It’s not Christmas…and I’m certainly not a ghost…but I liked the title of this blog. Personally I hope this does NOT happen…but this is my doomsday look into the Hornets future.
February 22nd, 2010
New Orleans-The biggest moves made at this year’s NBA trade deadline were made by the New Orleans Hornets who are currently in 10th place in the Western Conference (4 1/2 games out of the final playoff spot behind the 8th place Golden State Warriors).
Less than two years ago the Hornets were considered one of the up and coming teams in the NBA but are now in full rebuild mode.
The franchises failure to develop young players coupled with injury-plagued veterans and bad contracts led to the Hornets struggles this season and means the Hornets are now back to square one.
In a frenzy of moves aimed at clearing salary the Hornets traded former All-Stars David West and Peja Stojakovic along with Tyson Chandler, Morris Peterson, Julian Wright and Hilton Armstrong. The six players were sent to three different teams jockeying for playoff positioning.
Stojakovic and Armstrong are headed to the Chicago Bulls for Brad Miller and Tim Thomas. Both Miller and Thomas have expiring contracts. Peja will hopefully fill the scoring void the Bulls have been dealing with since losing Ben Gordon to free agency last summer.
New Jersey native David West returns to the Garden State to help bolster a Nets front court led by Brooke Lopez. Fresh off his 3rd All-Star appearance West was traded along with James Posey and Julian Wright to New Jersey for Tony Battie, Bobby Simmons, Yi Jianlian and a 2010 1st round draft pick. Both Battie and Simmons have expiring contracts. Led by the back court of Devin Harris and Courtney Lee the Nets are surprisingly in 3rd place in the Eastern Conference and made no secret of their intentions to trade for a player of West’s caliber. Jianlian could still emerge as a top player in the league and exposes the Hornets to new fans in China.
In a deal that seems like it’s been a year in the making Tyson Chandler is headed to the up-and-coming Oklahoma City Thunder. Led by MVP candidate Kevin Durrant the Thunder are currently in 4th place in the Western Conference and are the darlings of the NBA this season. OKC is sending the Hornets the expiring contract of Chuckey Atkins plus a 2010 1st round draft pick and a 2012 2nd round selection for Chandler. The emergence of Shaun Livingston made Atkins expendable. Chandler gives the Thunder their one missing ingrident…interior defense.
By trading away all their top veterans the Hornets are now truly an army of one: Chris Paul.
Paul is the face of the franchise, a three time All-Star and the best point guard in the NBA…and he’s now all alone without a supporting cast or a head coach.
Last November, after slumping to a 10-10 start coach Byron Scott was fired.
Assistant coach Paul Pressey has been acting as the interim head coach but he is not expected to land the job full-time.
It’s believed the Hornets will pursue New Orleanian Avery Johnson to coach the team this offseason but Johnson will command a 4-year contract valued at anywhere between $16-20 million dollars.
Hornets General Manager Jeff Bower is also on the hot seat due to the teams failures this season and he could be replaced when the season ends. Although it is worth noting that with the trades made today Bower just rid the team of tens of millions of dollars in bad contracts.
By making the trades they did today the Hornets have cleared $41 million dollars worth of salaries off their books for next season. The team will also save another $10 million when the contracts of free-agents-to-be Antonio Daniels and Rasual Butler expire July 1st. By making the moves they did the Hornets will not have to pay the NBA’s luxury tax penalty.
With some of the cash they’re getting back from expiring contracts the Hornets will no doubt look to add a big name free agent this summer. Look for the Hornets to offer max-money contracts to players like Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade. The trades also give the Hornets three first round draft picks in the NBA draft this June (west bank resident Greg Monroe who prepped at Helen Cox High School and is playing his college ball at Georgetown is a player the Hornets reportedly could target…as is 19 year old Lithuanian star Donatas Motiejunas).
The Hornets young core now consists of Chris Paul, 2 time NBA rookie of the month Marcus Thornton and Yi Jianlian.
But the big question now for the Hornets is: Can the franchise rebuild fast enough to keep Chris Paul happy? Paul is signed with the Hornets through 2012. Here’s hoping the moves made this offseason will keep Paul happy and bring the team back to the playoffs soon.
Let’s also hope Paul does not get too frustrated with the rebuilding process and demand a trade!