The New Orleans Hornets have a lot of questions to answer this offseason, and they will begin to get some answers during the 2012 NBA lottery.
If the Hornets come up with the number one pick on May 30, they will draft Kentucky power forward Anthony Davis.
If they don't, and pick say, fourth, New Orleans could have the opportunity to select Connecticut center Andre Drummond.
Davis should be an immediate contributor. The questions marks are few with him.
Drummond is more of a project who has a very raw offensive game. He can rebound and block shots but he considered one of the biggest risks among the potential lottery picks.
If either is in a Hornets uniform, center Emeka Okafor may not be.
Last season, injuries limited Okafor to 27 games. He averaged 9.9 points and 7.9 rebounds per game.
Okafor's pay ($28 million over the final two years of his contract) do not match his production. He could be packaged in a trade or fall victim to the "amnesty clause" which would allow the team to waive Okafor and not have his salary count toward the salary cap or luxury tax.
Chris Kaman (13 points, 7.7 rebounds in 29 minutes per game last season) is an unrestricted free agent and likely a coveted big man will sign with a contending team.
The Hornets also have big money invested in forward Trevor Ariza, who went to the bench for the last 10 games of the season. Ariza is owed $15 million over the next two seasons.
In a interview Sunday, Hornets head coach Monty Williams said he benched Ariza to give playing time to a pair of inexperienced forwards, Al-Farouq Aminu and Xavier Henry.
Said Williams, "It's hard to find out about a guy when you played him five to seven minutes and then took him out."
Behind the scenes, the Hornets are infatuated with Kentucky small forward Michael-Kidd Gilchrist. They love his ability to explode in the open floor, his leadership and his defensive prowess.
If Kidd-Gilchrist is a Hornet, Ariza very likely won't be.
The Hornets biggest offseason acquisition could be a player already on their team.
The club was unsuccessful last winter in signing guard Eric Gordon to a long term extension. Gordon will be a restricted free agent, meaning New Orleans can match any offer he receives.
Williams said he thinks Gordon wants to remain in New Orleans.
"He loves being the featured guy for the first time in his career, and he knows I have a lot of confidence in him," Williams explained.
Point guard is an area of real need.
Jarrett Jack is more of a shoot-first guard who could excel with the reduced minutes coming off the bench.
In the meantime, Williams said he will stick to his core philosophy of preferring big players who can defend. In the lottery, he said the Hornets might pass on a player, no matter how talented, who is considered a liability defensively.
"Everybody wants shooting," said Williams. "But we don't want to bring in someone who doesn't play hard and doesn't defend."
Williams added, "If you have guys who play hard every night, and defend, anything can happen."
New owner Tom Benson will have to be patient as the Hornets continue to reshape their roster and perhaps add a pair of lottery picks to the mix.
The Hornets could also trade one of those two picks for veteran help.
It is up to Williams and general manager Dell Demps to make the correct moves in an offseason. Fortunately, the Hornets have the resources to get better, quickly.
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