I apologize for the delay in this post. I've been at work all evening and Rohan hasn't been by a computer but alas... it's here.
It was reported yesterday that the Hornets were strongly interested in Robin Lopez and that they had tried to work out a sign and trade with the Phoenix Suns for the young center. Now, it looks like the Hornets got what they wanted in picking up Lopez in a three team trade with the Suns and the Minnesota Timberwolves. In picking up Lopez, the Hornets fill up their last big front court need and acquire a player who can play at the five spot exclusively for the team, potentially leaving a rotation of Anthony Davis, Jason Smith and Robin Lopez in the front court. Not bad.
So to recap, this is the framework of the trade:
The Hornets receive - Robin Lopez and Hakim Warrick from the Phoenix Suns
The Suns receive - Wesley Johnson and a future 1st Round Draft pick from Minnesota Timberwolves and Brad Miller from New Orleans Hornets
The Timberwolves receive - Jerome Dyson and two 2nd Round Draft Picks from Hornets; cap space that they used to sign Andrei Kirilenko.
Lopez is young, at 24, and fits the team's movement this off season to get younger. He's not gangbusters or anything, but he's a serviceable big to have at the back-up spot. Considering that the team was looking at players like Ryan Hollins a couple of weeks ago, I consider Lopez to be a good acquisition. He ranked in the top 26 in C's with a PER of 15.2 (above league average), doesn't actually turn the ball over as much as advertised (in the top 12 of C's with a 11.5 Turnover%), and is a good enough offensive option but he doesn't rebound at a particularly high rate (13.2%), only ranks in the top 30 in eFG% and shouldn't command a ton of minutes from the team. So, basically, he's a productive big man who should be serviceable for about 20 minutes a game. Pretty much what the team needed. They take back Hakim Warrick in the deal (and his 2 years, $9.6 Million remaining on his contract) to appease Phoenix in the deal. Warrick, at 30 years old, doesn't seem to fit the team's need long term and creates a bit of a log jam at the PF position and isn't particularly a good defender. But his inclusion was necessary to make the deal work.
The deal, at 3 years and $15 Million, is really good for the Hornets. As I mentioned earlier, the market for big men has been inflated. Omer Asik received 8 million a year, even Marcus Camby just signed for 3 years and $13 Million with the Knicks this off season (and he's about 14 years older than Lopez). Lopez was going to get paid just because of his size and, honestly, $5 million is not at all overpaying.
As for Warrick, I hear he has a team option but I'm not positive on any deadlines for the Hornets to pick up the option on that contract. You have to imagine that if they can then they won't and they'll let him expire at the end of the year. He figures to be the team's fifth big and I don't see him playing a major role this upcoming season. One thing that I do think it does, however, is open up the possibility for Lance Thomas to play Small Forward. That was his position at Duke and, while he doesn't have ideal foot speed defensively, he can shift at the 3 spot and push Al-Farouq Aminu for minutes.
So the Hornets got Brad Miller in a nothing deal a week or so ago and we all shrugged our shoulders before he then used Miller's contract to grab Robin Lopez. All in all, a great move from Dell Demps to solidify the team's front court options. We'll see what more moves the team makes going forward but discuss!