New Orleans Hornets' trade rumors have continued to swirl for quite some time about nearly all members of the starting roster. Emeka Okafor, David West, Devin Brown, and even Chris Paul himself have all been seen their names pop up in trade scenarios all around the Web.
Let's clear a few things up.
David West trade rumors have been flying for a while now, but a number of signs point to it not happening. For one, he's a favorite of owner George Shinn.
His friendship with Chris Paul is another deterring factor. It's widely speculated that Paul would be furious with a West move, given their now five-year history of playing together.
Also, he's playing much better as of late and seems to have regained the fire that made him an All-Star the last two years. Had he not struggled in the beginning of the season it's unlikely any rumors would have surfaced.
Given his consistent history, it's clear the beginning of this season was nothing but a minor cold spell. His recent performances prove he's still the same player as the last two years.
Trading him would be disastrous to the season.
Emeka Okafor just got to the Hornets and is the lone rebounding force in the middle for the Bees. In fact, he's their only big man who is above league average in that regard.
He was rumored about early in the season, but he's playing well and seems to finally be gelling with the rest of the squad. A number of key blocks and great clutch play has made him a fan favorite already.
Some might point out that Charlotte didn't want him, but Larry Brown has acknowledged the move was done for financial reasons.
Frankly, nearly every team would LOVE to take on Okafor and his contract. It's not a max deal, and he hasn't missed a game in over two years. The Hornets are no exception, having proved it already.
Chris Paul isn't going anywhere, ever. Occasionally someone might mention him in one of those blow-up-the-team scenarios, but barring catastrophe he will be a Hornet.
The idea that dumping Devin Brown shows the Hornets are in "desperation" (ESPN) of dumping salary is ludicrous.
These guys that come in and play the two-guard with Chris Paul always put the same numbers up. Rasual Butler? Devin Brown? Morris Peterson? All these are completely replaceable players.
All that being the starting two requires in New Orleans is adequate defense and the ability to make wide open three-pointers. I'm talking WIDE OPEN.
That being said, Brown is playing great since the failed deal. It would really be surprising to see him out the door.
Peja Stojakovic has a contract with more symbols than his name. With another year left, he's practically untradeable.
James Posey is certainly a player the Hornets regret signing, but teams aren't lining up for Big Shot James anymore. His plus/minus numbers show him to be the least productive member of the team, and with the length in his salary, it's unlikely to see him traded.
Morris Peterson hasn't shown much in years. He will play the role of token veteran starting shooting guard in the event that Devin Brown is traded. The additional year on his contract will prevent his departure via trade.
Oddly enough it's the players most likely to be traded that aren't being talked about. They aren't the sexiest names.
Darius Songaila has looked great filling in as the third forward for New Orleans. His salary is reasonable, and he probably won't even invoke his player option for next year. Even if he does, it wouldn't hurt any team to have him. If the Hornets actually are desperate to get under the cap, he could easily be sent to a contender.
Unfortunately, it would also kill New Orleans' season. They are undersized enough as it is.
Julian Wright has been a pretty big disappointment throughout the last two years, but at the young age of 22, it remains to be seen what his future holds. He doesn't have a big or long deal. He's another guy who will be widely discussed behind closed doors.
Hilton Armstrong has been terrible throughout his career. He's essentially an expiring contract since nobody in their right mind would offer him a qualifying offer.
If things come down to the wire and no other deal has formed, the Hornets will send Armstrong with enough cash to pay his full salary to a team under the cap.
Bobby Brown and Sean Marks may suffer a similar fate.
The rookies, Darren Collison and Marcus Thornton, are extremely unlikely to be moved.
From a strictly financial standpoint it would make little sense to trade a key player such as West or Okafor with a playoff berth being the sacrifice.
A playoff berth is worth millions in direct additional revenue to the team (it has been speculated approximately one million per game) and untold millions more from indirect sources such as season ticket holder renewal, new ticket sales, more fans, etc.
So don't worry Hornets fans, George Shinn will allow this group a chance to shine.
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