In a four-team, five-player trade, the New Orleans Hornets will be acquiring Trevor Ariza from the Houston Rockets in an attempt to prove to their star Chris Paul that they’re committed to winning. In return, they’re giving away last year’s promising rookie point guard, Darren Collison, who will land with the Desperately-Seeking-Point-Guard Indiana Pacers. The Pacers also will have to take on the contract of James Posey. Indiana in turn will send Troy Murphy and his expiring $12 million contract to the New Jersey Nets. Finally, the Nets pass along second year shooting guard Courtney Lee to the Rockets. How did each team fare? Well…
For the Hornets, by getting rid of both Collison and Posey, they’ll actually lower their salary commitment this year as the aged Posey alone was due to make slightly more than the much younger and more athletic Ariza. With Ariza and second-year shooting guard Marcus Thornton on the wings, Chris Paul should have good enough running companions to boost the team back into playoff contention. And hopefully assuage CP3’s concerns. On the other hand, if he ends up deciding to leave in two years, well, dang, the Hornets just gave away someone who could’ve been their point guard of the future.
For the Rockets, the main goal seems to be a salary dump. After having made a big trade last year for Kevin Martin, they don’t seem to need a 2-guard. Then again, L’il KMart seems to have gone to the Marcus Camby/Tracy McGrady School Of Injury Prevention, so if (or when?) he goes down, they’ll have a replacement. Lee showed promise as a rookie with the Orlando Magic, but last year on the Nets he was given tons of minutes and every chance to succeed, but he failed to make any waves. We’re talking not even a ripple in the water. But maybe he’s better suited to be like a fifth or sixth option rather than say a third. Whatever, it’s all about whether Yao can make it through the season healthy. If he does, Houston fans might not notice that they gave away one of their better players (who was on a reasonable contract) for a man named Courtney.
The Pacers, while it does give them that precious point guard they’ve been searching for, it does leave them pretty friggin’ thin with their bigs. Presumably Roy Hibbert will start at center, but then who’s at power forward? Josh McRoberts? One-dimensional aged rebounder Jeff Foster? Maybe they’re hoping Tyler Hansbrough can step in, but he’s rumored to still be suffering from the same vertigo that torpedoed his year last season. The only other big they’ve got is Solomon Jones, who seems unlikely to finally figure out the game at age 26. That said, there’s a great chance that of all the players in this deal, it’s Collison who ends up being the best.
The Nets, meanwhile, not only get a veteran power forward in Murphy for new coach Avery Johnson, but perhaps even more importantly, they have a valuable commodity with his expiring contract. After none of the big guns signed with the Nets in the off-season, perhaps their best bet is to trade for a star rather than try to convince someone to play in the limbo of New Jersey. This also allows 19-year-old rookie Derrick Favors to be brought along more slowly and have a vet who can teach him the ropes. Although you know Favors has to be bummed, ‘cuz there went his starting gig (particularly since earlier in the off-season the team gave away Yi Jianlian to make room for Fave). Also, as teammate Devin Harris can attest from his time in Dallas, Avery can be particularly demanding on rooks. Could this result in Favors constantly looking over his shoulder, worried he’ll get yanked if he makes a mistake? Avery’s said he’ll be mellower this time around, so who knows?