Hornets Beat: Free Agents!

Published: December 1, 2011

In this edition of Hornets Beat we examine other teams free agents with a focus on who would be a good fit for New Orleans. If you’re hoping for talk about amnesty, you’re going to have to wait until next week. We won’t open that can of worms until we have a better idea of which players are actually going to be amnestied.

At Qwest field in Seattle, small and large beers were priced differently despite actually being the same size. In New Orleans that’s enough to riot.

Joining Ryan and me are Will Hibert (LSUHornet17) from At The Hive, James Graysonfrom Swarm and Sting, and Alejandro de los Rios from Gambit and Blog of New Orleans. Alejandro had the pleasure/misfortune of sitting next to me at most Hornets games last year, and honestly the most important thing we ever learned together is that the New Orleans Arena large beers are actually bigger than the small ones. Crazy, right? We tested beers all night long to make that determination. Scientific research needs to be thorough, after all.

1.) What is the Hornets number one need, assuming West returns?

Ryan Schwan – A versatile wing player.  The problem with the Hornets is they are plugging one-trick ponies into both wing spots.  Ariza can defend and do nothing else well.  Belinelli can shoot but does nothing else well.  Willie can . . . well, he’s good at something, right?  Anyways, the best teams have players who can at least do a few things well.  The Hornets need to find wing players who can defend AND rebound or who can shoot AND pass.  It’s all about gaining multiple edges everywhere.  My suggestion?  Thaddeus Young.

Will Hibert – A creative wing scorer. Belinelli works decently next to Ariza, because he stretches the floor, but the Hornets need someone to take scoring responsibility away from Trevor, especially in light of the passiveness we saw from Chris Paul at times last year. Someone who can score semi-efficiently on isolations and still hit a decent percentage from three would be a huge upgrade to the Hornet offense.

James Grayson – Has to be a scoring/shooting SG, has to be. This does sound eerily familiar to the guy who we drafted from LSU and loved the city of New Orleans, but it’s true, we need creativity on the wing. The reason is simple, Chris Paul (or whoever) needs help or needs the offensive load to be taken off their shoulders. That 2008 season CP had shooters on the wings, a post man and a defensive center. The Hornets (if they resign West) will have a post man and a lesser defensive center but an extra defender at SF. They need a shooting guard who can create his own shot and knock down anything Paul throws towards him.

Alejandro de los Rios – A viable and consistent shooting guard (or two or three) is absolutely crucial for the Hornets right now and it wouldn’t hurt if they made some sort of splash in the free agent market (Jason Richardson? Jamal Crawford?) to show CP3 that the team is conscious that he can’t carry the offensive load by himself and that they’re committed to building a contender around their point guard. Otherwise, I can see CP3 demanding a trade mid-season and a Carmelo-type fiasco taking place.

Joe Gerrity-
I might be the only one to go this way, but a third big man with some size to plug in against teams with bigger front lines. Landry is nice and all, but he, like the hornets, lacks the physical tools to bang with bigger, tougher big men

2.) Who is the dream free agent signing for the Hornets?

Ryan Schwan – If we are going for a dream signing, I’m taking Marc Gasol.  He’s young and talented and anytime you can grab a skilled big man you do it immediately.  Even if he doesn’t fit with Okafor, he’s an upgrade at center and Okafor can be moved for someone else.

Will Hibert – I’m going to go with Nene. He’s a little undersized and will be overpaid, but he’s an super-efficient scorer who I think could play next to Emeka at times. He’s quick, can score, and is still in his prime. Sign me up.

James Grayson
– Outside of David West it would have to be Nene. He’d be perfect for the Hornets and has shown that he can also overcome his injury problems, consistently playing for most games during the season.

Alejandro de los Rios
– Nene would be a huge score but I don’t know if they Hornets can afford/will be allowed to pick him up. Glen Davis would be a huge get because of his LSU background and that it would give the Hornets some bulk in the paint. Unfortunately for the Hornets though, this year’s free agent crop doesn’t have one “dream” player that grab the public’s attention and instantly take them to the next level.

Joe Gerrity- Marc Gasol would be a dream of sorts. Not the greatest dream in the world, but a pretty good one nonetheless.

3.) What mid-level players should the Hornets target?

Ryan Schwan – Earl Clark, a promising young power forward who shows a lot of potential, Arron Afflalo, a defender who can shoot, Thaddeus Young, a talented defensive forward who can slash and operate around the rim.  I’m hoping one of the last two won’t be priced out of the Hornets range.

Will Hibert- Arron Afflalo. He’s a good and willing defender who shot 42% from 3 last year and showed he can score inside the arc as well. Young guy who appears to be getting better. Probably the best SG on the market and he’s restricted, so competition will probably be stiff. Other than that, I like Thad Young, Big Baby Davis, and Joel Przybilla (though the last two might be too expensive).

James Grayson- J.R. Smith, if he can get his release from China, if not, Jason Richardson. He’s quite old but he’d be a shooter the Hornets need. Glen Davis, Joel Przybilla also are possibilities.

Alejandro de los Rios – See what I mean about this year’s free agents? Glen Davis and Jason Richardson are the types of players that the Hornets need but are either still incomplete (Davis) or old (Richardson). If he had been a free agent last year, Nene would be on this list but the fact that he would be a “dream” this year says a lot about the Hornets options. Surely there are some players we’ve never heard of that Demps and Williams are scouting and when the Hornets sign them everyone will be all “Huh? Who? What?”

Joe Gerrity- Jason Richardson could fill a few needs and provide some some scoring punch, but he might be a bit pricey. Aaron Affalo is enticing, provided we don’t get into a bidding war for his services.

4.) Should the Hornets save some money for players who will be playing in China until mid-March?

Ryan Schwan – No.  The Hornets need to build a team and develop chemistry and familiarity, not hope that one latecomer will push them over the top to contender.

Will Hibert – No. With a shortened training camp, practice time and developing chemistry will be at a premium. The Hornets can’t afford to wait until March to try to add a major contributor. Not to mention I’m not exactly enamored with any of the guys who made the jump to China.

James Grayson – Definitely don’t go out of your way to save money for them, but keep an eye on them for sure. I really think the Hornets could use J.R. Smith, so I’d be very keen to add him to the roster.

Alejandro de los Rios – Absolutely not. This country is already spending too much money on Chinese exports. All jokes aside, Williams is a coach who relies on his players buying into his system and developing a strong sense of chemistry. Saving money sends a message that the team isn’t don’t building and anyone could lose their position at any moment, which undermines what Williams is trying to do. Also, as much as J.R. Smith has killed the Hornets and New Orleans fans regret the team trading him, he’s not worth the trouble and there’s no guarantee that he’s even interested in returning to the Hornets.

Joe Gerrity- Not unless they completely roll the dice and opt not to trade Paul. There won’t be many better late season additions than the players currently balling in China, and if we’re risking it all on Paul we might as well save a few ducats for a potential late season free agent splash.

5.) End of the day: Who will we be welcoming to the HornetsNation?

Ryan Schwan – As newcomers I have a strong feeling we’ll see either Louis Amundson or Shannon Brown in a Hornets Jersey this year.  The Hornets made pushes for both last off-season, and neither are that likely to return to their current team.  They should also come moderately priced.

Will Hibert – Besides the trading of Marcus Thornton, I haven’t been able to predict many of Dell Demps’ moves, and that’s probably a good thing. I’m sure some of the names we’ve been discussing will come up, but I’m even more sure that someone is going to come out of left field and throw us all for a loop. I’ll go with Afflalo as a new face, with a side note that I’m really hoping we are welcoming back Mr. David West to close out his career as a Hornet and securing a spot for his jersey in the rafters of the New Orleans Arena.

James Grayson – I have to say that we’ll be welcoming back Willie Green, he just seems like a Monty Williams guy. A new face, I’d have say it depends on how things turn out. I think HornetsNation will be welcoming…Jason Richardson.

Alejandro de los Rios – I’m with Hibert in that we just don’t know what Demps and Williams are thinking. Both are extremely good talent evaluators and know how to get hard-working, effective players on the cheap. Williams’ coaching style also is says to me that the team will look for scrappers and workers over household names. That said, Jason Richardson would be a big pickup that would excite the fanbase and show CP3 this team actually wants to keep him and surround him with talent. But in reality, I think we’re going to barely know most of the players the Hornets sign and then be flabbergasted when this team somehow makes the playoffs with them. (This puts a lot of faith in Williams’ coaching ability, I know, but what can I say? I believe in him.)

Joe Gerrity- I hope, but do not think, that we will be welcoming either Jason Richardson or Aaron Affalo. If my one year of following Dell up close taught me anything, it’s that I’m not yet qualified to predict the Hornets future personnel moves with any confidence. Maybe after another year or so…


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