NBA Season 2010: Chris Paul, New Orleans Hornets' Outlook
The New Orleans Hornets acquired Trevor Ariza on Wednesday in a four-team deal that additionally saw Troy Murphy, Darren Collision, and Courtney Lee all move to new locales.
The Hornets are coming off a disappointing 37-win regular season and an offseason with major trade speculation surrounding franchise point guard Chris Paul.
In July, according to "sources"—the most oft-used term during this summer's free agent fiasco—Chris Paul demanded a trade. The New York Knicks, followed by the Orlando Magic, were the two teams heading Paul's wish list of potential trade destinations.
New Hornets' coach, Monty Williams, quickly shared his displeasure with the idea of Paul being traded:
"So many people are begging for a point guard. You're talking about the best one in the game. I couldn't envision being here without Chris."
Along with Monty Williams becoming the new head coach for the Hornets, there was another change in the Hornets' hierarchy as Dell Demps took over as general manager.
Along with the changes already in place within the Hornets' organization, there has been strong indications within the past few months that proposed ownership change will take place with current owner Goerge Shinn, who has been with the Hornets since the franchise's inception in Charlotte, handing the keys to the franchise over to minority owner Gary Chouest.
With all of the change in the Hornets' organization, moving Chris Paul seemed unrealistic and non-sensical. However, in the midst of all of the moves during this offseason, Paul's alleged trade demands seemed perfect fodder for a transition period from the South Beach All-Stars to a new conglomerate of all-NBA players in either New York or Orlando.
Darren Collison, soon to be 23-year-old point guard out of UCLA, was in line to be the perfect understudy to Chris Paul. While Paul missed a good portion of last season with a left knee injury that required surgery, Collison started 37 out of 76 games and averaged 18.8 points and 9.1 assists.
Collison had a fantastic rookie season and was as valuable a commodity for his potential, as he was for insurance in case Paul was shipped out of New Orleans.
Now that Collison has been traded to the Indiana Pacers and the Hornets are moving forward with Trevor Ariza, the Hornets are going to be fighting for the playoff spot injuries didn't allow them to properly compete for last year.
Trevor Ariza is certainly a serviceable player that provided excellent production for the Los Angeles Lakers during the first of their two title runs in 2009. However, Ariza is coming off an extremely inefficient season that saw him shoot less than 40 percent from the field, and shoot almost twice as many three-pointers per game as free throws per game—not necessarily what you are looking for from a 6'8" forward.
The Hornets' trio of Emeka Okafor, Peja Stojakovic, and Chris Paul comprises more than $40 million in salary. That trio, however, doesn't necessarily tout a proper "bang for the buck" correlation with Stojakavic's production declining severely in recent years, and Okafor carrying around a reputation as a player that produces, but never quite to the level that his salary dictates he should.
The Hornets clearly traded for Ariza in an attempt to compete this year, but with their current salary obligations and roster, the re-tooled Hornets management seems to have constructed a team that will not do as much immediate damage in the Western Conference as they have hinged Chris Paul's future with the organization, and in turn, the franchise's future on.
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