ESPN is reporting that the Hornets have acquired 25 year old SF Trevor Ariza from the Houston Rockets in a 4-team deal. In the deal the Hornets received Ariza, the Indiana Pacers received from the Hornets SF James Posey and a young talented PG in Darren Collison, the New Jersey Nets get F/C Troy Murphy from the Pacers, and the Rockets get former Nets SG Courtney Lee. And that is not all the Hornets front office did today. GM Dell Demps and company also traded athletic SF Julian Wright or Juju as Hornets fans know him as, to the Toronto Raptors for SG Marco Belinelli.
From the Hornets perspective of these deals they received an athletic wingman who knows how to play defense, both on and off the ball, and can score 15ppg as a starter in Ariza. That is something New Orleans have not had in a long long time, since Jamal Mashburn way back in 2003. This is an immediate upgrade over Peja, Posey, or rookie Quincy Pondexter. He also costs slightly less than Posey, who has 2 years left on his awful contract. While Ariza does have two more years after Posey’s contract would be up, he will be younger than Posey and entering the prime of his career. For the record Ariza averaged 14.9ppg, 5.6rpg, and 3.8apg in 72 games last season.
Secondly, the Hornets lose what is one of the worst contracts in the NBA in James Posey. This by itself is pure awesomeness. The downside to this trade is the Hornets lose a young talented player in Collison, who played very well as a starter last season in the absence of Chris Paul. However, it should be noted that Collison played worse as a bench player than as a starter last season. Collison averaged 18.8 ppg, 9.1 apg, and shot 48.5% from the field (42.9% from 3) in 37 games as a starter averaging 40 minutes a game. While as a bench player, he averaged 15.9 minutes a game, 6.4 ppg, 2.5 apg, and shot 45.5% from the field (32.3% from 3) in 39 games. Now I understand those are not adjusted but they also show that Collison was a more consistent player as a starter and as long as CP3 is healthy, Collison would have been a backup on the Hornets.
With that being said, the Hornets now have a hole in the backup PG role. Who is left on the free agency market? The best options are Earl Watson, Javarris Crittenton, Travis Diener, and Jamaal Tinsley. None of them really stick out, but I would say Watson is the best. And I believe in 15 minutes a game Watson can give the Hornets at least 6 ppg and 2.5 apg as Collison did off the bench last season. Watson may not be a better player or starter as Collison is or will be, but he may be as of right now just as good of a backup PG.
The Hornets also traded a fan favorite Julian Wright, who also has underperformed in his 3 seasons with the Hornets. And with the addition of Ariza there is no more space at the SF position for the Hornets. Wright is also slightly more expensive than Belinelli. Belinelli is nothing special, but he can shoot (38.8% from 3 for his career). And that is something the Hornets need with Paul at point: a player who can knock down the open three. I would say this is a positive trade for the Hornets.
As for the Ariza trade, I would give it a “B”. It is positive and helps us in the future by shedding Posey’s contract and getting a better version of him in Ariza. However we do lose arguably our third best player on the team in Collison. Problem is he would not be playing much even if we did have him. Until we see who the Hornets pick up as a backup PG this trade is graded as incomplete.
So what is next for the Hornets? Get a backup PG and C (someone better than Aaron Gray, who I do like but not as my primary backup center). And if nothing else these trades are positive due to the fact that the front office is saying to Chris Paul that we are trying to get better for you because you are the only PG on our team at this point thus these trades we made are for you and for your future with the Hornets.
Here is a projected depth chart for the Hornets as the roster stands now:
PG: Cp3/ ???
PF:West/Songalia(can we please get rid of this guy?)/Brackins
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Written by Andrew Tressler