Tag: Brad Miller

Draft Hornets Basketball

The Inbounds: A Hive In Construction; How to Protect Anthony Davis With Robin Lopez


Hang on to your monitors, I’m going to get through the rest of this column without mentioning the busted CP3-to-the-Lakers trade. You ready? Break!

When the Hornets agreed to terms with the Suns and Wolves in a three-way trade Sunday night, it wasn’t anything that was going to be bust over Ichiro Hamel’s new deal A-Rod breaking his hand. It was a minor deal. But it was yet another example of what has become the modus operandi of Dell Demps this offseason. It’s an understated move with positional variability which sacrifices neither cap space or crucial assets.

Here’s how quickly these things shift. Had the Suns just recommitted the money to Robin Lopez, who has never established himself as the center Phoenix needs, but has consistently scraped the ceiling of legitimacy enough to keep people interested, it probably would have been panned. Now, the Hornets reached good value on Lopez at three-years, $15 million according to Yahoo Sports, but part of that value is inherently due to what a legit center means for New Orleans, versus what it means for Phoenix.

The Suns, with Marcin Gortat, didn’t need to overpay for Lopez. (After all, they’d already overpaid for Michael Beasley, badum-ching.) They needed a little extra money going forward and to dump Hakim Warrick’s deal. It would have been a better move had they not already gone on a spending spree to try and remake the team immediately after Steve Nash’s departure and been more patient, but moving dead money long-term for short-term dead money (Brad Miller’s retired contract) isn’t a bad thing. It’s a good thing.

But the Hornets? They needed Lopez. They needed a center, and they needed to not overpay for a center. Lopez gives them everything they need. He’s a fill-in, a decent starter for a lottery team, a player who could surprise everyone and make the leap but if he doesn’t, you’re not drowning at that position. Long-term, there have to be upgrades at every spot but shooting guard and power forward for the Hornets. And that’s fine. They’ve got time. But the biggest key to next season for the Hornets is cohesiveness and the development of Anthony Davis.

Since the Hornets liquidated Emeka Okafor along with Trevor Ariza in the deal to clear cap space in a move for buyout-able Rashard Lewis, there has been talk about what it means for Davis’ positional future. Even in an NBA that is hurtling towards positional liquidity like the big-boned kid off the diving board, you can’t simply expect any player to be any position. They still have to have the ability to succeed at any given position’s set of requirements. In the case of center, Davis fails several smell tests. He’s incredibly long, but razor thin, it’s going to take years for his frame to catch up with his length, and there’s no guarantee that will happen at all, though muscle training will only make him more versatile and dangerous. I like to put this in perspective by saying that Michael Kidd Gilchrist has a substantial weight advantage on Davis. Think about that.

This isn’t to question Davis’ ability to succeed, far from it. We’re on the verge of seeing one of the truly most unique and impactful defensive players of the past ten years make his debut, I believe, and Davis’ talents can make up fora great many physical mass issues. But it’s crucial that the Hornets put him in a position to succeed right away, and depending on him to handle guys with considerably more muscle weight. It’s fine to speak to the lack of talent at the center position, but if you give a big guy the ball in the post with someone he can slam his shoulder into and create separation, there’s going to be scoring. More importantly, though, there’s going to be damage to the smaller player as the impact alone will wear on and injure a player like Davis having to play down in position to that degree.

It’s best put this way. The Lopez move, along with re-signing Jason Smith, adding Ryan Anderson and throwing in Hakim Warrick means that Davis won’t be slotted at the five, and will be best placed in a position to use his singular talents, as I always felt were best expressed here:


With Davis as unstoppable pterodactyl, there are a great many things Monty Williams can employ with Lopez along. While the rest of the league is gearing small-ball line-ups, the Hornets can throw out a big lineup with Ryan Anderson, Davis, and Lopez that doesn’t surrender much in the way of pick-and-roll containment or perimeter length. Anderson’s defense needs help defenders behind him, and Lopez will require double-team help if faced against a post player who can dribble and chew gum at the same time, and absolutely, there will be times when Davis is just a rookie getting schooled.

But it puts Davis in the best position to succeed.

It’s not that Davis can’t spend time at the five. He should. It’ll be good for him to learn about post position in the NBA, challenging guys on-ball with frame advantages that prevent him from being able to block it, and will allow him to give weak-side help off that previously-mentioned weak center class, where he should be electric. But it’s important that Davis not be faced with covering for the roster issues of a team in a rebuild. The Hornets will have positional weakness, but they have to protect Davis from those. Some tough love is good for him. Breaking his spirit and body with a set of positional demands that put too much physical and emotional strain on him is not a good plan for development.

The Hornets will still run plenty of small-ball lineups. Anderson and Davis should see substantial time on the floor together, and should a center come available wherever the Hornets draft next year, you have to imagine they’ll be examining that player, along with the best available point guard (Austin Rivers and Eric Gordon on the same team is a whole other boondoggle). You can expect to see Davis and Warrick, Davis and Smith, Anderson and Smith, and a more traditional Anderson and Lopez, which gives them an opening night rotation down low if Davis isn’t ready yet. But Lopez is going to get the job done next to Davis, and on the list of players who you look at and think they may be able to take a leap in production, he’s on there. He could wind up being a steal for the Hornets. A hidden element in the NBA as of late has been the development timelines at different positions. Point guards blossom early, wings sometime around 24 to 25, and bigs closer to 27. Lopez will be 26 in the last year of his deal, and may be giving the team an idea of what he can do. He fits both as a place-holder and a possible long-term investment.

Like I said, subtle, quiet, and important, the Dell Demps offseason.

Now about where the Hornets would be if Stern hadn’t blocked that trade…

Minnesota now may be frontrunner to land Kirilenko

Turkey Basketball Euroleague Final Four

We told you Tuesday that Brooklyn was making a push to get the services of Andrei Kirilenko, who spent last season with CSKA Moscow but wants to return to the NBA.

But Brooklyn is out now out of the running, tweets Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports. Not a shock because while the Nets could have Deron Williams trying to recruit, they also could only offer the veteran minimum.

The new front-runner appears to be the Minnesota Timberwolves, Woj tweets.

Minnesota is part of a three-team deal deep in discussion that sends Robin Lopez and Hakim Warrick to New Orleans, Phoenix would get Wesley Johnson and a 1st round pick, and the Timberwolves would get the contract of Brad Miller (who is about to retire) and some filler.

What that trade does for Minnesota is clear out cap space, allowing the Timberwolves to offer more money to Kirilenko.

Kirilenko would come off the bench in Minnesota as a change of pace behind Kevin Love. He also could play beside Love in a small lineup.

In the mean time, Kirilenko is playing on the Russian national team in the London Olympics.

Nothing is set here, lots of dominoes have to fall. But this seems to be happening.

Report: Robin Lopez about to be sent to Hornets in 3-team trade

Phoenix Suns v Los Angeles Lakers

The Suns have been shopping Robin Lopez around this summer — with the emergence of Marcin Gortat as the guy they want at the five, Lopez became a tradable asset.

They apparently have found a home for him in the Big Easy, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports and the NBC Sports Network.

Hornets, Suns, Wolves are nearing agreement on a 3-way deal that would send Robin Lopez to the Hornets in a sign-and-trade, sources tell Y!

Along with Lopez, Suns would send Hakim Warrick to Hornets. Minny would send Wesley Johnson and a 1st round pick to the Suns, sources say.

There is another shoe to drop here, we’re not sure what Minnesota gets out of this. Woj says part of the package is the contract of the retiring Brad Miller, plus Jerome Dyson and draft picks. They will want more for giving up a former lottery pick (Johnson was No. 4 overall) and a future pick.

I like this for the Hornets. Anthony Davis is the future inside, but this gives coach Monty Williams options. He can play Davis at the four next to Lopez, or play Davis at center and have newly-signed Ryan Anderson as the stretch four. Warrick is a decent backup.

The Suns are rebuilding a first round pick has value to them. Johnson gets a fresh start on a team that has minutes to give, which is all he can ask for.

Minnesota waives Martell Webster, trades Brad Miller

Brad Miller

Minnesota continues to clear out some cap space, making plenty of room for Nicolas Batum to sign a four-year, $46 million offer sheet (something he cannot do until Sunday, despite other reports out there). Then the Blazers will match it because they want to keep him and have been very clear about it from Day 1. But the Wolves are dragging this out in hopes that Portland will relent and do a sign and trade. Which is going to happen right after my date with Kate Hudson.

But I digress, the Wolves are making moves.

They have waived Martell Webster on Friday, clearing $5.7 million off their cap. Webster never panned out to be the player the Blazers hoped for, and last year’s 6.9 points per game on 42 percent shooting was underwhelming. That said, someone will sign him as a free agent to be a backup guard.

Minnesota also traded Brad Miller to the New Orleans Hornets for a couple future second round draft picks. Miller is likely to retire anyway.

Batum cannot sign his offer sheet until after Webster clears waivers at 5 p.m. Sunday.

Lee, Mayo Timberwolves targets after Batum offer matched

O.J. Mayo, Andrew Bynum

Minnesota used its amnesty provision on Darko Milicic, they are about to buy out Brad Miller and Martell Webster.

They have cleared the way to make a big four-year, $45 million offer sheet to Portland’s Nicolas Batum. They tried to pressure Portland into a trade and that didn’t work, so they are going to call Portland’s bluff and make them match the offer. Batum is expected to sign it Thursday.

Portland will match. They’ll take their three days to do it, but they will match.

Then what for the T-Wolves? Plan B, says Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune.

(Team owner Glen) Taylor said the first priority isn’t necessarily a wing player but “We’ve got to get some big guys.”

They’ve been pursuing Boston restricted free-agent center Greg Stiemsma and Lakers power forward Jordan Hill and it now looks like those bigs will be the priority over a wing. As for those wings, their best options are, in this order:
1. Courtney Lee
2. O.J. Mayo
3. Andre Iguodala

Lee and Mayo are free agents. Iggy would require a trade with Philly and they are going to want a lot in return.

Just some names to watch as the Timberwolves try to put pieces around an impatient Kevin Love.