NBA Roundtable

Hornets Re-Sign Sean Marks

In Free Agency on August 29, 2009 at 12:20 pm

Nola.com reports

The New Orleans Hornets re-signed veteran center/forward Sean Marks, bringing their roster total to 14, one below the league maximum and a number the team carried all of last season.

Marks, who turned 34 Sunday, is believed to have signed a one-year deal for the veteran minimum, which last season was about $1.045 million.

Hornets GM Bower + Head Coach Scott added these words

“We really liked how he continued to improve as the season went on,” Bower said of Marks, “and he played a valuable role for us off the bench and performed very well in some key games for us. We liked what he can do for us on the floor and his approach to his role and his responsibilities on the team.”

“Sean was a big part of our success last season, and he showed that he could be called upon to play a larger role when necessary,” Coach Byron Scott said in a statement released by the team. “I look forward to having him back as a reliable big-man option.”

As for further roster moves:

Hornets General Manager Jeff Bower said Thursday the Hornets could head into training camp at the end of next month with the current roster.

“We carried 14 the last few years,” said Bower, “so we’re comfortable at that number. We’ll reserve judgment until we get through training camp.”

Thoughts

A good signing by the Hornets. Sean Marks is a serviceable player, a solid fifth big in the rotation, and one of the better remaining big man options. He also has proven himself in their system and helped the team last season, so a proven commodity.

Hornets Big Man Rotation

New Orleans now has five big men:

  • Starting center — Emeka Okafor
  • Starting power forward — David West
  • Reserve — Ike Diogu
  • Reserve — Sean Marks
  • Reserve — Hilton Armstrong

The Hornets two starting big man are clearly very good players and a good strength for the club. However, their bench looks weak.

Ike Diogu is going to be the biggest variable to their team. I’m not his biggest fan, due to his defense and his style of play as a role player, but he has been very productive in the minutes he’s received so far in his NBA career. The Hornets badly need him to be a reliable first big man off their bench, and to be a good 8ppg + 4.5rpg type player in 18 minutes or so a night.

From there, the Hornets can probably get away with either Marks or Armstrong, likely Marks, as their fourth big man in 5-10 minutes a night. Neither will have enough minutes to do any serious harm to the team, especially during the playoffs when the team can up the minutes of the other three players ahead of them if necessary.

Now, if Diogu doesn’t come good … then the Hornets are in major trouble … because my count their three reserve big men are all best suited to being a fifth big in the rotation, which would leave their bench very short on quality big man minutes from it’s reserves. If that were to happen, the Hornets best option would be to play James Posey more minutes as a power forward and limit the other bigs court time.

Overall, the Hornets backup bigs look like an unimpressive bunch … a poor group. Keep an eye on Diogu though, he’ll be the one that decides whether they’re poor or outright atrocious. And if the Hornets are really lucky, their backup bigs could be mediocre or slightly above average, if Diogu could give them Powe-like service next season.

Final Thought

I’m disappointed that the Hornets didn’t find a way to land a better group of backup bigs. It’s hard to say how much of an effort they made, simply because their GM is so secretive and consequently there are hardly any leaks, but it does look a bit suspect.

This is the third summer in a row where the Hornets have had a massive problem on their bench with their backup big men and failed to fill the hole. If they had of had better backup bigs two years ago, they may have beaten San Antonio in that playoff series.

I thought the free agency backup bigs were somewhat weak this offseason. There wasn’t much talent available in the minimum to LLE range, which is all New Orleans could reasonably afford after their spending from recent seasons.

Still, there’s a couple of guys that I would have preferred to have seen them go after — Rasho Nesterovic, Leon Powe, Joe Smith, Channing Frye … and to a lesser degree … Fabricio Oberto, Ben Wallace, Shelden Williams — but they never seemed to be after any of those players. Instead choosing to go with younger players like Diogu and sticking with Armstrong, and tried and trusted Marks. I think that was a mistake.

I also would have liked to have seen the Hornets been more aggressive in the trade market by trying to trade one or two of their wings for a better backup big, someone who they could rely on to fill that first big off the bench role next season. They didn’t seem to do that either. I think Julian Wright (a very good prospect who doesn’t fit their style of play) + midlevel contract wing, like Mo Pete or Butler, could have brought the Hornets a good backup big man while keeping enough talent on the wings (Posey + Thornton) to survive.

I wouldn’t be too harsh on the lack of a trade though, because perhaps the financial considerations of the Rasual Butler salary dump were absolutely necessary. The Hornets did seem willing to enter the season with that large payroll at the start of the summer, so maybe it wasn’t absolutely necessary but it’s impossible to tell right now.

Overall, I’m not impressed with their solutions to their backup bigs problems. I would have liked them to have gone in a different direction.

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  1. Dave,

    West + Okafor are solid.

    I have Armstrong as their 3rd Big. On his own, Hilton may not be that good … but, when you work him in a three-way rotation:

    West + Okafor
    Armstrong + Okafor
    West + Armstrong

    he becomes a slightly better player, in my book … although, still not good enough to compete with the best teams in the NBA.

    Diogu is the wildcard, as you’ve correctly identified.

    If Ike can establish himself as a legit 3rd Big … i.e. jumping over Armstrong … then, the Hornets are not going to get hurt THAT badly in their front-court.

    Sean Marks is an okay 5th Big … but, I would have much preferred Johan Petro, in this role for the Hornets [as a point of comparison].

  2. Dve,

    Additional info about the perception of Jeff Bower towards his current roster.

    Of their new adds, Marcus Thornton … although under-sized for a heavy minute OG … is the one that I like the best. IMO, he is capable of becoming a very good scorer in the pro game, coming off the bench for the Hornets.

  3. Thanks Khandor … I’m not sure I agree with Bower on the roster, they look different rather than better. They’re still in the same ball park that were in last season.

    I think Peja Stojakovic will be the main key to their season. They badly need him to get back to his 17-18ppg ways, in order to give that offense the third scorer that it badly needs. That’ll go a long way to improving them.

    After Peja … Diogu + Julian Wright look like interesting variables which could swing things.

    New Addition

    The player I’m most excited about the Hornets adding is Darren Collison. I think he has the potential to become an elite role player at the point guard position down the road, and the current ability to be one of their better bench players next season.

    I think he’s going to be a good upgrade over Antonio Daniels.

  4. Dave,

    Agreed on Collison, who I liked a great deal when he first began at UCLA.

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