      • xman20002000

        November 20, 2012 at 10:51 pm

        Because we matched the Suns, EG can’t be traded to them.. I don’t know for how long…

    • mateor

      November 20, 2012 at 1:37 pm

      Oh man. I think the whole site was trying to create a sign and trade through force of will and crossed-fingers. It NEVER looked good. EG may be the most promising SG under 30. But the signing seemed quite risky at the time.

      There is so much time left on the contract that the situation is still salvageable, though.

      If we panic and move him now, we’re out the asset. For nothing. This is a rebuilding year, make him follow through with the threat to ruin his career. There is still time for him to come to his senses and realize that he has to play his way out of NOLA. Unless the Hornets fold…

      • mojart

        November 20, 2012 at 6:07 pm

        can’t wait for december 15….the day we can trade EG

  6. ADubs

    November 20, 2012 at 9:36 am

    Gotta agree with Joe on the worst Demps deal… too early to tell on Gordon, especially considering that everyone else on this team of writers has consistently said that no single Demps deal is done in a vacuum and he is always looking toward the future in any current deal. Sign Gordon to the max and it goes one of a few ways… he is healthy and plays his heart out for NOLA, and we’ve got a winner; he is healthy but unhappy, demands a trade, plays at his talent level, and we find excellent value in trade with anybody but Phoenix; he is unhealthy, get’s his body right with some time and rehab, and then goes one of the first two ways.

    I think what we’re seeing is the third scenario play out… once he is healthy and playing with the other youngsters on this roster, he will either still not be feeling it with Dell/Monty but play to his ability to force trade to a better spot for him, or he will love it, play well, and we’ll love him too.

  7. Lucas Ottoni

    November 20, 2012 at 11:22 am

    1) Patient. I keep hoping the team’ development and wish that “think to the future” isn’t the same speech every year.

    2) Fiction. He will not, because he isn’t as explosive as Blake Griffin and need gain much muscle mass to be the dominant player that everyone expects.

    3) Eric Gordon (millionaire) tells us something? Moreover, trade Thornton to Landry. In just over one year, we ran out of both players. It was terrible.

    4) Ryan Anderson was an excellent acquisition. Vasquez to limited Pondexter was also a great move. But we still need a move that raises the team’ level. I’m still waiting for a “key” move, mr. Demps. Chris Paul? Brandon Jennings? Stephen Curry? Rudy Gay?

    5) Sure. Aminu will not be more than a defender, a sort of Trevor Ariza. And Austin Rivers is a bust (Bustin Rivers). Gortat is a solid center, something increasingly difficult to find. He is far superior to Robin Lopez and would form a dominant duo with Unibrow. And in my opinion, 28 years is a great age. I see no problem with that. The Polish would be an excellent hire.

  8. xman20002000

    November 20, 2012 at 10:47 pm

    Why is everyone whining about players not on the team.. So let’s have a pity party… Currently our top player is Anthony Davis… He is not yet a superstar… Rivers is finding his game… I don’t know what Henry is doing… he looks so tentative and perhaps should get more minutes…

    As the old folks would advise.. EG appears a problem that in time will work its way out… There are 70 games in front of us and tonight we needed he and Davis to beat the Knicks… Melo was in the zone… and we got played… Remember the Spurs game it was the same as last season before EG got on the court…loses because we couldn’t close..

    We need a player to play off and he only played 9 games last season… But he is trying to extend his career… We dumped Chandler for Okafor.. remember that… Basketball seems like horse racing for an owner… one injury in the wrong place and its over… WE don’t like it but that’s live…

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