Hornets Waive Shakur, Watkins

The New Orleans Hornets announced today that they have waived guard Mustafa Shakur and center Darryl Watkins, leaving the roster current roster at 16 players.

Shakur played in two preseason games for the Hornets, averaging 3.5 points, 1.5 rebounds and 1.5 assists in 13.0 minutes of play. Expected to compete for a guard spot, Shakur saw only limited time with rotational players, and was not particularly impressive. Given the recent trade for Curtis Jarrels and the recent improvement by Willie Green, it’s not surprising that Shakur won’t be around for the start of the regular season.

Watkins appeared in three preseason games for New Orleans, averaging 2.0 points and 3.0 rebounds in 9.0 minutes of action. He didn’t do anything of note, and saw his chances of making the team dwindle after the acquisition of DJ Mbenga.

DJ Strawberry and Joe Alexander are now competing for the final roster spot. Alexander has shown just about nothing positive in the preseason, so there must be something that he’s doing right in practice or it doesn’t make much sense that he would still be around. As Michael said about his performance in the most recent game:

Joe Alexander must have other plans for winter because he does not look like he wants to be on an NBA roster this year. If last night did not seal his fate, then perhaps tonight did. He entered the game in the second quarter and immediately turned the ball over two times and picked up two fouls. After that brief 5-minute stint, Monty never put him back in the game.

So take this battle for the last bench seat for what it is. It’s unlikely that either player will see more than inconsequential minutes.

Updated Depth Chart

pg- Paul, Green, Jarrels

sg- Belinelli, Thornton, Strawberry

sf- Ariza, Peja, Pondexter, *Joe Alexander

pf- West, Smith, Pops, *Joe Alexander

c- Okafor, Gray, Mbenga

14 responses to “Hornets Waive Shakur, Watkins”

  1. Any chance of neither of those guys making the team? If they can stay on deals that aren’t guaranteed, then there is no reason to axe them, but we may want the flexibility to take players in a trade without requiring that the partners take on more than required by the marketplace.

    We could also send Pops back into the void and proceed with 13, as his deal is not guaranteed.

    Also, do you have reason, other than what we’ve seen as summed by Mr. McNamara, to believe that Pops is safer than Alexander? Or are you going off of yours, his, our assessment of the on-court performance?

    • Definitely a chance that neither do.

      I figure it’s down to them based on their contract status, the roles they have had while in the game, how they have performed, and what gets said by the coaches and media. Seems like Monty was giving Alexander a chance to prove something and he just hasn’t delivered at all during games.

      Pops can rebound, which should be enough to earn him a spot.

  2. at 6’8″ 220 lbs., alexander cannot guard much bigger players very well in the post…as a matter of fact, defense and rebounding – the hallmarks of the PF position – are his 2 biggest deficiencies

    alexander is an offensive player and should be at the 3…i watched him a lot in the big east where he was a dominant player…he has an excellent mid-range jumper, can drive left or right, and can even shoot the 3 (35% as a rookie)…we know he can run and jump

    admittedly, alexander has looked bad in the pre-season games…he looks psyched-out playing the 4, but is still one of the only players on the roster who can get his own shot and is the best run/jump athlete on the team…i figure they’ll keep him around and see if he can get his head screwed on, play like he’s serious, and learn a little team defense – but he should be playing guys roughly his own size (would anyone play ariza [6’8″ 220] at PF?)

  3. I should add that we are starting come within a cheap contract of the tax line. While going $1 over only costs $1 extra, it is a point to take note of. Adding a 1y player increases our flexibility in terms of offering packages of talent on expiring deals, but it does reduce our flexibility to take on more players than we would ship out.

    Mbenga is another $1m expiring and Jarrell is $0.75m.

    We now have about $24m expiring this year and about $8 of it tied up in player options on D West and A Gray which could `expire’. Only Chris, Emeka, Quincy, and Ariza don’t need something to happen to play here next year.

    $45.5m for Paul, West, Ariza, Okafor, Pondexter, Gray, with the last 2 occupying under $2.3m. If Ariza, West and Okafor all give a about three quarters of a `West’ (my new unit of production for people not named Paul, based on a typical West performance for the past few years), I’m ok with that salary. Thoughts?

  4. Joe Alexander is young, athletic and has alot of potential/upside. He’s just being inconsitent. He’s got to learn how to be effective or do other things when you’re having a bad night. He’s capable of being a nice young player for New Orleans but it doesn’t seem like he’ll stick. I really like Pops Mensah-Bonsu. Pops is a freak athlete, who will bring an enormous amount of energy, hustle and effort on the court. He’s not a great offensive player, but he’s going to rebound, rebound, block shots and play great defense. He’s going to try to block/contest every shot and grab every rebound. He scores mostly off of putbacks, off rebounds, hustle, alley-oops and pick and roll situations. It seems he’ll make it and will back up David West and Emeka. I also like DJ Strawberry to backup CP3 and Curtis. He’s very athletic and is a defensive specialist. He’s a pretty good rebounder and has good strength and athleticism to get to the basket. He’s a solid ball handler and passer as well. Curtis Jerrells is like a smaller Jerryd Bayless type of player. He’s a nice backup too. DJ Mbenga is a serviceable big man who can block shots, run the floor and defend the paint. He’ll be a nice backup to Emeka or Aaron. I wish Joe Alexander well. I don’t think he’ll stick with the Hornets. I think he should stay in the D-League or go overseas, where he can get some playing time and develop his game. I think it’ll help him. He’s a former lottery pick, so he does have talent and upside. I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets picked up by another NBA squad. I think he could be a good fit with Denver, Golden State, or Utah.

    • perhaps, but i’m thinking they’ll keep him on the roster because he does have talent and i think demps likes him…right after the team scrimmage, he looked like the back-up to david west – but it’s been downhill from there for him for sure…[he never should have tried to lay the ball up over dwight howard – 3 times!!!] 🙂

  5. If I had my choice I’d keep DJ Strawberry, and get rid of Joe Alexander!

    Every NBA team should have atleast:

    3-PGs: Paul, Green, Jerrells
    3-SGs: Belinelli, Thornton, Strawberry
    3-SFs: Ariza, Stojakovic, Pondexter
    6-BIGS: Okafor, West, Smith, Mensah-Bonsu, Gray, Mbenga

    …to make up a 15-man NBA Roster. Joe Alexander is the odd man out! Everyone else has prived something in preseason games or have been signed
    -last-minute’- for a need.


  6. Since joining the Hornets, Jason Smith has made the transition from Center to Power Forward, and for a lack of a better player it has worked out well. On the other hand, Joe Alexander is too slight to be Power Forward, and would not stand a chance against the opposition. Given this, Monty could keep Joe at small forward, Jason at power forward, and Pops who’s 6-9 and 235 lbs could play power forward and center. So by keeping Joe at small forward, and making a commodity out of Pops, Monty could then trim the fat and cut Aaron Gray.

    pg- Paul, Green, Jarrels

    sg- Belinelli, Thornton, Strawberry

    sf- Ariza, Peja, Pondexter, Joe Alexander

    pf- West, Smith, Mensah-Bonsu

    c- Okafor, Mbenga, Mensah-Bonsu

  7. The only guys we can outright dump are Strawberry, Alexander, Mbenga, and Pops.

    Anything else would have to involve another team, even if it is a salary dump. While that may happen, if the guys we want to dump are that bad, why would anyone take them on without adding a piece, at least this early on. Perhaps there has been some injury that has created a need? Any data on this?

    We will have at least 12 players unless another team gets involved due to the number of guaranteed contracts we hold . We will have a maximum of 15 players due to NBA rules. Therefore, without the involvement of another team, we will retain the services of at most 3 of Strawberry (combo guard), Pops (power forward, center?), Joe Alexander (power forward, small forward), and Mbenga (center). Do we need 12 due to the inactive rules?

    Mbenga plays one of the positions of greatest need with potentially smallest supply, so he’s least likely to get sacked. He also has the rare attribute of being 7’0 tall. Gray would have to reallyreallyreally out perform him, outright Connor McCloud (of the clan McCloud) him, for him to not make roster due to on-court issues.

    Strawberry’s main threat to the roster is the fact that we are pretty stacked at guard with Chris, Marco, Marcus, Willie, and now Curtis. A 6th guard may be useful, especially if one goes buhbye in a trade. Though he can play 2 positions, we are pretty well covered at at least 1 since we have 5 guards if the take the standard depth chart approach here.

    The opposite is true for Pops as he can play two positions of some need, however well, so I see that as his edge to make the team (I still would like to hear other opinions on the matter). Now, center is pretty well covered from a guaranteed contract point of view, but Pops could play a small center with his energy if we ever do the 3 guard thing. Still, I’m really just going to count him as a player at power forward since he’s nothing to me if he can’t do that.

    Strawberry plays two positions (as do they all) that are well-covered, but he could be kept as insurance since we have ALL of our non-Paul guards have expiring contacts, ignoring that Quincy and Ariza can play the 2; that’s not where they are slotted for primary usage as far as I can tell.

    Mbenga will be an expiring, cheap 7-footer.

    Pops plays two positions of need, and the one he’s best suited for is the one where we have had the biggest void in the past.

    Joe has essentially showed mental lapses. If Peja has the physical tools to play power forward, then Alexander does even if he gives up 2 inches to Peja. The difference is brains. Anyone will get manhandled if they aren’t positioned right, in the right stance. He chose to play soft when laying those balls in with Dwight looming somewhere in the area code. Getting mauled by Dwight doesn’t make you a casualty; not even putting up a fight does. I don’t know if he doesn’t know if he’s not in a game or what, but that aloof air he has about him has likely sealed his fate here. Additionally, he’s playing the position where we have the most depth, shooting forward. Yeah, I just typed that. Let me type it again. Additionally, he’s playing the position where we have the most depth, shooting forward. Yeah, I just typed that.

    That’s how I see it, with all these guys treading water, Joe having gone under twice. I wouldn’t break my heart to see us going forward with 13 guys.

    • absolutely alexander’s biggest problem is between his ears…he lacks bball smarts due to being a late bloomer and still being really inexperienced…after the league’s best shot-blocker swatted away his first lay-up, he should have gotten the message, but he tried it two more times w/ the same result

      another example from the same game…in the second half, although the game was out of reach, joe had the ball on the left side and instead of driving the ball and making something happen, he just thought about it for a second and then fired up a 2 point jumper…it was stupid and he immediately got pulled

      he’s got ability and athleicism, though, and the hornets need both…2 weeks ago he looked like a lock for the top 12…i still think he’ll make the 15 man squad

      • My initial thought was that Pops had a better shot. I overlooked Alexander partially through a decision to say more about fewer people but partially due to him not really standing out to me. Pops looked like he had some nice upside. My confidence that he’d make the team has cooled from my initial enthusiasm, but I still think he stands a better shot the Alexander. Pops just seems more into it and plays more naturally. He is by no means a lock in my mind, but he seems more likely than Alexander.

        It may just be that Alexander has his good karate exactly where we already have better karate, at the 3, which is weird. He was billed initially as a PF, however, so I’m guessing this idea that he can be a good SF has an element of charitable speculation to it.

        I’ve liked Alexander’s good point and would not be upset if they found a way to keep a hook in him, give him some non-guaranteed deal, etc., but I pretty sure such things are not realities in the regular season.

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