Oookay, I'm back at last. I return, as Thoreau from Walden or as Manny Ramirez from suspension, awash with transcendentalism and/or less detectable steroids.
I hadn't really been keeping up with NBA proceedings, so it was shocking to hear of each consecutive Orlando defeat of Cleveland, having not watched the games at all. Crazy and it makes me look forward even more to next year. Really, really hope they can knock off L.A., though I don't see it happening.
Anyways, it's time to get back in the swing of things. My random vacation from blogging has set back a lot of the early posts I wanted to get down- Jeff Bower, player recaps, and the like. Those should start trickling in soon enough. For now, just to get my feet wet, a quick series of posts on the 2008-2009 roster and the odds each player will be back. Before getting into potential acquisitions, it's good to see who the probably holdovers will be. For today, it's Paul, West, Chandler, Peja, and Mo- last year's starters.
Why he could be back: He's pretty good.
Why he could be gone: No possible ways (unless New Orleans plans on folding as a franchise)
Why he could be back: Iso game skill set complements Paul well, back-to-back All-Star
Why he could be gone: With the shroud of uncertainty around Tyson Chandler's ankle, West is easily the Hornets' most viable trade chip. If management does indeed opt to put an entirely new cast around Paul, West could bring back young players or draft picks. From just a preliminary glimpse at teams with potential interest, I don't see the Hornets getting equal value for him though. He's long been undervalued as a player, and it's unlikely the Hornets can convince someone to overpay for him (ie, clearly "win" a trade). A trade of West for young talent also would likely condemn the Hornets to mediocrity next season, which could go over poorly with an ever strengthening fan base. Overall, it's highly likely West stays.
Why he could be back: Despite a mediocre season, Chandler had been a rock in the middle before that. His offensive game will probably never develop much more, but at full health, he's one of the premier post defenders in the league. And before I bemoan his offense too much, he does play the pick and roll beautifully with Paul.
Why he could be gone: Going into 2008-2009, Chandler's trade value was sky high. He was 26 years old, coming off a great offensive and defensive campaign, and coming off a tremendous individual series versus Tim Duncan. Around January/February, it became pretty widely known that the Hornets were unlikely to make a deep run in the playoffs and that owner George Shinn would really, really, really like it avoid the luxury tax in 2010. The Hornets' hand was thus revealed, and NO ended up moving him at a mega-discount rate to Oklahoma City. Surprise, surprise, that failed, and back came Chandler. Only now his value fell even further, via the results of a physical. His ankle seemed to deteriorate significantly as he made his come back to the point where Hilton Armstrong was a far better option in the playoffs. To sum, the Hornets are highly unlikely to get fair value back for Chandler. That's simply what happens with "mysterious" injuries, which is exactly how I'd describe Chandler's issues. Nonetheless, the Hornets could still clear space by moving him. I'd be stunned if they didn't make at least a couple attempts as soon as possible.
Why he could be back: He makes 6 million next year and 6.5 the year after. Simply put, nobody's gonna take those years at those dollars. Once upon a time, I could have envisioned him being moved in a Chandler deal, but those days are past. Some team may be asked to take him to sweeten a West deal, and that's probably the only scenario in which he's traded (either that, or a 5, 6+ player deal). Overall, MoPete can probably still contribute very meaningful minutes, just don't try telling that to Byron Scott.
Why he could be gone: It would obviously be in the Hornets' best interest to explore every avenue of moving him. Rasual Butler came on strong last year, and the two have very similar skillsets.
Why he could be back: Pretty much everything I said about Peterson is applicable to Peja, multiplied by two. Stojakovic will make 13.4 mil next year, followed by an obscene 14.2 mil the year after. Maybe someone desperate for a three point shooter might cautiously call and ask a price, but wouldn't it be infinitely easier to contact the seemingly permanent firesale that is the Timberwolves about Mike Miller?
Why he could be gone: He won't be. Technically, there is a chance that 2009-2010 is his last year with New Orleans; he has an early termination option before his final year, but really, what are the odds he opts out? He'd probably have to break the all time three point record while winning the World's Strongest Man contest to prove the durability of his back. And even then it might be too risky to pass up that kind of money. (Speaking of World's Strongest Man, is there a more entertaining non-major-sport sport? Answer: absolutely not. The random locales, the random challenges ("driving" a car a la Fred Flintstone is hilarious), the absurdly beefed up individuals... how is this not more popular than MLB? I mean, they both use tons of steroids, one sport just uses them to crazy extremes and has no qualms about doing so.)
Anyways, I'm thinking I'll finish off the rest of the roster in the next post.