Sunday, February 10, 2008

I'll take Mike Miller for 3

New Orleans 112 | Memphis 99

Let's face it. No one is really surprised by this win. We had a slight scare when we found out that Tyson still had the flu and Mo Pete was out for... well, we don't know why he was out, but he was. The we remembered that Mo averaged a less-than-whelming 7 points in January (to Peja's 18), and Tyson's absence on the boards probably wouldn't hurt too much now that Darko leads the Grizz's Pau-less big men. And then, after all of that, we remembered we were playing Memphis.

Our boys practically hurled themselves out of the gates, leading the Grizz 16-2 after 6 or 7 minutes. Memphis then proceeded the cut the deficit to 2 before the end of the quarter. The game continued in this manner (Hornets build up a big lead, slowly throw it away, then wake up to start the cycle over) until the fourth quarter when CP3 and company kicked it into high gear. Despite dishing out 16 assists, Paul only notched 2 points on 1 for 10 shooting, making this his lowest point total all season (it should be noted, however, that other than a 6 point [losing] effort against Utah and an 8 point [winning] effort against the Clippers, Paul has scored in double figures in every other game this season). D.West continued to show the world why he was a formidable All-Star selection by putting up a 30/10, and Peja dropped 26 point while going 6 of 12 from beyond the arc. These numbers reinforce what Curry and I have said all season: For the Hornets to win, they need 2 of the starting 5 to put up strong numbers. Done. CP3 takes a night off on points, no problem. Mo Pete drops off the map for a month, piece of cake. As long as someone steps up (and they have been), we're golden.

Which leads to my next topic: wouldn't it be great if could add one more piece to our arsenal to better ensure that someone (or 2 someones) steps up every night? Absolutely. And now that everyone and their mom is trying to make a power play in the West, why not join the fun? I don't think we need to shake up our core, but a slasher/forward/jump-shooter could really bolster our success... or even a dependable big man off the bench so we don't have to rely on the Uncle Bowen at power forward strategy. So who do we go for? My vote goes to Mike Miller. He's a proven threat beyond the arc and is good for 15-20 per night as a starter. Plus, who wouldn't be afraid of a Paul-Miller-Stojakovic-West-Chandler lineup? Ooooh, I just got goosebumps writing that.

(I should note here that, for those of you who know me, I have an inexplicable man-crush on Miller, Kevin Martin, and Matt Barnes. You shouldn't ask questions, you should just go with it. I only mention this because I know some of you are thinking that I only want this trade to happen because of said creepy obsession. But seriously, tell me this trade doesn't make sense... oh wait, I haven't told you who we're giving them.)

According to ESPN's trade machine (a wonderful invention, I might add), any of the following trades would bring Miller to the Hornets and keep both teams under the cap:

a) Rasual Butler, Bobby Jackson
b) Rasual Butler, Morris Peterson
c) Julian Wright, Bobby Jackson
d) Hilton Armstrong, Bobby Jackson

Obviously A would be the best option because it keeps our starting 5 intact. But we have to figure that in Memphis' rebuilding efforts they would obviously want someone who could at least be a respectable starter. B solves this problem, but I have a feeling that Mo Pete's 4 year contract is not that appealing to anyone considering his contributions so far. C and D offer young talent and actually clear more cap room for Memphis. If we went this route, it's simply a question of who Bower's willing to part with and who Memphis would want. I think we'd do better in the long run with Hilton (if we could develop him into a usable big man), but I would hate to see JuJu go. Either option is acceptable if it means bringing Miller to the Crescent City. To seal the deal, I'm pretty sure we'd have to offer a draft pick (first round, this year or next) which, again, is completely acceptable. Both teams win in this scenario. New Orleans gets another quality scorer to help make a deeper playoff push, and Memphis gets cap space, young talent, a contract that will end sooner than Miller's, and a future pick to help them rebuild. Done and done. Of course, given their front-office's ingenious business sensibilities, we could possibly end up with Miller and a future pick for Ryan Bowen and Hugo.

By the way, I think our attendance woes are finally over. Last night's game featured 17,200 people. It was only our second sellout of the season... but it was against Memphis. We can definitely blame the first one on LeBron's presence, but Memphis... really? I think all of those fans came to see their hometown's finest. Unless Rudy Gay is a bigger draw than I'm aware of. Add that to the hype surround next weekend's All-Star game (and the plethora of Hornets involved in the event) and I'd say we're set...

Then again, I have been a fan of New Orleans sports long enough to know that nothing is certain. I'm just hoping that being romantic about the whole thing will actually solve the problem. Ask me how that's going for my life in general. Actually, you should probably just go to the games instead.

1 comment:

Sam said...

Interesting trade idea. My thoughts:

Yes, adding Miller to the starting five would give you some pretty potent offense. The problem is that, unlike in Memphis, where Rudy Gay's athleticism allows him to guard the 2-spot, Miller would be forced to play shooting guard to keep Peja at the three. While Miller is a capable defender at the three, much more so than Peja, his lack of lateral quickness really hurts when forced to play shooting guard. Out West, nearly every team has a fantastic 2, and most of them do much of their damage with speed:

In no particular order:

Brandon Roy (Portland)
Monta Ellis (GS)
Kobe (Lakers)
Kevin Martin (Sacto)
Manu Ginobli (Spurs)
Stackhouse/Terry (Mavricks)
McGrady (Houston)
Maggette (Clippers)
Ronnie Brewer (Utah)
Randy Foye/Rashad McCants (MN)
Iverson/JR Smith (Denver)

Aside from Denver (where Paul could probably guard Iverson and Miller could try to take Anthony Carter) and Dallas (depending on whether Stackhouse or Terry is in the game), every one of those guys would be a nightmare for Miller to cover. Thus, the question becomes whether you think the offensive boost you'd get from Miller is worth the offensive boost other 2's would get from going against Miller. Obviously, Miller's greatest attribute is his 3-point stroke, but the Hornets are already top ten in both 3-pointers made and 3-point percentage, so it's not clear that the Hornet's really need the help. Defensively, in contrast, though the Hornet's hold their opponents to a low ppg (94.5), they're mediocre/poor in opponent fg-percentage (17th) and opponent 3-point percentage (19th), so adding Miller might make a bad thing worse.

One possibility, and an intriguing one at that, is using a zone to hide Miller's/Peja's defensive weaknesses. On the plus side, the Hornet's would have a very tall line-up (especially useful in a zone), Chandler would be able to stay closer to the basket for shot blocking purposes, and Paul would be more free to gamble in the passing lanes. This could, potentially, go a long way towards fixing that sub-par opponent fg-percentage. On the down-side, Chandler staying closer to the basket would mean he's less available to switch on pick and roles, thereby bringing Miller's lateral quickness back into play, Paul might be better used defensively as a ball-hawk on the opponent's best facilitator, and you guys already have a tall line-up anyway, so if zone were a viable option you would have done it already. Most ominously, no team presently or previously has used a zone full time (except MN a few years ago, but you get to play by different rules when you have KG), so zones don't have the best empirical track record.

Ultimately, I think the better option would be to try to get an athletic slasher to take some playmaking pressure off of Paul. Sacramento currently has a glut of young guards and not enough minutes for all of them (I'm thinking of Francisco Garcia, but you might even be able to get John Salmons, who's been surprisingly good). Or, given that you're ok giving up a first round pick, what about sending a first rounder and change to Atlanta for Josh Childress, who's been really good?

Keep up the blog and go Hornets.