What Were the Hornets Thinking?

Yesterday, the New Orleans Hornets traded Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza to Washington in exchange for Rashard Lewis and the No. 46 pick in this year’s draft.  In the article on http://espn.go.com/, I read that the Hornets planned to waive Lewis before July 1 in order to save $10 million.  Having made the trade, waiving Lewis and saving all that money is a good move, especially since he will be 33 on August 8.  He is barely above my replacement level of .025 Wins Produced Per 48 Minutes, and he is the most overpaid player in the NBA according to Wins Produced.  However, they should never acquired him in the first place, or, at the very least, gotten more than a second round pick to go with him.

Let’s talk about what the Hornets gave up.  Former Laker Trevor Ariza is a fairly average small forward across the board.  He consistently accumulates impressive steals totals and rarely fouled this year, but some of this is negated by his below-average scoring efficiency.  In other words, he suffers from a very minor case of scoreritis.  Since he will only be 27 at the start of the season, he has many good seasons ahead of him, although his $6.79 million salary is a bit high.  He has had some injuries, notably the one in the 2007-08 season which sidelined him for most of the season through the conference semi-finals.  He has two more years left on his contract.

Emeka Okafor is a fairly average center who has started to decline.  His rebounding totals remain very good, but his blocks and his scoring efficiency fell this year.  Some of that may be due to the fact that injuries limited him to 27 games, decreasing his statistical sample size.  His assist totals have never been high, even for a center, but his foul totals are nice and low.  Despite having something of a reputation for injury, he has played at least 67 games in all but two of his eight seasons.  He will turn 30 in September, and his $12.6 million salary for two more years is a bit excessive, but he is still a solid player.

All New Orleans got in exchange for these two solid, albeit overpriced, veterans was a mid-second round pick and a whole lot of cap space.  No matter what type of spin one may try to put on it, this is not a good deal.  This is especially true when you consider that the Hornets are going to use that cap space to give Eric Gordon a nice extension.

Eric Gordon is not bad, but he is average.  Being average is a good thing, especially when some team is going to give you a hefty contract.  Of course, for the team, a hefty contract for an average player is a bad thing, even if he won’t turn 24 until Christmas.  Eric Gordon is a very bad rebounder who turns the ball over a lot.  Surprisingly considering his reputation, Gordon’s scoring efficiency is above-average, meaning that he does not suffer from scoreritis.  Last season, he was worth only $2,364,066 when averaging my three methods, but it would have been higher if he had played more than 9 games.  Which brings up another red flag-he’s already had a major injury.

All in all, New Orleans performed very poorly in this trade.  Now don’t get me wrong; I love second round picks.  However, I don’t think that that and a ton of cap space (which will be used to pay for a decidedly average player) is worth the cost of losing two average veterans, even if the veterans are overpaid.

Hopefully for Hornets fans, they will perform better in the draft.  With their No. 1 pick, they are obviously going to take Anthony Davis, who is clearly the best choice.  However, their No. 10 pick could yield Damian Lillard or Will Barton.  If that happens, yay for them.  It could also become Perry Jones III or (horror of horrors) Austin Rivers.  We’ll wait and see.  And with No. 46, Louisiana hopes that they find a diamond in the rough.  Thank you for reading, and please comment with your opinions.



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