The New Orleans Hornets continued their roster revision process on Saturday, finalizing a five-man swap with the Toronto Raptors. The deal sent two Hornets backups--- small forward Peja Stojakovic and point guard Jerryd Bayless--- to the Raptors for point guards Jarrett Jack, forward Marcus Banks and center David Andersen.
Fans won't know the efficacy of this trade until the Hornets (10-1) explore the rotational possibilities over a few games. But for now, fans have to be fairly satisfied with this deal.
Starting with the departed Hornets, no major surprises exist here. Stojakovic, the oldest and highest paid player on the team, was starting to reassert his three point shooting off the bench, but has long been the subject of trade speculation. And with his age, one-dimensional offensive role, and unremarkable defense, he simply didn't fit the Hornets bill at this point.
Bayless’s departure is a little more surprising given his recent acquisition and player attributes--- youth, athleticism, and aggressive offense. But for all his fearless driving, he isn’t a great finisher and has given the Bees just 4.5 points and 2.5 assists in 13 minutes per game.
Bayless can become a great player in the NBA, but for now, Jarrett Jack is a big improvement for New Orleans. The former Georgia Tech star has been a reliable starter, including 79 games for the Portland Trail Blazers (2006-2007) and 53 for the Indiana Pacers (2008-2009), collectively averaging about twelve points and five assists in those years.
At 27, Jack is young, experienced, and represents a comfortable contingency plan for a dreaded Chris Paul injury. And while Bayless is an attacking point guard, Jack is a true point who dishes first and shoots second, despite having always played on mediocre teams that needed his scoring. And for all the Hornets outspoken emphasis on defense and transitional scoring, they still rely on a motion-oriented, point-guard driven offense.
The Australian-born David Andersen has spent most of his career outside the NBA, but his size supersedes all. With his arrival, New Orleans goes from a moderately sized team to a squad with two 7-footers coming off the bench.
Jason Smith has already proven he can score, rebound, and alternate between four and five, which takes some initial pressure off Andersen. If the Aussie can semi-duplicate Emeka Okafor’s defensive intensity off the bench, he’ll fit nicely into the second unit.
New Orleans wouldn’t be tied atop its division without great bench play, which has included contributions from Stojakovic and Bayless at times. But with Willie Green and Smith both looking like Sixth Man of the Year candidates on both ends, the veteran three point artist and young point guard had extremely high standards to measure up to.
Plus, there’s the fact that trading Peja--- a financially appealing move--- became a lot more feasible as a package deal. It’s finally happened, and new general manager Dell Demps appears to have orchestrated yet another subtly beneficial trade for his team.