Rumors of this deal have been flying around all week, and it looks like they've now come to fruition. The Hornets have traded swingman Quincy Pondexter to the Memphis Grizzlies for point guard Greivis Vasquez.
A quick analysis of the straight swap:
In: Greivis Vasquez, age 24, 6'6", 200, PG
Out: Quincy Pondexter, age 23, 6'6", 225, SF
Before starting, let's briefly address Pondexter's preseason game on Wednesday, where he was extremely active on the glass and, according to most accounts, looked like an improved player. It's preseason. Yes, players improve. Players improve all the time. But Pondexter was an old rookie, and it's unlikely he's suddenly morphed into a rebounding ace. It's understandable that in the face of the team's repeated past failures (J.R. Smith, Brandon Bass, Marcus Thornton) to retain young talent, the loss of Pondexter could sting a little.
Pondexter, though, has a ways to go in his development to stick around even as a rotation guy in the NBA long term. He wasn't quick enough to get past NBA quality defenders regularly, nor was he strong enough to overpower smaller matchups. He became more and more of a spot up option as the season progressed, and while his midrange game is decent enough (45%), it came in a very limited sample size.
Vasquez comes to New Orleans with very similar issues; in many ways, he's the point guard version of Pondexter. He was also old for a rookie (he's more than a year older than Quincy), he struggled with turnovers, and his floor percentages were up and down. Like Pondexter, he flashed his potential often enough. But Pondexter did it in a preseason game while Vasquez did it in the NBA playoffs.
On almost 50 offensive possessions, Vasquez produced 1.17 points per possession in the postseason (or a very effective ORtg of 117). Contrast that with Pondexter's ORtg of 102 during the year (107.3 was league average for the season). And Vasquez's standout playoffs performance came as part of a much improved second half of the year. After shooting 37% overall and 25% from three before the All-Star break, he flipped the script and shot 53% overall and 42% after the break. As Chris Herrington of the Memphis Flyer notes for this year's Basketball Prospectus, Vasquez became more comfortable with the NBA game through the year.
There's a definite upward trend here, something I wouldn't necessarily describe to be a part of Pondexter's year.
Positionally, the deal makes a lot of sense of course. The Hornets are currently starting a fringe starter/backup at the point, and backing him up with a third or fourth string option from the DLeague. Vasquez will at least be able to run the offense adequately off the bench.
Basically, Dell Demps moved a longshot prospect for another longshot prospect that's arguably the better player and definitely the better fit.
Welcome to New Orleans, Greivis, and best of luck in Memphis, Quincy. We'll still be rooting for you.