The dice start rolling tonight at midnight when NBA free agents become eligible to sign new contracts. So where do the Hornets stand in terms of available free agents?
This year’s crop of available players is pretty balanced. Elton Brand and Baron Davis are reportedly tucked into the Clipper fold, leaving a dearth of star players still on the market. But just because there aren’t any star players left doesn’t mean there aren’t any good players left.
The Hornets are pining for a shooting guard to replace Mo Pete in the starting lineup. Peterson did a serviceable job last season but eight points a game from your shooting guard is simply not enough.
A two-guard is supposed to score points, that’s why he’s called a shooting guard. Eight points a night won’t cut it anymore for Byron Scott.
So who is floating around on the free agent market that could join the Hornets as Peterson’s replacement? Well, here are three names you can look for along with the chances New Orleans has to land each guy.
Corey Maggette: 15 percent chance
Maggette is a hot commodity right now, maybe the hottest on the market. That’s what 22 points a game last season will earn you. You would think L.A. would be falling over themselves trying to resign him, after all, it’s not every day that a player voluntarily spends eight seasons with the Clippers.
That type of loyalty, especially to a franchise like the Clippers, should be rewarded with 10 bricks of gold and a lap dance from Kim Kardashian at least. Instead, it looks like Donald Sterling is giving all his money to Baron Davis and Elton Brand; leaving Maggette homeless—temporarily, of course.
Though he’s drawing interest from at least a dozen teams, the former Dukie has made it known he’s interested in the Spurs and Celtics. That’s why I’m giving him an outside 15 percent chance to land in New Orleans.
The Hornets could give him the maximum mid-level exemption meaning he would get as much money with the Hornets as with anyone else. But when a player makes public what team he wants to go to, he usually ends up with that team.
James Posey: 30 percent chance
Never underestimate the value of a proven winner. As a role player for the Heat two years ago and the Celtics this past season, Posey did all the little things to help his team stretch itself to a championship level.
He plays ferocious defense, hustles down every loose ball within his reach and knocks down pressure-packed open jumpers with regularity. Plus he wears knee high socks.
The Hornets would be wise to make a serious run at Posey. He’s well worth the $5-6 million a year they would have to pay him. His championship pedigree would go a long way in helping Chris Paul and Co. reach the next level.
Alas, it seems that the rest of the league has caught the Posey fever as well, which means the Hornets won’t be the only team rolling out the red carpet. But the opportunity to play with Chris Paul has got to be worth something, right?
Obviously, Byron Scott and Jeff Bower think their franchise is attractive enough to free agents that they can afford to pass on the draft. They’ve got to know something we don’t, right? Some ace up their sleeve, perhaps? I certainly hope so.
Ben Gordon: 75 percent chance
In the logjam of guards that is the Chicago Bulls, Ben Gordon hasn’t been a full-time starter since he entered the league four years ago. Despite that, he’s never averaged less than 15 points a game.
Gordon can flat-out score the basketball. He has a dead-on 3-point jump shot and if that’s not falling, he’s got a knack for getting to the rim. He would immediately improve the Hornets offensive attack and would give Chris Paul another young, athletic body to run with.
There’s a problem with Gordon, though. He’s not a free agent. The Hornets would have to make a move to get him. The reason he’s even being discussed as an option is because Derrick Rose was drafted last month by the Bulls, creating even more of a backup at the guard position.
The logical assumption would be that the Bulls move Kirk Hinrich, the current point guard, to make way for Rose, the future point guard and keep Gordon as a scorer off the bench.
But apparently Hinrich is a favorite of Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf and he wants to stay in the Windy City. That means Gordon would have to be shopped. If he is, the Hornets should be right there in the mix of teams clamoring for his services.
In the end, the Hornets need to make a bit of a splash in the next few days in terms of adding a free agent. Byron Scott said the team is built to win now. I tend to agree with him, but I still think the team is one player away.
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