NBA writer Shaun Powell reports that the Hornets are willing to trade the 10th pick in this year's draft if a team is willing to take on Ariza or Okafor's contract. Should the Bobcats bite on such a deal? Obviously, Okafor does not belong back in Charlotte as his contract is too large. We sucker punched NO but good with that deal.
But what about Ariza? Taking on any salary of an under performing veteran runs counter to the current rebuilding ethos, but there just might be enough incentive to stray from the course. Recently, the Bobcats have been linked to either Cleveland or Portland as potential trade partners to add an extra first rounder, but I'm skeptical that these scenarios really work. First, either team would have to really fall in love with a guy who they don't expect to fall very far. This is no given. Secondly, the Bobcats could easily hurt themselves by missing out on the best available talent at #2 (not better than Davis per sey, but the best of the rest). Trading down could work out, but it's a double edged sword to be certain.
So here's the kicker: taking on Ariza's contract could allow Charlotte to add a second peice in a deep draft while still getting the second best overall talent (my early money's on Robinson, but it's debatable). So what are the pros and cons of taking on Ariza and the #10 pick?
Ariza is owed about 15 million over the next 2 seasons. That's a hefty price tag considering his performance over the past few seasons, but Ariza is definitely not without his charms. He's really not the most efficient scorer, but stats show that's he's one of the better defenders on the perimeter (team need). He's also one of the better passers out of the SF position (team need). Given these strengths, I think he fits a team concept that would want to emphasize development for younger (and hopefully star) players.
Despite Ariza's skills, he's still not a desirable player on his own. The real prize of any hypothetical trade with NO would be the #10 draft pick, which could be a real boon for Charlotte. I'm always a proponent of picking the best player available, but there are several good options here. Judging from who's likely to be around and what the team needs, I could easily envision the Bobcats drafting Robinson at #2 and picking up a wing scorer like J. Lamb or Ross at #10. True, most of us are believers in Hendo, but this team need shooters and scorers. A draft of Thomas and Lamb would make me a very happy camper.
Wing scoring isn't the only team need, and it's not the only likely option at #10. A player like Drummond, Barnes, or even Beal could potentially fall, and we'd have little reason not to scoop any of these players up at this point in the draft. We could go with another stable big to add front court depth(though I'm not really enamoured with either Henson or Zeller). Perry Jones could easily be sitting around at #10, and while I see a bit of Anthony Randolph in this kid, I think this is a pick where you can get away with drafting based on potential.
Given the plethora of options we'd have a #10, I think one of the smartest moves would be drafting Kendal Marshall. I'm not a fan of college ball really, so please don't accuse me of being a homer on this one. I am a fan of high assists and low turnover numbers. I know drafting the best play maker available may seem to intrude on Walker, but just because they'll play the same position, doesn't mean they won't fit on the same team. Marshall could play the back up role, though he's an eventual starter if he fulfills his potential. At 6'4, he's got enough size to play next to Walker, allowing Kemba to play out of his natural 2 guard skills on offense without necessarily having to guard bigger SGs on defense. A 3 guard rotation of Hendo, Walker, and Mashall gives you defense, passing, and scoring at a quality level.
There's definitely a downside to all this. Ariza's salary is likely more than the Bobcats would want to take on. Another 7.5 million per year over the next 2 seasons, though relatively short term, is no small sum for an under performing young veteran. We lose some financial felxibility over the next 2 seasons, but were we really planning on spending close to the cap anyway? I doubt it. The reality is that the Bobcats can take on Ariza and stay under the cap, while putting an overall better product on the court. Ariza would be better than Maggette (who we could potentially trade mid season since he's expring). He could potentially be a Nick Collison type role player, doing the dirty work and letting the younger talent shine around him. If things work out, Charlotte could probably resign him to a reasonable deal. If not, long-term financial flexibility is not compromised by adding Ariza. The #2 and #10 picks would be better than other draft scenarios. So I'd like it if we explored this option. Who knows what it would take to get it done, but I'm thinking Ariza and the #10 pick for Carroll's expiring and maybe our second round pick. If NO is really in it to shed salary, this could work. I'd even be happy adding another cheap player to the deal. Caroll and Reggie Williams, perhaps.
Trade ideas on sports blogs are fanciful by nature. There's lot's of room for scrutiny for what I've proposed above. So feel free to let me know what you think. Am I missing anything that makes this a bad idea? The Hornets are reportedly willing to do something like this, but do you think a better offer than what Charlotte can give comes along?