With a little bit of luck and some shrewd moves, the New Orleans Hornets have quickly rebuilt itself into one of the more formidable young squads in the NBA. A lot of that has to do with the team’s general manager, Dell Demps.
Demps had arranged for the Hornets to get Luis Scola, Kevin Martin, Lamar Odom and Goran Dragic in a Chris Paul trade to the Lakers but that trade was ultimately thwarted, as you probably know. The Hornets ended up getting Eric Gordon, Al-Farouq Aminu and a first round pick for Paul, but Demps saved his best work for the offseason.
Demps completed an incredibly important trade with Washington to clear some much needed cap space off the books by sending Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza for Rashard Lewis and another draft pick. Lewis was bought out, giving them the cap space they needed to keep Gordon (a restricted free agent) and go after another building block piece.
New Orleans won the draft lottery and picked 10th overall via the Paul trade and hit home runs with both selections. Anthony Davis is going to be a franchise cornerstone for at least a decade and Austin Rivers is going to be a dynamic NBA player for quite some time. As part of the Lewis trade, Demps drafted rotation player (and Davis’ teammate) Darius Miller, who plays strong defense and can shoot the lights out.
With that added cap space gained by the Ariza/Okafor trade and the Lewis buyout, Demps completed a four-year, $36 million sign and trade with Orlando for Ryan Anderson, only giving up Gustavo Ayon in the process.
So Demps was able to draft and acquire an impressive nucleus of players without getting a lot of acclaim. Don’t worry, there will be plenty of time to praise him during New Orleans’ run of excellence with this team.