NBA Trade Deadline: Sacramento Kings and New Orleans Hornets Swap Carl Landry and Marcus Thornton

From ESPN:

“The Sacramento Kings and New Orleans Hornets finalized a deal that will send forward Carl Landry to New Orleans in exchange for guard Marcus Thornton and cash considerations.”

It looks an awful lot like the Hornets are going the Cleveland Cavaliers route, and not the way the Denver Nuggets or Utah Jazz handled things, with their superstar Chris Paul. Paul is making noises about not staying in New Orleans after next year when his contract ends, so the Hornets are desperately trying to build a contender around him before then so he stays. That was the impetus for this deal, let’s look more closely:

New Orleans Hornets Outlook:

The Hornets bench has been terrible all year. This has been made worse by injuries to frontcourt starter Omeka Okafor. Landry, while undersized, is an excellent scorer and rebounder who absolutely eats up second team forwards. He makes the team much more dangerous when the starters are out, although at the cost of the only other really effective reserve scorer.

Landry is also a free agent after this year, but one presumes the Hornets will keep him. Along with being able to pay best due to Bird Rights, and the fact that he’ll have a role in which he can thrive, Landry will likely stay put.

Still, while this helps, the Hornets are a middle of the pack team and need much more than a Carl Landry to compete. If Chris Paul does leave, Thornton is a far more useful piece than Landry, especially since if David West leaves this offseason as a free agent, Landry is back to being a starting power forward, a role he is not suited for.

Sacramento Kings Outlook

Thornton adds scoring punch in the long term to the Kings bench. While they are thinner up front, they weren’t exactly dominant inside to begin with and now actually feature a scorer with a scorer’s mentality on the bench who can be counted on for more when Tyreke Evans is, as he is frequently, hurt.

Thornton is a clear bench player for the Kings. He’s a shooter who needs the ball to be effective, but Evans and rookie Demarcus Cousins control the ball in the first unit and are a potentially fearsome duo if they figure out the team game. Thornton can come in and make sure there isn’t a huge offensive dropoff from the starters and, in that role, he can clearly thrive.

A restricted free agent after the year, Thornton is very likely to re-sign due to the Kings offer to match. As such, he projects as a good long-term piece for the team looking to return to contention, and at the sacrifice of a half-season of Landry, is a great move.

Final Thoughts:

The Hornets continue to make small moves and delude themselves into thinking they’re a title contender and Paul will stay, when in actuality Landry is a good, but minor step in their quest to retain Paul and get the NBA Title.

The Kings, meanwhile, made a shrewd move to add a long-term bench piece that can step in for more due to injury. This kind of move at this kind of price will, with good coaching and teamwork (which the team currently lacks) get the Kings back to contention, whether in Sacramento, Anaheim, or elsewhere.

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