Posts Tagged ‘eric gordon signs with hornets’

PG

SG

SF

PF

C

Jarrett Jack Eric Gordon Al-Farouq Aminu Anthony Davis Gustavo Ayon
Greivis Vasquez Austin Rivers Jason Smith Jason Smith
Xavier Henry

2012-2013 Salary: $34,213,991

Expected Salary Cap Space: Approximately $24 Million

RFAs: Eric Gordon

UFAs: Chris Kaman, Carl Landry, Marco Belinelli

Strengths: The youth movement is in full swing in New Orleans. With Anthony Davis firmly slotted into the power forward position for the next decade, Austin Rivers on board as the confident, outspoken sidekick, and  possession of right of acceptance/refusal on any deal RFA Eric Gordon might sign elsewhere, New Orleans has three of the more attractive young building blocks in the NBA. Further, while a significant portion of the cap room listed above is like to go to Gordon, New Orleans is still in position to make a significant signing or two if it so chooses.

In Rivers and Gordon New Orleans undoubtedly has the shooting guard/high volume scoring guard position locked down. Both are capable of lighting it up from behind the arc (Gordon has a 37% career 3P%, Rivers had approx. 37% 3P% in his single season at Duke), and despite being slightly undersized, both have the attitude and toughness necessary to take the ball to the rim.

New Orleans, led by Davis, should also have some success protecting the rim. Davis’ shot blocking and defensive abilities have been widely hailed, and with good reason. He averaged 4.7 bpg in his sole season in Lexington. Beyond Davis, it is likely Jason Smith will get significant minutes down low at the center position. Smith, a natural power forward, has expressed willingness to make the move if not total confidence in his ability to do so.

Jarrett Jack and Grevis Vasquez should provide some veteran stability at the point guard position. While by no means outstanding, Jack and Vasquez were probably a bit more effective than most would have expected in 2011-2012. Jack averaged 15.6 ppg and 6.3 apg with a 17.97 PER while Vasquez averaged 8.9 ppg and 5.4 apg with a 14.27 PER.

Needs: Beyond Rivers, Davis, and-if re-signed-Gordon there isn’t a whole lot of untouchable, game-changing talent on New Orleans’ roster. They basically completely lack a natural center of note (assuming they, as expected, do not re-sign Kaman) or a starter-level athletic small forward. There are a few potentially exciting, younger pieces on the bench by way of Gustavo Ayon and Al-Farouq Aminu, but it should probably still be classified as “thin”.

Potential Free Agent Targets:

  • Nicolas Batum (RFA, POR, SF): Batum already has an offer sheet for approx. 4 yrs/$50 million from the Minnesota Timberwolves. Something similar from New Orleans could win him away from the T-Wolves. Its also entirely possible that Portland matches. It also may not be in New Orleans’ best interest to spend all of its newly acquired cap room in one place. Batum as a young, athletic small forward certainly meets a need and fits into the youth movement in New Orleans. But as anyone’s cool uncle will tell them, just because you have money doesn’t mean you should spend it. While Batum would certainly fit well in New Orleans there are likely others who might command big money in 2013 or 2014 that fit better or present more value. Two that come to mind are 2013 RFA’s Nikola Pecovic and Tiago Splitter, whose teams may not feel comfortable matching deals at dollars even less than what Batum is commanding.
  • Danny Green (RFA, SAS, SF): The upside to an offer to Green is that in 2011-2012 he did some of what Batum did and would likely cost much less than Batum to sign. Further, San Antonio may feel that Green was, to some extent, a product of their system and let him walk if the offer rises anywhere above a few million a year. The downside to an offer to Green is that, well, he may be a product of San Antonio’s system and could be incapable of repeating his success elsewhere. Green did shoot 43.6% from behind the arc in 2011-2012, and teamed with Gordon and Rivers New Orleans might start really raining 3’s on opponents. Still, nothing too long and nothing too large in the offer to Green or else it’s not worth it. 
  • Hamed Haddadi (UFA, MEM, C): Haddadi is likely nothing more than a backup center. However, he may be capable of being productive with more minutes than he currently gets in Memphis. (16.31 PER in 2012) On a short, low cost deal he could potentially bolster New Orleans’ rotation down low, and ultimately become a capable back up for whoever is tapped as the long term solution at center.
  • Jeff Green (UFA, BOS, SF): The potential drawbacks to a Green deal have already been covered in the Washington Wizards post. A deal similar to the one suggested in that post would also make sense in New Orleans. Green has also been through the talented youth movement scenario before in Oklahoma City and he may not be willing to be a part of it again. On the other hand, if no one else is offering him the money or years that New Orleans does he might be game. Still, like Green, New Orleans should keep things sane if offering.

Special Note: The key to New Orleans’ off-season plans should not be to build the entirety of its team of the future here and now. There are plenty of intriguing free agents coming down the pike in 2013 and 2014 (Tiago Splitter at center next to Davis at power forward is especially exciting), and many of the available free agents this offseason are asking and receiving more than they are worth. (Omer Asik everyone!) New Orleans’ top priority should be re-signing Gordon. He is a rare talent and a developing star in the league. New Orleans needs to stay calm and carefully let the youth movement unfold.

Potential Trades:

  • All of the truly tradable assets on New Orleans should be kept. The Okafor/Ariza deal was a serious coup by General Manager Dell Demps, but beyond Davis, Rivers, and Gordon there isn’t much left on New Orleans’ roster that could bring you back anything noteworthy in return. If Rivers proves capable of the majority of the point guard duties as the season unfolds then Jack could become an attractive playoff team in need of a backup point guard. Depending on Derrick Rose’s status and Marquis Teague’s development New Orleans could initiate talks with Chicago down the road.  (A. MacMullan)