New Orleans Hornets
2/4 Signed Sasha Pavlovic to a 10-day contract
2/23 Traded Marcus Thornton and cash to Sacramento for Carl Landry
On a talent basis, Thornton for Landry was a pretty fair exchange. The issue here was not talent but money. Mark Cuban criticized the trade because the Hornets, which are owned by the NBA and capitalized collectively by the NBA owners, made a trade that added a bit to the Hornets’ payroll ($750,000) in the deal. Cuban’s stated his beef thusly: “If New Orleans is taking back $2 million [pro-rated for the last few months of the season] and I own 1/29th of it, I’m going to go against the grain and say that’s just wrong. There’s no way, with their payroll, having to dump salary before they were sold to us; now they can take on more salary while they’re losing money. That’s just wrong every which way.”
Cuban raises an interesting point. He wants the Hornets to be payroll neutral while he is kicking in cash to keep them afloat. On the other hand, we are not privy to agreements that the owners made about New Orleans before they bought out George Shinn. We do know that:
-The Hornets were losing money
-Shinn didn’t have the capital to keep them going
-Shinn was not easy to deal with and was a detriment enough to the NBA so much so that they were prepared to buy him out before finding an outside buyer
-The NBA wants to keep the Hornets attractive enough for another prospective buyer
Given what we know, it would make sense that a fairly competitive team should be willing to raise payroll a tiny bit to keep up appearances. If the Hornets are treated purely like a holding company, it probably looks worse to its perceived value than having to pick up an extra $750,000. I understand Cuban’s complaint in the abstract. It is his money (he is kicking in about $27,000 for the salary) but it is in the NBA’s interest to make this team look good and to try to keep its primary asset (Chris Paul) happy in the short term. Presumably, Cuban will also get a return on the investment when the team is actually sold.
If the Hornets turn into a neglected team or an expansion team, the NBA and Cuban lose value on the re-sale. Moreover, Cuban’s complaints only serve to undermine the NBA’s claims that they can hold onto the Hornets until a suitable buyer is found and potentially hurts the NBA’s bargaining position with outside prospective buyers. If Cuban has to pay less than he has in per diems to busts like Desagana Diop or Evan Eschmeyer, that is a small price to try to keep normalcy in New Orleans. Still, it is hard to dispute that the NBA will have to make a sale soon. The Hornets will have to make some difficult personnel decisions (on Paul and David West) in the near future and no matter what decision is made the NBA will face criticism unless it is made by a third-party owner that is concerned with the future success of the team.
1/28 Signed Damien Wilkins for the remainder of the season
2/23 Traded Mike Bibby, Maurice Evans, Jordan Crawford, and a draft pick to Washington for Kirk Hinrich and Hilton Armstrong
This can best be described as a modest upgrade. Bibby is pretty much cooked as his game has declined in all facets the last two years. Hinrich is a better player on every level now. The caveat is that Hinrich hasn’t been more than average for a while and he won’t turn Atlanta from decent playoff team to serious contender. Nevertheless, a small improvement is better than nothing.
2/24 Traded Marquis Daniels and cash to Sacramento for a 2017 second-round pick
2/24 Traded Nate Robinson and Kendrick Perkins to Oklahoma City for Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic
2/24 Traded Luke Harangody and Semih Erden to Celveland for a 2013 second-round pick
2/24 Signed Chris Johnson to a 10-day contract
Apparently, trading Perkins has rocked the world of the Celtics core and the fans. It is true that Perkins was a very solid starting center and that he did a great job on Dwight Howard and Andrew Bynum. It is also true that both Shaquille and Jermaine O’Neal are iffy to stay healthy at center. On the other hand, Perkins was coming off of a major injury, had not yet been very effective (was the worst scoring non-Harangody scorer on Boston this year) and is about to become a free agent. The Celts were also desperate for a wingman after Daniels went down.
Taking away all the emotional responses, Perkins’ role in holding down Howard may be overblown. The Celts are 2-1 against Howard and the only game they lost to Orlando (on Christmas Day), Howard was held to 1-4 shooting and six points while being guarded by Glen Davis. In Perkins one game against Orlando (a Celtic win a few weeks ago), Howard had 28 pts on 10-20 shooting and 28 points. In fact, the win stemmed from locking up the Orlando perimeter players. So, Perkins is a help on Howard but he is not essential to Boston on that front or even against the Lakers should they meet again in the Finals.
In terms of talent exchanged, Green for Perkins is almost a perfect fit. Good all-around players without much star potential, both of whom will be free agents at the end of the season. Getting Green and also Krstic, a useful bench player is a net win for Boston. With the defensive team the Celts have, this trade should be a small benefit and a defensible move. Continue reading Transactions: 1/15-2/25 Part I…