Like we are currently seeing in the NFL, the 2011 NBA off-season is up in the air with a lockout looming. Free agency could be delayed and completely restructured depending on the new agreement reached by the owners and players. Still, The Sports Bank continues to break down all thirty NBA teams to see what areas they need to address in the off-season. The dilemma with the New Orleans Hornets this off-season; what to do with Chris Paul.
By: David Kay
New Orleans Hornets (46-36 last season)
’10-’11 Season in Review:
Chris Paul gets healthy and the Hornets return to the post-season. Is it really that simple? Pretty much. A year ago, CP3 missed 37 games due to injury and New Orleans missed the playoffs. This season, Paul is healthy and back to lead the charge into the playoffs.
Their trip to the post-season did not last long though as the Hornets lost their opening round battle with the Lakers in six games. A big reason for their first round boot was due to the absence of leading scorer, David West who suffered a torn ACL late in the season and left New Orleans short-handed.
Outside of that there was nothing to really get too excited about with this team. Emeka Okafor was his typical solid, but unspectacular self while newly acquired Trevor Ariza brought a slight up-grade to the small forward position. Marco Belinelli posted the best numbers of his career which really is not saying all that much.
First year general manager Dell Demps was also active during the season, making a couple of questionable deals. He dealt the team’s 2011 first round pick to Portland for Jerryd Bayless but then turned around and dealt Bayless and Peja Stojakovic’s expiring contract to Toronto for Jarrett Jack, David Andersen, and Marcus Banks which really did not help the team that much. Acquiring Carl Landry from Sacramento for Marcus Thornton proved to be a blessing in disguise as Landry was able to step into the starting line-up for the injured West late in the season.
2011-12 Projected Depth Chart:
C: Emeka Okafor/*Aaron Gray/$David Andersen
PF: #David West/+Jason Smith
SF: Trevor Ariza/Quincy Pondexter
SG: ^Marco Belinelli
PG: Chris Paul/Jarrett Jack
#PF-David West (PO)
*C-Aaron Gray (PO)
$C-David Andersen (TO)
^SG-Marco Belinelli (RFA)
+PF-Jason Smith (RFA)
PF-Carl Landry (UFA)
SG-Willie Green (UFA)
PG-Marcus Banks (UFA)
SF-Patrick Ewing Jr. (UFA)
C-D.J. Mbenga (UFA)
’11-’12 Team Salary: Approximately $50.7 million
1. Trade CP3:
Let’s be honest, as much as Chris Paul may love New Orleans, why would he re-sign a long-term deal with a team that is not going to win a championship anytime soon rather than doing the trendy thing in the NBA and joining a super power with someone (Dwight Howard?) in a major market. The Hornets are in a situation where they either keep him and hope he inks an extension, keep him and risk losing him next summer while getting nothing in return, or do what I think they should: jump the gun and get some quality value for him prior to the trade deadline ala what the Nuggets did with ‘Melo this past February.
2. What to do with West?:
David West’s injury did two things: severely damaged his potential value as a free agent this summer and also likely cost him a good chunk of the beginning of next season. If I am West, I am picking up the player option on the final year of my deal. If I am the Hornets, I am waiting to offer him an extension until I see how the knee heels. However, I cannot imagine West signing an extension with New Orleans unless he knows for sure CP3 will be back. Whatever ends up happening with West, the Hornets will need to add some depth at power forward since Carl Landry is a free agent and Jason Smith is a restricted free agent.
3. Shooting Guard:
Even though Marco Belinelli had a career year this past season, he is a restricted free agent and I am not sure the starting shooting guard of the future in New Orleans. Even if he does return to the Hornets, the team will need some depth at the two since they traded away Marcus Thornton and Willie Green is an unrestricted free agent. Jarrett Jack is capable of playing off guard alongside CP3, but depth is still needed.
OTHER NBA TEAM NEEDS PAGES:
GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS
LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS
NEW JERSEY NETS
NEW YORK KNICKS
CHECK OUT MY NBA FREE AGENT POINT GUARD RANKINGS
CHECK OUT MY NBA FREE AGENT SHOOTING GUARD RANKINGS
CHECK OUT MY NBA FREE AGENT SMALL FORWARD RANKINGS
CHECK OUT MY NBA FREE AGENT POWER FORWARD RANKINGS
CHECK OUT MY NBA FREE AGENT CENTER RANKINGS
CHECK OUT THE SPORTS BANK’S 2011 NBA MOCK DRAFT
David Kay is a senior feature NBA Draft, NBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank. He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities.
You can follow him on Twitter at DavidKay_TSB.