The Missing Piece: Narrowing our Focus

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Published: February 23, 2013
Missing Piece Davis Ryno

The Trade Deadline came and went without very much movement, but that might not be the worst thing for the Hornets. Lack of movement at this time could mean more movement in the offseason, as teams get a reality check in the playoffs after the roster they loved so much and didn’t want to touch, crashes down in flames. Monty and Dell came out yesterday and flat out said that the roster will be different next year and according to Monty specifically, “This is not the team we are going to end up with.”

At this point, let’s take a step back and evaluate the targets that will be at the top of Dell’s list when the offseason begins and the Hornets have assets like Vasquez, Lopez, and the pick to offer in a trade and nearly $16 million in salary cap space. For the sake of this piece, I will only look at the “Big Fish” in this first section, though I acknowledge that it is more than possible that Dell Demps targets “missing pieces” instead of just one big catch. Without further adieu, here are the most likely targets.

Favorites

1. Eric Bledsoe, G, Los Angeles Clippers (via trade)

Even though the Hornets didn’t do anything, I would argue that they were big winners this week. There were rumors of an Eric Bledsoe for Paul Milsap swap and not only would that have taken Bledsoe off the table as an option for the foreseeable future, but it would have made the Jazz that much stronger long term. Instead, the Jazz risk getting nothing in return for Milsap, and the Hornets appear to be in the best position to land Bledsoe in a trade this summer.

Make no mistake, the Clippers will trade him this summer once they know CP3 is secure, and several teams will have interest. Those teams will likely include the Mavericks, the Jazz, Orlando, and New Orleans- provided that none of those teams take a point guard in the draft. Of the teams that show interest, the Hornets have the ability to put the best offer on the table as they have two guys on great contracts who could fill a position of need in Vasquez and Lopez. They also have their own picks every year moving forward, and the financial flexibility to take on a bad contract (DeAndre Jordan) if that is what it takes.

Those who just look at raw numbers will question whether a move from Vasquez to Bledsoe would be a significant upgrade, but those who have actually watched the two men play will not. Bledsoe showed a tremendous ability to run a team in the games Chris Paul missed before the All-Star break and the difference between these two on the defensive end is equivalent to the difference between Al-Farouq Aminu and LeBron James on the offensive end. And that is not hyperbole for the sake of being provocative, it is straight up fact.

2. Nikola Pekovic, C, Minnesota Timberwolves (Restricted Free Agent)

Like Vasquez, Robin Lopez has had a nice season when you look at his raw numbers, but when you actually watch this Hornets big man rotation perform you see that there is something missing. That something is rebounding and toughness. All four of the Hornets bigs are highly skilled, but they are more finesse, and when a team like Chicago comes into town, they get pushed around and bullied. The playoffs are a much more physical game, and this inability to secure defensive boards and provide a physical presence in the paint would kill the Pelicans moving forward.

Enter Nikola Pekovic, who could solve both of these issues. While Pekovic is restricted, the Timberwolves reportedly think it would be absurd to give him 11+ million per year. I don’t. A sign and trade similar to the one with Gustavo Ayon for Ryan Anderson could go down, where the Hornets give Pekovic a big offer, then talk the Timberwolves into a sign and trade for a much cheaper Lopez, so that they will not match it. Other teams will likely come calling after Pekovic, but having Lopez as a trade chip might make it easier for New Orleans to secure him.

3. Brandon Jennings, PG, Milwaukee Bucks (Restricted Free Agent)

The Milwaukee Bucks gambled at the deadline, choosing to make a push for the playoffs rather than moving Jennings for some assets. It’s a gamble because they could lose Jennings for nothing this summer. But according to reports, the Bucks are confident that nobody will throw a max offer at Jennings, and Milwaukee feels comfortable matching most numbers below the max. But what happens if Dell does throw the max at him? Will Milwaukee match even though they have said he is not worth that much? Will they look to do a sign and trade at that point, rather than match?

Like the first two on this list, Jennings can be had for the right price, and Demps will be one of the few GM’s with a ton of cap space and cost effective quality assets to offer up in a sign and trade. Dell has been after Jennings for nearly two years now, and there is no reason to believe that he won’t pursue him aggressively when he is on the open market. Honestly, the biggest factor will be what direction New Orleans goes in the June draft. If Marcus Smart or Trey Burke are the best guys on the board when we pick and Dell grabs one of them, then there is no need for Jennings. But if any position other than PG is drafted, then you can expect Dell to go all out for either Jennings or Bledsoe.

Darkhorses and Minor Pieces

Two darkhorses to keep an eye on: Andrew Bynum and Kevin Martin. Look, somebody is going to take a gamble on Bynum this offseason, and we know that Monty loves the idea of having two big guys locking down the paint. Why does he love it? Because of what Gasol and Bynum did to this team two years ago in the playoffs. You know that Monty would be giddy over the prospect of putting Davis and Bynum next to each other in the frontcourt, but it’s Dell’s decision whether or not to take that risk. Of course it will all come down to the price tag and what the doctors say, so until we know those two factors, let’s not count this out quite yet.

Another guy that Monty and Dell love is Kevin Martin. We were told by numerous people that he was the guy they targeted in the CP3 trade and a big reason why they settled on the original trade before Stern nixed it. Kevin Martin is an unrestricted free agent this summer and if the Hornets decide to move Gordon for a PG or SF, then Martin can step right in and replace him at shooting guard. While it is true that Martin just turned 30 this month, his game does not depend on crazy athleticism, so it is reasonable to expect that he continues to play at his current level for at least another 3-4 years and he can continue to be an effective player for another 2-3 years after that.

As for minor pieces, Dell will likely have his choice of a couple of Nuggets small forwards in Corey Brewer and Wilson Chandler. Denver figures to re-sign Iguodala this summer, and that along with the bump in pay to Ty Lawson, means that they will lose some of their depth. Whether it is Brewer in free agency or Wilson Chandler in a salary dump trade, Dell should be able to land either of these guys if he wants them. Chase Budinger is an unrestricted free agent that can fill the small forward spot, and don’t rule out the possibility that Indiana moves Danny Granger this summer just to get out of the final year of his contract.

Scratch off the List

Andre Iguodala, Paul Milsap, Al Jefferson, and Josh Smith can all be scratched off the list for this summer, if they were ever really on it. Normally at this time of year, contenders take on long term salary in order to win now, but that didn’t happen this time. As a result, nearly a dozen teams will head into the summer with 10+ million dollars in cap space and each of these guys will get paid big time money by teams that can offer them the ability to contend this year. My fingers are crossed that Houston is the team that overpays for Smith and he kills the chemistry they are building there with his unwarranted long-range jumpers.

2013 NBA Draft Class

So now that the trade deadline has passed and March Madness is upon us, it is incumbent on you to start doing your draft research. This class has been called weak by some, which causes others to repeat that despite the fact that they have not evaluated for themselves, and it just goes on and on until everyone labels it weak without really having looked into it. Believe me, I have looked into this class, and it is not weak. What it does not have is the elite first tier. There is not one guy in this class that I can point to and guarantee will make multiple All-Star games, but what I can do is guarantee that this class will produce more regular starters than the 2012 draft class. It is deeper with regard to the number of guys who can be the #3-#7 guy in your rotation.

But make no mistake, there are several guys in this class who have star potential, like Kansas’s Ben McLemore, Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart, and Kentucky’s Nerlens Noel. If everybody in this class reaches their ceiling, those are easily the three best players. Anthony Bennett and Shabazz Mohammed are just a step behind those guys potential-wise, simply because they don’t have as much versatility in their games. Otto Porter, Alex Len, Cody Zeller, and Victor Oladipo are right there as well, because they have both produced in college and they have quite a bit of untapped potential to take their game up a notch. Meanwhile CJ McCollum and Trey Burke might be the most pro-ready, able to have a Damian Lillard type impact right out of the gate.

As of last night’s loss, the Hornets are tied for the 6th pick, with several teams creeping up on them, should they continue to lose games like they have since the break. Looking at the standings the other way, it is hard to imagine a scenario where the Hornets climb higher than 10th. So figure the odds at drafting 1-3 or 8-10 as about 20% each, with a 60% chance of the Hornets drafting 4-7. With that in mind, let’s look at the Hornets Big Board as of today so you know exactly who to watch these last couple of months in college basketball. And as a bonus, I will give you each player’s next televised game so you can tune in.

1. Ben McLemore, SG, Kansas 

Shooting guard in the mold of a Ray Allen or Allen Houston. Monday 8PM @ISU on ESPN

2. Marcus Smart, PG, Oklahoma State

Point guard who can play SG as well that reminds me of young Dwayne Wade. Today, 1PM, vs. WVU on ESPN2

3. Nerlens Noel, PF/C, Kentucky

Young Marcus Camby, but even more raw offensively. Out with an ACL, will not play again this year.

4. Otto Porter, SF, Georgetown

Nic Batum or Paul George type of SF. Today at 3PM vs. Syracuse on CBS

5. Shabazz Muhammed, SG/SF. UCLA

A taller, left-handed Eric Gordon. March 2nd at 8PM vs. Arizona on ESPN

6. Victor Oladipo, SG, Indiana

A more athletic Bobby Phills. Tuesday, 6PM @Minn on ESPN

7. Cody Zeller, PF/C, Indiana

Solid, but unspectacular in similar ways to Greg Monroe.  Tuesday, 6PM @ Minn on ESPN

8. Anthony Bennett, PF, UNLV

Could be Z-Bo w/athleticism. March 2nd, 3PM @Nevada on NBC Sports Network

9. Alex Len, C, Maryland

Ceiling is Tyson Chandler with a jumper. Today, 11AM vs. Clemson on ESPN2

10. Trey Burke, PG, Michigan

Could be next Terrell Brandon. Tomorrow, Noon vs. Illinois on ESPN

 

Others to Watch: Michael Carter-Williams, Syracuse; Glenn Robinson III, Michigan; Alex Poythress, Kentucky

49 comments
hewhorocks
hewhorocks

Its about competitive advantage. Given that GV isnt going to stop CP3 or westbrook or Irving is Bledsoe going to do that much better that its worth giving up additional resources? So maybe CP3 would have to work a bit harder but Bledsoe isnt going to really stop him either and then you have a downgraded yourself at other positions so you can pull off the trade which doesnt actually net you a positional advantage in the games where it counts. The hornets have to figure out who they are to try and win. Right now they have youth, a max contract player who isnt living up to the contract and a re-branding coming in the off season.

cgrand
cgrand

agree with my fellow jerry's kid above PG is league average which is fine the 2 and the 3 are well below average which is not fine in my opinion AD's improvement next year will be equivalent to signing another player...his defense will take a jump and his minutes will go up i am discounting any meaningful contribution from austin rivers, but i'd love to be wrong. in the meantime this teams cries out for a slashing wing who can also be a stopper, and a bruiser in the paint. we are fine at PG (vasquez, not roberts) and to me bledsoe would be a wasted opportunity

hewhorocks
hewhorocks

What is Vasquez? He's a league average point guard with a good contract, good character, and room for improvement with experience. Point guard is not the missing piece. An upgrade at that position is not going to be the difference between tittle contention and the lottery. The play at the 2 has been poor. At the 3? Well athleticism and effort count for something but in terms of results-poor and the ceiling is not as high as I think we would have hoped. I dont see you being able to trade Lopez and Vasquez away for a point guard- someone else's backup- and hope to improve overall.

mojart
mojart

FA-Pekovic... Draft: Otto Porter Regards to the bledsoe vs vasquez debate yet again...give me bledsoe anyday of the week...WHY?because he can run and play defense...remember the so called ELITE PG are all gonna be playing in the playoffs (cp3,parker,westbrook,curry,lawson)can GV guard them?the answer is NO...if we are thinking big and want to make the playoffs do u want GV running your team and get sick and frustrated when TP or lawson or westbrook always blows by him for easy two?remember the kyrie show against the cavs when he make GV useless on the court? GV is given the chance to run this team because we have no option to play the PG....he is good but give bledsoe also a chance...for me he is rondo mold...sorry MM but i will not give GV,rolo and a pick for him....maybe the two + roberts or a 2nd rd pick but not a 1st rd pick...:)

ACStamp
ACStamp

I'm not sold on Bledsoe. Everything about him reminds me of Collison - looked great backing up CP, people rave about his defense blah blah blah. I just don't think he's ready to be a full time STARTING PG...as somebody mentioned above, he hasn't been a starting PG since high school.

NOH Domination
NOH Domination

Next subject: Trey Burke will be better than Marcus Smart. Tell me why I'm wrong.

NOH Domination
NOH Domination

I'm going to try this again.... Oladipo will never be a starter in the NBA!!!!!!

Snow
Snow

Do you think it's possible we make a trade before the draft and have two first round picks?

Jason Calmes
Jason Calmes

It would have to be a trade agreed to during the draft and consummated afterwards since the trade deadline has passed.

jsl05
jsl05

Can we have a trade certification proposal this year? I know I've asked before, but it would be interesting to see some proposals.

chiefyoungblood
chiefyoungblood

I haven't read anything yet , but was curious is their any chance the hornets makes a move for a second rounder and try out a guy like McDerment at SF ?

andrewdenenea
andrewdenenea

The way Otto Porter played today I would love to have him start at SF next year for the Pelicans. When we ship off Eric Gordon I really want to get another top 10 pick to land Victor Oladipo(50%+ from three this year). Hopefully, Roger Mason will be around next year to teach these guys the league. Please no Zeller he in a best case scenario is a Nick Collision that doesn't take charges. Zeller also doesn't rebound well against other bigs.

scott
scott

I would absolutely love trading Vasquez, Lopez and 2014 first for Bledsoe, and wouldn't mind at all if we took back Deandre's bad contract as he's still young and would fill a huge hole for us. The only hole I can find on that roster would be backup PG. I was wondering if anybody knew of any free agents out there to fill that void. Maybe it's an older guy to fill the veteran prescence hole on a one year deal. Or maybe it's one of those young vets that dell loves that could actually be a peice for the future. Anybody got any ideas?

cmcmil1
cmcmil1

504ever I wouldn't say that you only risk overpaying on injured players. If we're talking about Gordon specifically, which I thought we were, then I don't think we're overpaying for his talent--we're overpaying for him relative to his performance and his availability, both of which are linked to injury. If we're able to use our current assets: Vasquez, Lopez, and 2014 pick to fill our hole at PG while using our 2013 pick to fill our hole at SF then we're probably fine taking on a short term bad contract given the cap room Dell has engineered for us. Bledsoe is the centerpiece and will make the Pels better than what we have right now in Vasquez. Lopez and Vasquez' value lie almost entirely in what we can trade them for. I'd like to have that 2014 pick and no one wants to take on a bad contract if they have to, it's still a small price for a significant upgrade at PG.

504ever
504ever

What about starting and back-up SF? How do you deal with that weakness when you have Jordan's $11M/year on the books for the next two years. And how do you keep payroll down without the quality cheap labor of a 2014 1st round draft pick? That's the problem. You are limiting your options too much in this trade.

504ever
504ever

cmcmil1, I don't agree with you about overpaying only being a risk for injured players, but I will leave that discussion for another post (as well as the prospect of Vasquez and Lopez improving). What I really want to know is whose bad contract will you take back in your Vasquez, Lopez, and our 2014 1st rounder for Bledsoe trade? We ship out $6M in salaries and have to get $3.85M-$7.5M more in salaries back. My point is a trade of Vasquez, Lopez, and our 2014 1st rounder for Bledsoe doesn't work. We have to take back some crappy contract, too. And I say that is too much. (Teams would likely pay us a 1st round pick to take a crappy contract, not the other way round.)

cmcmil1
cmcmil1

I take the risk. Vasquez limits our ability to progress in the playoffs. Lopez is the least valuable of our big men. At this point Bledsoe is the better option at PG and Lopez/Vasquez/draft pick would be an acceptable price to pay in order to upgrade that position. If people want to take a lesson from the Gordon saga, it should be that you don't overcommit to personnel who can't stay on the court. I don't think we run that same risk with Bledsoe.

504ever
504ever

Scott, I don't know about other people, but I am not overvaluing our players. I am realistically valuing Bledsoe. His salary next year is $2.6M and his Qualifying Offer the next year is $3.7M. Do you understand what a Qualifying Offer means? It means if you make it, you get to match any other offer the player receives and keep him. Can you say Eric Gordon? Because we could be in another situation where the player (Bledsoe) wants out and/or another team wants him so badly they will over pay for him. So the Pelicans are left with a choice of overpaying to keep (Bledsoe) or getting nothing of consequence for him. That risk has to be factored into the equation.

scott
scott

Bring back aminu for cheap. You have aminu porter and your choice of Thomas/miller. I'm fine with giving Jordan 11 mil for 2 years, it's either that or give pekovich 14 mil. Our roster is literally set for the future across the board everywhere. Two years of Jordan gives Davis enough time to put on weight before he can play center. Everyone on this site overvalued our players so much. You don't think think other teams realize that Lopez is the worst rebounding center in league? He's straight garbage at pick and roll D. So's Vasquez. You think we can contend with all the elite PG's in the league destroying Vasquez in a playoff series. If you don't like Bledsoe then you have to know that we Vasquez won't get you past the first round. And other teams know that. Also I really think that 2014 first rounder won't be that valueable because I think we'll make the playoffs next year.

Jason Calmes
Jason Calmes

I think by "everyone" you mean "some people"

CoReMeGa
CoReMeGa

I like that we didn't make any moves before the deadline. It gives us a chance to take the best player available in the draft.. which should turn out to be a nice player. Then Dealer Demps can really make some deals. I do really like Fro-Pez but think that it would be a great trade to put a Human Bull of a player like Pekovic next to AD for the next few years. During that time it'll allow AD to add some muscle and be the center of the future that other teams are tying to compensate for!!! Lopez and maybe Smith or Miller and a 2nd round pick for Pek would be yet another fantastic trade!

thouse
thouse

What's the word on Jeff Teague? I like him much more than Jennings. Is Atlanta set on matching any offers for him? If they want two max contract spaces, don't they have to renounce his rights and free up his cap hold?

jsl05
jsl05

Players can be stupid: how do you think it would go in the locker room if you just traded the NBA MIP who averages 13 and 10 (9.5) for a guy who averages 9 and 3? And then you also put in a guy averaging 11 and 5 with 2bp at a position no one else on this team can replace? And then you add the 2014 draft pick as if the rest isn't enough? The players would not be at all happy if we traded Gravy, Ro-Lo, and a 2014 1st for Bloodsoe.

Michael McNamara
Michael McNamara

Players are smart. They don't get blinded by "fake stats" as Monty calls it. Eventually, Vasquez and Lopez will be remembered the same way that Lee Nailon and Dan Dickau are remembered- guys who put up really good numbers on a bad team that won't have much of a role on a contender. Talent evaluators know the truth and that is why it will take these two and then some to get a guy like Bledsoe who has significant talent and upside. I know I will just get some numbers thrown back at me, and that's fine, but in 2-3 years the truth will be clear to everyone. I am fine with people thinking I am wrong on this an then not getting the credit when I am right down the line. Just trying to inform on this site, and if people dont agree they are more than welcome to keep their opinions. But objectively, that is what it will take to get him, like it or not.

Hank
Hank

I think that the major point though is that the value of these assets in Lopez, Vasquez, and the 1st round draft picks are only going to decrease because as we become a better team and maybe even a playoff team, we are only going to get more heavily scouted and the major weaknesses of vasquez and lopez are going to get picked apart much worse.

jsl05
jsl05

Really? Look at how upset all the Memphis players were (excluding Randolph) when the Grizzlies traded Rudy Gay. His advanced stats were terrible, but his fake stats were good. I'm fine with trading Vasquez and Lopez, but I'm not including a 2014 first-round pick as well. Pick 2 of the 3. Sometimes there just needs to be a limit; and, as of now, that's mine. I'm not throwing away all my assets for an unknown. I'm not disagreeing that he can be great, but his value cannot be all that high. Why do the Clippers want all that for a guy that only plays 21.8 minutes/game? Vasquez and Lopez would help them tremendously; why would they want a 2014 first? Look at Perry Jones III and Jeremy Lamb in Oklahoma City. I expect Bledsoe to be a great player, but he isn't right now. He's pretty good. His game doesn't remind me of (it's better than) Darren Collison's, but his situation does (DC's rookie season). He's done well in spurts and has capitalized when CP3 went down.

Michael McNamara
Michael McNamara

I'm not the one who said that "it doesnt matter if you score 25 points on one end, if you are giving up 40 on the other end." That was Monty. All these things we are talking about- Most Improved Player, Conference player of the week, etc. are based off stats and then guys who havent even watched them play vote. Vasquez looks great on paper, but I cant believe anybody who watches the games actually thinks he is a long term piece. Talent evaluators know what Monty knows- that he is one of the worst defensive guards in the league and a good team couldnt afford to keep him on the court for more than 15 minutes a game in this league. Lopez isn't much different, as Ryan pointed out last night. Teams will just continue to put him in the pick and roll if we are ever fortunate enough to get to the playoffs. He cant grab a defensive rebound and that is just unacceptable in the playoffs. Are they better than Nailon and Dickau. Sure, by a little bit. But the point remains, they are too deficient in major areas to be any more than 7th or 8th men on a good team, and the Clippers arent taking two 8th men for Bledsoe (let alone one). They will ask for more, and I would be fine with giving it to them because Dell can find more 8th men around the corner, just like he found these two and gave up barely anything to acquire them. Just like he got Ayon, Belinelli, and Smith for scraps. Dell can find these guys, but guys like Bledsoe are more rare, so when you get a chance, you move guys you can easily replace for guys you can't. You don't hang on because they "try hard" or are better than you expected them to be.

Jason Calmes
Jason Calmes

Players that are better than their contract but aren't necessary pieces to some abstract title team you are trying to realize are trade bait. Vasquez's value is highest in terms of what he can bring to us in a trade. Lopez I'm not so sure about. He's a rarer commodity, but his contract is larger for better or worse . . . his reputation is low, but he's shown improvement. He may be the more valuable chip though he appeals to a smaller set of teams, I suppose.

504ever
504ever

Lee Nailon and Dan Dickau are you comparisons for Lopez and Vasquez? Dickau and Nailon were both NBA journeymen who never played for the same team after their second seasons. Nailon played seven years in the NBA and only one year after leaving our Hornets. Dickau played eight years, but only three after he left the Hornets. Do you think Vasquez or Lopez will be out of the league in a year? In three? I don't. They are both productive players who haven't missed a game this year! Forget statistics, which favor Vasquez and Lopez overwhelmingly, for a minute. Both Vasquez and Lopez are legitimate candidates for the Most Improved Award, and Vasquez was a Conference Player of the Week. You don't get that kind of recognition from stats alone. And I don't remember either Nailon or Dickau getting it. Vasquez and Lopez may not be NBA starters for every team, but they aren't nomadic journeymen either.

Hank
Hank

I think the players are probably pretty frustrated with Vaquez right now considering his inability to finish in the final minute of the game and his complete lack of defense. Its clear that Monty is and the starters would probably be pretty happy if we brought a guy like bledsoe in to take an enormous defensive load off of the rest of the team

WhoDatPelican96
WhoDatPelican96

Jsi05 your logic on tanking is extremely flawed there.

504ever
504ever

Hank, I think you missed JS105's point. I wasn't about Bledsoe or Vasquez, it was about giving up three or more quality pieces for one. Maybe you do that if you are one piece away from greatness. I don't see how you do that when you are the 2013 Hornets/Pelicans. Think about what you could "buy" with Vasquez, Lopez, the 2014 draft pick (which could still be a lottery pick), and cap space to take back a bad contract? At worst Vasquez and Lopez are fringe starters/quality back-ups who will average 20+ minutes a game on just about any team in the NBA. Plus they have great contracts. Lopez has a great contact for his performance; the next two years at $5M/each and both years are team options. Vasquez is a similar value; he makes $2.1M next year and then his qualifying offer is $3.2M. If things go well, the 2014 Pelicans will be battling for a playoff spot at best. And to do that they will need to have at least 12 more wins. Who can you add to make that happen? How many games will Gordon have to play? If Gordon is traded, how durable and useful will the assets we get back be? And finally, what other team(s) will drive the market price for Bledsoe up that high? What was offered for Bledsoe this time around? The expiring contract of Paul Millsap! Please! Garnett for Bledsoe and Jordan! No need for Boston to do that with Rondo's return closer after the summer. So if we can buy a lot more than Bledsoe with Vasquez, Lopez, the 2014 draft pick, and cap space to take back a bad contract, and if Bledsoe's market price appears to be significantly less than that, maybe we get Bledsoe at a more reasonable price. If not we shop elsewhere.

jsl05
jsl05

I personally think we were tanking with that shot. I was extremely upset with it and didn't understand why we didn't give it to Gordon. Vasquez does lack defense, but I don't think the players are too upset with Vasquez. He has dealt with his limitations and has still played better than almost everyone on the team. Usually the players that are upset are the superstars, and I'm not sure we have those. I think Monty would rather Bledsoe, and I would too. I'm still trying to figure out his value and what I'd give up for him.

marios123
marios123

I really hope we can keep Vasquez even though it seems he is not the long term answer at starting pg. The guy is a leader and his teammates love him. I believe that if we get the chance, we should trade the pick and lopez for a guy like bledsoe. Then go hard after pekovic ( I would offer max money considering the urgent need for a physical big ). Oh and by the way, why the heck is rivers still playing SG? It is clear that he can become a very good distributor that will be also a threat to score with his drible drive if he continues to grow at this rate. I mean, we can all remember how painful it was to watch him at the beginning of the season, but everygame hhe seems to be improving.

ImSorryMonty
ImSorryMonty

I will be so disappointed if we end up with Shabazz Muhammed. A left handed, taller Eric Gordon is just entirely inaccurate. For one, he lacks the athleticism and explosiveness that EG10 does. For two, he doesn't play defense, at all, ever. For three, if people think Gordon's attitude is questionable, then you truly don't want Shabazz. Monty's done a great job of getting guys with high motors and positive team attitudes, Shabazz has neither. I know I'm in the minority here but color me unimpressed. That being said, if he falls to 6 or 7 with the top 4 on your list off the board and us picking, I'd trade the pick to some team that wants Shabazz and buys into the hype train (Minnesota's Derrick Williams or something in that area).

NOH Domination
NOH Domination

You completely lost me when you suggested Oladipo should be higher on the Hornets board than Zeller... Oladipo, a shooting guard.. The position of Eric Gordon.. I can understand Mclemore because when you have the opportunity to take the best player in the draft you don't care who you have on your team. Don't get me wrong, Oladipo exemplifies what you want out of a bench player. He can come in for stretches and lock down with unmatched intensity and nail a few corner threes. But you don't take that when you have 2 starters sitting there (Zeller and Burke) especially when you have a max guy and a 2nd year first round pick at the position. I know most people have Smart ahead of Trey Burke, but having watched both of them I just don't know how. Maybe Smart has a better NBA body, but what does that matter when he's way less talented. Finally Nerlens Noel reminds me of Emeka.. I never want an Emeka on my team ever again. I'd take Zeller before him every time.

Hank
Hank

Everyone talks about how losing Vasquez would hurt the team because of the leadership he brings, but when Bledsoe came into this league having highly touted leadership abilities and hes shown them when he's gotten the chance to start in LA. Plus hes gotten to watch the best leader in the league for 2 years now. I think he would actually be an upgrade in that department because he provides a bulldog mentality on the defensive end that will rub off on the rest of the team; and that is something vasquez obviosly doesnt bring to the table.

come on pelican
come on pelican

You're dead-on right about the Hornets' 4 finesse bigs getting pushed around against the Bulls and not securing defensive rebounds. At one point on Tuesday night against Chicago, with about 3 minutes left and the bees having at least a slim chance to come back, the Bulls were able to reset the shot clock and keep possession 4 consecutive times. I believe Lopez may have already fouled out by that point, but it still illustrates your point. Pekovic might be just what we need. Watching Maryland on ESPN2 right now makes me think your boy Alex Len might benefit from one more year as a starter in the ACC rather than spending most of next year sitting on the bench somewhere as an NBA rookie.

come on pelican
come on pelican

Lopez fouled out on Wednesday night against the Cavs, not on Tuesday night against the Bulls. Sorry for the mistake.

JJacob
JJacob

If we dealt Gordon this year for Klay Thompson would you hop on the Trey Burke bandwagon? I know you worry about the size of a Burke-Gordon backcourt, but Klay (6'7) wouldn't have that problem.

Michael McNamara
Michael McNamara

Since it appears Gordon is gone at some point in the near future, I would now be cool with taking Burke as long term starter. I was worried about him and Gordon in backcourt, but a guy like Klay or any reasonable sized two guard eases that concern greatly for me

mattchamp4
mattchamp4

I've seen some people on here say that they are worried about a Burke-Gordon backcourt, but those same people (for the most part) would be okay with a Bledsoe-Gordon backcourt. What is the difference? These guys are of similar size

cmcmil1
cmcmil1

I was really surprised by your column last week or the week before when it sounded like you were resigned to Vasquez/Rivers at PG for the next few years. Glad to see you're back on the wagon.

Snow
Snow

Trade Lopez for Bledsoe (he could be back up to Vasquez or vice versa, either way it'll be awesome), sign Pek to whatever deal you can to get him, draft a SF, sign another SF just for depth. Boom playoff contention here we come!

jsl05
jsl05

I really think Bledsoe is the better player right now; I just don't think he fits with the team. If (hopefully) we trade Gordon, then I'd consider it.

Michael McNamara
Michael McNamara

Zero percent chance you get Bledsoe for Lopez. It would take at least Lopez, Vasquez, and 2014 1st. Maybe more. And I would honestly be fine with that package if that is what it cost. From there, I agree- sign Pekovic and Brewer, draft Otto Porter. Boom goes the dynamite.

Snow
Snow

Only thing I wouldn't want to do is include Vasquez. He's not the best PG in the game but he's pretty good for the people around him if you ask me. I have a question for you Michael, if we traded Gordon for Klay, do you think Vasquez or Bledsoe would be a better fit with him?

jsl05
jsl05

There's no way I do that. Bledsoe is great in spurts, but can he really play a full 36 minutes? He hasn't had to play much since high school because he was behind John Wall at Kentucky. Also Vasquez fits much better with Gordon than Bledsoe does. Bledsoe plays excellent defense, but how long will it last? Can he play at that high level for 36? His game is predicated on his elite athleticism, and that will eventually go away. I'd rather have Bledsoe as a player, but Vasquez is a leader on this team, has great chemistry with it, is well respected by it, and fits better with it. Bledsoe also has the same turnover problems that Vasquez has. Then you throw in Lopez, hoping that we can sign Pekovic. The likelihood is that we don't. He likes it in Minnesota, and the like him. They will sign him for $12 million (if not, that's crazy). So, we'll once again have a hole at center. Then the 2014 pick is a great asset due to how great that draft will be. At the end of this deal, we will have given away 3 good assets for what deserved two.