NBA AM: Hornets Looking To Deal Tenth Pick, Okafor
New Orleans Hornets Open For (Trade) Business? According to NBA.com writer Shaun Powell, the New Orleans Hornets will entertain trade offers for their No. 10 overall pick in this year’s draft if the buying team is willing to take on the contracts of either Trevor Ariza or Emeka Okafor in return.
The Hornets have two first round picks in the top ten this year, the No. 1 overall and the tenth pick. It is widely believed the team will use the first pick on former University of Kentucky star Anthony Davis.
The Hornets have $36 million in contract commitments already on the books for the 2013 season. The team will also likely match any offers for shooting guard Eric Gordon in free agency this summer. The Hornets are obviously looking to shed even more long term salary as it continues its rebuilding process in the post Chris Paul era. Okafor is owed $28 million through 2014, while Ariza is also owed $15 million over the same timeframe.
This past season Okafor appeared in only 27 games due to various injuries, while Ariza’s production has slipped the past two seasons after New Orleans acquired him in an August of 2010 trade with Houston.
Hornets new team owner Tom Benson prefers the San Antonio Spurs model for success which is predicated on protecting salary cap space and devoting strong resources to the annual draft. With that being the case there is no surprise Okafor and Ariza may have been deemed expendable in the team’s plan moving forward.
“Clearly, if you were going to look at one team from a small market … San Antonio would be that type of team,” Benson told John De Shazier of The Times Picayune. “They have won four world championships. They have a rich history of winning both on and off the court. So, yes, they would be a team we would pattern ourselves after.”
The Hornets finished this season 21-45, worst in the Western Conference.
Meet Hollis Thompson: Former Georgetown standout Hollis Thompson enters the pre-draft circuit without much fanfare after posting averages of 12.8 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game last season as a junior.
Most scouts are projecting Thompson to go somewhere in the late second round of this year’s draft or in some instances possibly undrafted. But one thing working in favor of the small forward is his outstanding jumper and as you know jump shooting in the league still comes at a premium. Thompson shot 43 percent from behind the collegiate three-point arc last season connecting on 58 out of 135 attempts.
Thompson tells HOOPSWORLD in this exclusive interview that he’s working hard in preparation to take the roster spot of someone who’s currently in the league.
Warriors’ Riley Still Adjusting To New Role: The Golden State Warriors are in a transitional period. The franchise has a relatively new ownership group, will be moving to a new city in the near future and have a new set of roster talent for 2013 headed by center Andrew Bogut.
Another area where the Warriors made organizational changes was in the front office, when co-owner Joe Lacob promoted assistant general Bob Myers to the lead role back in April. Where there is cause there will be effect and the affected party in Lacob’s shakeup was veteran league executive Larry Riley who was reassigned to lead the Warriors’ scouting department.
Riley, who is in Chicago this week for the draft combine, is still adjusting to his new role and readily admits he’d rather still be calling the shots from the general manager chair.
“I’d be disingenuous if I said anything other than there is some real disappointment about not being the general manager anymore,” Riley told Rusty Simmons of the San Francisco Chronicle. “I think the team is set to be pretty good. It took a lot of work to get it to this point, and I’d like to be in the position to enjoy the success. I guess I’m still in a position to be part of it, but it took some time to realize that this is something I can fully embrace.”
Riley knew upfront the Warriors were grooming Myers, a long time player agent, to replace him as GM but thought the transition was still a season or two away – at the very least.
“I’m not exactly sure what the motivation was to make the change at that time,” Riley said. “It was always something that I expected. I had talked to Joe about it, and I had talked to Bob about it. We knew it would take place, but it’s hard to say why it had to happen right then.”
The Warriors kept Riley onboard to lead scouting decisions because of his prior history of being on staffs with draft success. The Warriors will have the No. 7 overall pick in the 2012 draft this month.
In Riley’s twenty plus seasons working in various front office capacities he has worked on staffs who went on to draft players such as Bobby Phills, Vin Baker, Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Mike Bibby, Steve Francis, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson.
Quick NBA Notes
Oklahoma City’s Road To The NBA Finals: Credit where credit is due. The Oklahoma City Thunder were thought by many to be too inexperienced to make a trip to the NBA Finals this year, but games aren’t played on paper or in people’s minds for that matter. The Thunder became the first Western Conference team other than the Dallas Mavericks, Los Angeles Lakers or San Antonio Spurs to reach the NBA Finals since 1998. In an ironic twist, the Thunder defeated all of those franchises for their ticket into the championship series this season.
Miami’s Chris Bosh Not Frustrated With Fourth Quarter Playing Time: Miami HEAT forward Chris Bosh has missed the majority of the postseason nursing an abdominal strain, but returned on Wednesday night to record 9 points and 7 rebounds in just fourteen minutes in the team’s game five lost to the Boston Celtics. Although effective, Miami head coach Erik Spoelstra didn’t play the All-Star during the fourth quarter of the team’s loss which has fueled criticism.
However, Bosh maintained he was perfectly fine with Spoelstra’s rotation and offered support for his coach.
“It’s not frustrating at all,’’ Bosh told Amalie Benjamin of the Boston Globe. “We had the right guys in at the right time. I can’t want everything in my first game back. I feel like I had more to give, but we went with our guys who have been getting the job done for the past two series. Hopefully I’ll be able to contribute a little bit more. But for the most part, we had our chances and we came up short.’’
NBA Chats: There are no NBA chats on the schedule today as Steve Kyler and Joel Brigham are covering the Draft Combine in Chicago this week. You can always find the next chat here: Upcoming NBA Chats. If you are looking for a completed chat, check the Chat Archive.