Before Making Next Move, Hornets Must Determine Who They Are Chasing

Published: November 11, 2010

There is a tidal wave coming to the Western Conference, and with it there will be a shift in the balance of power. That wave is moving slowly, but make no mistake, someday it will be here; and that day might be sooner than later. The wave brings with it bright new stars in Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, Tyreke Evens, Russell Westbrook, and others poised to replace living legends like Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, and Dirk Nowitzki at the top of the standings. This wave might not get here for another two or three years, but it will arrive, and that is why the Hornets must figure out who it is that they are chasing- the old guard or the up and comers.

Now that the Hornets are the feel good story of the day again, ESPN and other sites are pumping them up (one can assume that this will last until it is more profitable to tear them down). A recent story claims that the Hornets are still working the phones, looking for that final piece to the puzzle. Names like Kevin Martin, Rip Hamilton, Gerald Wallace, and Andre Iguodala have been throw around, with the assumption being that those teams will take Peja’s expiring and perhaps one of our two guards in return.

There is another route the Hornets can take, however. This route would address the Hornets most glaring immediate need- backup center. Instead of a two guard, the Hornets could look to acquire a Samuel Dalembert, Andries Biendris, or Nazr Mohammad with Peja’s expiring. Some would say that if the Hornets are serious about competing with the Lakers and their three talented 7 footers, that adding size is a necessity.

Long term, however, adding a premium shooting guard might be what is best for this team. Marco Belinelli, Willie Green, and Marcus Thornton will all be free agents this summer and while they are all quality player, none of them have the resumes of the players mentioned as trade possibilities. While trading for a backup big might prove to be short sighted in the long run, adding an All-Star caliber two guard can give the Hornets an imposing starting five for the foreseeable future.

Because of the Lakers size, however, it is unlikely that adding a Hamilton or an Iguodala will get the Hornets over the hump this year or perhaps even next year. But eventually age will catch up to Kobe Bryant, Lamar Odom, and Derek Fisher, meaning that LA won’t necessarily be the team to go through in the Western Conference. Long term, the team that the Hornets will have to measure up with will likely be the Oklahoma City Thunder, a team that has all of its star power on the wings. They are a team that is built to be contenders for the remainder of this decade, as all of their key pieces are under the age of 25.

Adding a Dalembert or Mohammad this season, just to let them go in the offseason does little to help the Hornets in the long run. Similarly, adding players like Rip Hamilton or Stephan Jackson would shrink the Hornets window considerably, considering that both players have only two quality seasons in them before they remind us all of Posey, Peja, and/or Mo Pete.

The Hornets find themselves at a crossroads of sorts, and they must choose a path before the February trade deadline. If they believe that LA can be had this year, then they can worry about the future later and make the moves necessary to dethrone the Champs. Or they can look beyond this season to the rest of the decade and take the route that is best for the organization long term.

Realistically, history shows us that a team has to go through a couple of seasons of playoff adversity before they emerge champions. That lesson would advocate that the Hornets take the long-term approach; add an Iggy or Kevin Martin and take your lumps this year and possibly next before finally dethroning LA. But if we are talking about being realistic, it was not realistic to think this Hornets team would start 7-0. There is something special about this team, and as we all saw after the 07-08 season, tomorrow is never guaranteed. Sometimes when you have a shot, you’ve gotta take it. Future be damned.


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