2011 NBA Offseason: New Orleans Hornets

Written by Paul Banks of the Washington Times, David Kay and Peter Christian of the The Sports Bank. Send Paul an e-mail here: paulb05 AT hotmail DOT com.
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New Orleans Hornets (Last Year: 46-36)

Live 2011 NBA Draft Grades:

2011 NBA Draft Team Grade:

Money means more than a player who can possibly make the roster. I guess that was the Hornets’ thought process. Boring draft for them. (Team Grade: Don’t Get It)

45. Josh Harrellson, C, Kentucky (TRADED TO NEW YORK)
The Hornets are a franchise that could use money, so selling the pick makes sense, I guess. They could also use depth at just about every position so why not take a gamble on a Josh Selby or Travis Leslie, and hope either can make the roster? (Pick Grade: Don’t Get It)

*** 2011 NBA Offseason Needs and Free Agents listed below this comment box. ***

2010-11 Season Summary:
Chris Paul gets healthy and the Hornets return to the postseason. Is it really that simple? Pretty much. A year ago, Paul missed 37 games due to injury and New Orleans missed the playoffs. This season, Paul was healthy and was back to lead the charge into the playoffs.

Their trip to the postseason 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 upgrade 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 lineup for the injured West late in the season.

2011-12 Projected Depth Chart:

C: Emeka Okafor


SF: Trevor Ariza/Quincy Pondexter

SG: ^Marco Belinelli

PG: Chris Paul/Jarrett Jack

NBA Free Agents:

^SG-Marco Belinelli (RFA)

PF-Jason Smith (UFA)

PF-Carl Landry (UFA)

SG-Willie Green (UFA)

PG-Marcus Banks (UFA)

SF-Patrick Ewing Jr. (UFA)

C-D.J. Mbenga (UFA)

Offseason Transactions:

Hornets trade 45th pick (Josh Harrellson) to Knicks for cash considerations

PF David West opts out of final year of contract, becomes free agent

C Aaron Gray opts out of final year of contract, becomes free agent

C David Andersen signs with Italian team Montepaschi Siena

Hornets do not extend qualifying offer to PF Jason Smith, making him unrestricted free agent

2010-11 Team Salary: Approximately $42.1 million

NBA Offseason Needs:

1. Shop Chris Paul: 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? Paul will rather di the trendy thing in the NBA and join 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, much like what the Nuggets did with Carmelo Anthony 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 Chris Paul 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 Chris Paul, but depth is still needed.

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