The needs are obvious for the New Orleans Hornets this summer. Match any offer for Eric Gordon and sign or trade for a center.
Gordon has already attracted attention from the Indiana Pacers, Houston Rockets and Phoenix Suns and sources say that at least one other team may be prepared to get involved with him as well.
Fortunately, the Hornets can match any offer made by any team and New Orleans has the resources to get the job done. Expect Gordon to remain a Hornet.
Restricted free agent Roy Hibbert, who had been considered a possible target of the Hornets, is a hot commodity. Portland took no time to offer Hibbert a maximum contract of four years, $58 million on Sunday. SportsIllustrated.com also reports that one other team, not named, has offered Hibbert a max deal as well. Hibbert averaged 12.8 points and 8.8 rebounds in 2011-2012.
Another potential target of the Hornets is restricted free agent Nicolas Batum of Portland. Should the Blazers succeed in getting Hibbert, Batum would well depart, giving New Orleans a real shot at him.
The 6'8, 200-pound Batum is 23-years old. The small forward averaged 13.9 points and 4.6 rebounds for the Blazers last season. Batum shot 39 percent from three-point range, 45 percent from the field and 83 percent from the free throw line. The Blazers made a qualifying offer to Batum on June 26 but various reports say the situation between Batum and Portland has deteriorated in recent days. Minnesota has already offered Batum a four-year, $50 million deal.
Batum's numbers have improved annually since his rookie season. Monty Williams was an assistant at Portland when Batum arrived in 2008 and Williams clearly likes him.
Javale McGee of Denver is a restricted free agent. McGee has athletic ability and upside. The 7'0, 237-pound McGee averaged 11.3 points and 7.8 rebounds while shooting 56 percent from the field last season. The 24-year old played well for the Nuggets after being acquired from the Wizards and he is a priority for Denver to retain so they are likely to match any offer he receives.
Chris Kaman and Carl Landry remain possibilities for New Orleans with Kaman being the more attractive option.
Clearly, New Orleans needs a center with size and some scoring ability to take the pressure off of Anthony Davis, who will not be counted on as a scorer initially.
In addition, the Hornets need a center to play opposing big men, saving Davis the wear-and-tear with his 220-pound frame.
Kaman has the size, the ability to score and pass and familiarity with the franchise. Despite a strange season, he played well for the Hornets.
At one point, Kaman was asked to stay home, away from the team, as it appeared he would be dealt elsewhere. That did not happen. Sheepishly, the team asked him to return. Kaman did so, was very professional and played solid basketball.
He averaged 13.1 points, 7.7 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game while shooting 45 percent from the field. Kaman's scoring was sorely needed so he took a few more shots than you would have liked him to but he can still play. He and Gordon have the same agent in Rob Pelinka. The Pacers and Suns have expressed interest in Kaman.
Landry's agent, Mark Bartelstein, has confirmed to the Times-Picayune that the Hornets have interest in re-signing his client. Landry averaged 12.5 points and 5.1 rebounds for the Hornets last season while shooting 50 percent from the field and 80 percent from the free throw line.
With Davis and Jason Smith, you have a pair of lengthy power forwards. Where would Landry fit in? Could he log valuable minutes at small forward with the right matchups?
Other lesser options at center for New Orleans in free agency could be Kwame Brown, former Hornet Aaron Gray and Ronny Turiaf. Omer Asik, who was a free agent, signed a deal with the Houston Rockets Monday.
The Hornets have the money to work with after buying out Rashard Lewis.
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