Not too many actual Hornets to discuss today, but plenty of potential ones. Let's get to it.
First in our minds and hearts and first on this list is Pitt's DeJuan Blair. Things weren't looking very good for us already, and the events of the last 24 hours may just have clinched a top 20 spot for him.
''He's an intriguing guy,'' Forman said. ''The one thing, if you study drafts over the last 15 to 20 years, rebounders rebound. That's a stat that does translate. So I think he's going to be a good player in the NBA.'' While both Henderson and the 6-8 Johnson are expected to be among the lottery picks, Mullens should be available at No. 16. And his 7-0, 260-pound frame and raw potential could prove tempting to the Bulls."
The bigger issue is that Chicago also has the 26th pick. At that point, they could take Omri Cisspi, rendering Mullens moot. And no mention of Tyler Hansbrough in that article either, another non-Blair option.
While Perrin says the Jazz are "a little concerned" about Blair's knees -- he tore both ACLs in high school -- team doctors examined him Monday afternoon. If they give the go-ahead, Blair will likely be on the list of players Utah will consider in the first round.
The Jazz are one of the few teams in this draft that can afford to draft solely for depth- i.e, best player available. That's definitely not the type of drafter the Hornets need right in front of them.
But while a bunch of teams are high on Blair, there's at least one team that's wary. The Morning Detail has the details:
Pardon the Milwaukee Bucks if they're a bit leery of drafting University of Pittsburgh forward/center DeJuan Blair.
Every time they watch Blair on tape, they might have flashbacks of the 1998 draft when they made one of the worst blunders in NBA history.
They drafted German forward Dirk Nowitzki at No. 9 and sent him to the Mavericks for the rights to Michigan forward/center Robert "Tractor" Traylor.
"We experienced Robert Traylor," [the Bucks director of player personnel] said. "He got in great shape and then after the first year, it was tough to keep weight off. (Blair's) got the great work ethic and that leads you to believe that he's serious about staying (in shape)."
It's an interesting comparison. I remember Tractor Traylor from his Hornets days and really have nothing but fondness for those memories. But I certainly wouldn't have drafted him. Whatever. If he does fall to 21, the Hornets will probably jump all over him, Tractor Traylor or not.
Just as with Blair, there are a number of teams looking hard at Ty Lawson in the top 20. Philadelphia is one such team, and ESPN's Chad Ford outlines why that's so:
"With Andre Miller hitting free agency this summer, look for the Sixers to address the point guard position. Lou Williams is nice but not really a lead guard. Maynor, Lawson and Teague all are in the mix here ... as are Williams, Henderson and Sam Young. Maynor would give Philly the total package as one of the most NBA-ready players in the draft. Lawson had the best season of any of the point guards and can really play in an up-tempo style. Teague also will get a look here, but he's more of a combo guard, and the Sixers have that in Williams."
I think most analyses would peg Maynor as a combo guard too. Would they opt for more NBA-readiness (not sure why that's definitively true) over the more viably "pure" guard? The unfortunate news here is that Philly isn't taking a closer look at Teague, who's pretty much the Hansbrough of the guards at this point (in terms of teams opting for him over who we want).
One team that is higher on Teague is Atlanta (#19 pick). I'm sure most of you saw the trade today- Speedy Claxton and Acie Law for Jamal Crawford. Mike Bibby is an unrestricted free agent, so it's probably a 99% lock that the ATL takes a point guard. Hoopsworld's Travis Heath has more:
"It seems unlikely that North Carolina guard Ty Lawson will be there at #19, but there's a very good chance that guys like Wake Forest's Jeff Teague and VCU's Eric Maynor will still be on the board. A number of player personnel people have said in recent days that Atlanta has developed an affinity for Teague."
Have they developed enough affinity to overlook Lawson if he's still there? Will their guilt over not drafting another Wake Forest point guard lead them to Teague? As with Blair, there are a lot of questions about Lawson dropping. He's got a treacherous path to navigate if he's making it down to us.
And how about the other options? Eric Maynor seems to be drawing the most interest from Philadelphia, but as noted above, they'll probably have various other options at their pick. Ditto for Atlanta. Marcus Thornton will be available at 21, pretty much no matter what. He doesn't fill a need for most teams (though I've read that a lot of the teams picking after 24 have him rated highly), and I don't believe his workouts were nearly as extensive as some of the other mid-draft players. If the Hornets have decided they want him, he's essentially theirs.
Free agency has been put on the backburner with all this draft stuff going on, but Hoopsworld also has a little note on our FA situation:
Sean Marks, Melvin Ely, and Ryan Bowen are all free agents this summer, and there's a reasonable chance they could be brought back if the price is, well, cheap. None of them had huge impacts on the team last season, but they do provide size and experience that were valuable in spot minutes.
The good news is the team is in pretty good shape on paper - they just need to get everyone healthy and together for a solid postseason run. As it stands they have a nice mix of All-Stars and solid role players, so there's every reason to believe the Hornets can be right back at the top of the West next season even though they don't have the ability to add a significant player through free agency. Health will be the key for the Hornets in 2009-2010.
Pretty good assessment, that.
Staying on the FA front, Marc Stein reports that Shaq to Cleveland may very well become real:
"The Suns and Cavs, sources say, were trying hard last week to recruit a third team to help facilitate the deal, presumably to help furnish Phoenix... No willing third team offering up a serviceable big man whom Phoenix likes has been located. Yet."
Obviously, the Hornets would have little incentive to include Tyson Chandler as a third wheel in a trade (as mere assistance), but another way to look at this is that Tyson hasn't and will not be offered around.
Finally, some news that will make most of you happy. The Hornets are most probably keeping their pick. From USA Today:
"It doesn't serve us any purpose to rule anything out, but what I will say is we are highly enthusiastic and will be making a pick in the first round because we feel we can help ourselves by doing that," Hornets general manager Jeff Bower said Tuesday. "The one thing that's a little different in this draft is the lack of a consensus for players in the middle of the first round, maybe from 14 or 15 through 30. This is a draft that has a variety of opinions on all of those players and I think it shows how small the gaps really are between all of those prospects. The probability is very high that we'll make the pick at 21."
Good to hear. Hope you'll join us for our open draft thread tomorrow. It's Blair or Bust!