[Another crosspost from Mason from HoopDat. Today, he takes a look at the impact the moves of the rest of the league at the deadline will have on the Hornets.]
The past two days have made for the most active trade deadline that I’ve seen since I started seriously following the NBA, which accounts for about a decade. Tons of moves were made, and although only one of them directly involved the Hornets, many of these deals will indirectly affect them. Highlighting this group of transactions was the Carmelo Anthony trade to the Knicks, which everyone seems to think is a precursor to Chris Paul landing in New York. Allow me to elaborate on why there is an extremely small chance of this happening, as well as present each trade made over the past 72 hours (in approximate order of completion) and then explain its potential impact on the New Orleans Hornets. You can find this entry at its original location here, as well as follow the rest of our work on Facebook and Twitter.Nuggets trade SF Carmelo Anthony, PG Chauncey Billups, C Shelden Williams, PF Renaldo Balkman, and G Anthony Carter to Knicks for PG Raymond Felton, F Danilo Gallinari, SF Wilson Chandler, C Timofey Mozgov, its 2014 first-round pick, second-round picks in 2012 and 2013, and $3 million. Minnesota also trades SF Corey Brewer to Nuggets and CKosta Koufos to Knicks, receiving C Eddy Curry, PF Anthony Randolph, and $3 million from Knicks, and 2015 second-round pick from Nuggets:
This one affects the Hornets for a couple of reasons, both of which are positive. First, it makes the current Denver Nuggets team considerably weaker. While their current record may give them enough wiggle room to still make the playoffs, the odds are that they will fall to the 7th or 8th seed and not give the Hornets any real competition. The second reason is more long-term: the Knicks cripple their long-term financial flexibility. Sure, they got one of the top 20 players in the league in Carmelo Anthony, but at what cost? I keep hearing all of the rumors saying things like "Carmelo's in NY, CP3 is next!" I'm sure people enjoy thinking about it, but the reality is that there is almost no chance of it happening. Let me explain why.
The easiest way to begin is by making a comparison to the Big Three in Miami. LeBron, Wade, and Bosh each "settled" for starting salaries of $14.5 mm (LeBron/Bosh) and $14.2mm (Wade), totaling $43.2 mm. In New York, Amare ($16.5 mm) and Carmelo ($17.15 mm) are making a combined $33.65 mm. I don't claim to know all of the intricacies and details concerning NBA salary cap rules, but it would seem that if the Knicks were to totally clean house just like Miami did, the amount that they could offer a 3rd star would be right around that difference between $43.2 mm and $33.65 mm. However, this implies two things - #1, that the 3rd player were headed to NY now (not true, won't happen until 2012, at which point Amare and Carmelo's salaries will be around $20 mm each) and #2, that the current salary cap will remain the same after the new CBA is finalized (not true, every bit of info indicates that it will decrease substantially, in addition to a hard cap being instituted). Therefore, that 3rd "star" would have to agree to a starting salary of well under his market value. I know how much CP3 wants to win, but how do you think he would feel making 1/3 of the total that his two superstar buddies are making when he may very well be the best player of the three? It's not happening, folks. The only way it could happen is if the Knicks found a way to trade for Paul; even if New Orleans were to get cold feet and try to deal him next season, New York already unloaded nearly all of its assets to Denver in exchange for Carmelo, so there is no way they could offer up enough value for him. New York will not land a third superstar; if Melo wanted CP3 or Deron Williams to join him that badly, he would have agreed to an extension amount of less than the $22 million per season average that he is set to receive.
This trade helps the Hornets largely in the same way as the Carmelo Anthony trade. While Harris and three lottery draft picks (including Favors) is a pretty decent haul for the Jazz if they truly believed that Williams was not going to re-sign with them, the deal considerably weakens their current roster and will likely result in failing to reach the playoffs. Additionally, the trade means that yet another young star moves to the Eastern Conference, likely decreasing the appeal of playing for other Eastern Conference teams. Seriously, think about it - if you're Chris Paul, even if you wanted out of New Orleans, why would you go to the East? If he stays in the West, what other young stars does he have to get through on his way to the NBA finals besides the Westbrook-Durant duo in Oklahoma City? The Spurs (Duncan), Mavs (Nowitzki) and Lakers (Bryant) all have stars who only have a few years left at most. Aldridge has been looking damn good for Portland lately, and Blake Griffin is Blake Griffin, but do either of those teams really scream championship contender? If there's anything else that the Anthony and Williams trades did for the Hornets, it's that they made the Eastern Conference look a hell of a lot less appealing for the team's superstar point guard.
No real impact here (or for any of the other 28 teams, for that matter).
Nets trade PF Troy Murphy and its 2012 2nd round draft pick to the Warriors for PF Brendan Wright and C Dan Gadzuric
This trade has a small chance of affecting the Hornets from a personnel perspective. Two of the the three players in this trade (Murphy and Gadzuric) are expected to have their contracts bought out, making them free to sign with any team. Before the Hornets traded for Landry, I thought they may be players for Murphy, but now New Orleans won't have enough minutes to distribute at the PF position to make New Orleans an attractive destination for Murphy. There is a chance, however, that the Hornets pursue Gadzuric. As far as backup centers go, he is still below average, but he would definitely be an improvement over both Andersen and Mbenga, and maybe Gray as well.
Oh, the poetic justice! Take THAT, Baron! A notorious franchise-killing point guard reunited with the coach that he feuded with in New Orleans on the worst team in the NBA. To quote Bill Simmons, "We're 48 hours away from Baron firing his personal chef and replacing him with Jack from Jack in the Box." Apart from all the warm feelings this trade should give to any Hornets fan who refuses to forgive the Baron for crippling the Hornets a half-dozen years ago (like me, for example), the trade actually does give a little room to worry. In exchange for the the team's 1st round pick in a weak 2011 draft, the Clippers shed about $10 mm in salary over the next two seasons and position themselves to attempt to lure one of the big free agent names in the 2012 class to Los Angeles. I'm not saying that I expect any self-respecting NBA player to agree to play for Clippers owner Donald Sterling, but this trade at least gives them the ability to take a shot.
FREE HILTON! Just kidding, he's terrible. No real impact on the Hornets in this one.
The only real immediate effect that this trade has on the Hornets is that it gives Memphis a hold-over until star SF Rudy Gay gets healthy (the Hornets play the Grizzlies three more times this season but only one of the three will likely occur before Gay will return). Additionally, Battier is still solid defensively and is a very intelligent veteran, an addition that can only help Memphis as they make their run at a postseason berth. Even with this trade, the Hornets are still the better team, but Battier will definitely give the Grizzlies a slight boost.
Out of all the trades listed thus far, these the first two that should make Hornets fans start to worry, because the Thunder just vastly improved their team. Not only did the team desperately add some much-needed size, but OKC finally gets its best five players into the starting lineup. I really think that Jeff Green can be successful in the right situation, but Oklahoma City was not that situation. He never really seemed to gel with the rest of the starters, which can be proven statistically through the fact that the Thunder performed much better with Ibaka replacing him. Perkins isn't healthy right now, but the Thunder don't care about that; they just need him for the playoffs (in particular, the Lakers). Once they hit the postseason and have a crunchtime lineup of Westbrook-Harden-Durant-Ibaka-Perkins, this team is going to be one tough out, making a likely first-round matchup with the Hornets significantly more frightening.
Knowing that Perkins would not immediately be available, what did Thunder GM Sam Presti do? Nothing really, just go out and steal a hold-over/eventual backup for Perkins in Nazr Mohammed from the Bobcats. OKC gave up only a below average prospect in White and an expiring contract to make the salaries match in Peterson, and in return received a legitimate backup center. As a Hornets fan, not only am I upset because of how the trade makes the Thunder better, but also because our GM couldn't trump OKC's offer for Mohammed. Marcus Banks, Quincy Pondexter, and Jason Smith for Mohammed and Derrick Brown (who they ended up cutting to make roster space anyway) comes to mind. Are you going to tell me that Charlotte wouldn't have jumped at Q-Pon/J Smooth over DJ White? Anyway, the Thunder got their man, and as a result they added depth to a suddenly legitimate defensive frontcourt. My fellow Hornets die-hards, watch out for OKC in the playoffs.
This trade impacts the Hornets only because it makes another rival team better. I'm not too sure how Wallace will fit into the Blazers' lineup given how much they like Batum at SF, but he is going to make them a lot tougher defensively. A crunch-time lineup of Miller Matthews Batum Wallace Aldridge (or Miller Batum Wallace Aldridge Camby) both look much more formidable than their prior rotations. I still think the Hornets edge out Portland for the 5th seed in large part due to an easier strength of schedule from here on out, but the Blazers may have locked up no worse than the 6th seed with this deal. Good move by Portland.
Nothing special to report on this one regarding the Hornets, although Boston did manage to get rid of the two funniest looking players on their team, so kudos to the Celts on that one.
Suns trade PG Goran Dragic and its 2011 1st round pick (lottery-protected) to Houston for PG Aaron Brooks
This trade shouldn't have too much of an immediate impact on the Hornets, as Houston will likely miss the playoffs and Phoenix will fight for its life to grab the 8th seed. However, the Hornets do have 5 of their remaining 22 games against these two teams, so they will run into these two players on their new teams quite a bit. The Suns may have gotten the better player, but I'm not sure how much happier Brooks will be as Nash's backup than he was as Kyle Lowry's backup in Houston. Only time will tell the true effect of this deal.
Celtics trade SF Marquis Daniels to Kings for future 2nd round draft pick
No impact on the Hornets; purely a salary cap move for both teams, as the Kings fell below the league minimum team salary total after the Landry/Thornton trade and needed to add back to its payroll.
So, there's your list of all 2011 NBA trade deadline deals, as well as descriptions of each one's impact on the Hornets. If you have any opinions of your own, whether they agree or disagree with my thoughts, I encourage you to post them in the comments section. In sum, I think this year's deadline moves (not including the Hornets' one trade) create a slightly negative short-term effect on New Orleans because 4th seeded Oklahoma City and 6th seeded Portland both got significantly better. That being said, I also believe that the deals created a positive long-term effect on the team, mainly for the reasons that I listed above regarding Chris Paul. Of course, I'm always open to counter-arguments! Let me hear ‘em.