At this point, I feel like any change is good change.
New Orleans is a team that needed to make moves. They currently have the best point guard in the NBA on their roster, and they couldn't have entered this season sporting basically the same exact lackluster team they ended the 2009-2010 season with.
Progress would not have been made. Ticket sales would have dipped. I would have gotten bored.
So, as a Hornets fan who watched the bumbling Hornets brass shell out absurd amounts of cash to nearly washed-up players like Peja Stojakovic and James Posey years ago, it's somewhat cathartic to see them grab two players entering their respective primes.
Adding Trevor Ariza and Marco Belinelli instantly changes the landscape of this team, it makes them watchable again.
Their playoff aspirations have been renewed and their starting five solidified. And I have to believe a few more moves are in the works before November. Perhaps finding a new backup PG and a legitimate backup C (Why couldn't they have just held onto Cole Aldrich?).
Will Darren Collison be missed in New Orleans? Sure. If ownership can't make Paul happy? Most definitely.
That's where Dell Demps and Co. have been shrewd.
Who Will Be More Productive This Season
The clock may be ticking until Paul becomes a free agent—but that alarm goes off in 2012. They still have time to spare. Ownership knows that, and decided to pull off a pretty major risk-reward move fairly early in their regime.
It's a sign that IF they end up losing the face of their franchise—they're not going down without a fight.
And I admit, it’s hard to see the aforementioned “face of the franchise” act like the only 12 year-old in the neighborhood without an iPhone. “Chris, LeBron, and Amare’s mom got them one…I want one too!”
Since when did the NBA stop being a business and start being junior high?
If Paul truly wants out, at least now the Hornets have a few more pieces in place to keep the team competitive with the players they’d get in return.
As for the trade itself, a few points:
Collison Played Like a Top-5 Pick Last Season When He Started
There's no denying that. He threw up double-doubles (and sometimes triple-doubles) with seemingly relative ease.
So it stands to reason he'll continue that type of play as a starter in Indiana, because he'll be dishing the rock to Danny Granger...and...um...Danny Granger? Can the Pacers clone Danny Granger?
Granted, the Hornets were a mediocre squad last year, but the Pacers make the Hornets look like world beaters. Collison had David West, Emeka Okafor, Stojakovic, and the second biggest steal of last year's draft (besides Collison) in Marcus Thornton.
There isn't a single offensive threat on Indiana's current roster besides the enigma that is Mike Dunleavy, and Troy Murphy, whom they just shipped off to New Jersey.
Where's Collison Going To Get His Assists From?
Brandon Rush? Dahntay Jones? James Posey's bloated contract? Please.
This trade gives the Pacers what they believe to be their point guard of the future. He had an excellent rookie season, for sure. But his pedigree doesn't suggest it gets much better from here.
I think Pacers fans are desperately pining for a reason to be optimistic, but all this trade does is make them even less competitive this season than they were a year before.
Good for lottery ping-pong balls? Yes.
Good for ticket sales and casual fans? Not so much.
Pundits Like To Knock Trevor Ariza for His Low FG Percentage
Really? That's all you got? I'd like to reiterate that the dude has just turned 25 years old, and just finished his first full season as a true offensive option on a team with a shoot-first PG whom he didn't mesh well with.
He's a pretty dynamic player, but it seems that other franchises simply didn't know where he could fit in their schemes.
Oh, and marinate in these numbers for a hot minute: 46, 52, 45, 53. No, those aren't the ages of those pretentious cougars from Sex and The City (Kim Cattrall could be 80 years old for all I know); those were Ariza's FG percentages during his previous four seasons prior to Houston.
Smaller sample sizes of course, but telling nonetheless. Paul will get him open looks, and I expect last year's horrid percentages to become an outlier instead of a trend.
And How about that Italian Stallion, Belinelli?
Well, for one thing, he's efficient.
The sharpshooter averaged 8.9 points-per-game in 21 minutes-per-game in as a member of a toxic Warriors squad in 2008-2009. And even as his minutes somehow dipped on a talent-starved Raptors squad last season he still managed to average 7.1 points-per-game in 17 minutes.
Give Belinelli 25-28 minutes? You have yourself one of the more productive sixth men in the league. Did I mention he's 24 years old?
The Hornets added young pieces with potential to burn. Plus, they’ve now ridden themselves of Mo Peterson and Posey's atrocious contracts, and managed to keep their core intact.
The Hornets were in a unique situation, with arguably the second most productive player on their team playing the same position as their superstar. Nobody, not even the guys in New Orleans' war room could’ve predicted this type of production from Collision.
But the Hornets weren't going to win more games this season with Collision playing 20-25 minutes off the bench. Thus, Collison became expendable even given his tremendous rookie numbers.
My Hornets' bias of course eats away at me to play devil's advocate given all the positive feedback the "experts" have been giving Indiana for this deal. But, bias or no bias, the Ariza and Belinelli trades help New Orleans this season, and shows CP that the team won't stand idly while he pouts about not being part of the free-agent fun.