New Orleans Hornets' Chris Paul will undergo arthroscopic surgery for a cartilage tear in his left knee on Monday and could miss one to two months, sources close to Paul told Yahoo! Sports on Sunday night.
That's the devastating news Hornets fans received last night, courtesy of Yahoo! Sports Adrian Wojnarowski yesterday.
With the Hornets dealing their third point guard, Bobby Brown, to the Clippers last week in order to avoid the luxury tax, I don't foresee anything more than a couple of different point guards rotating 10-day contracts until Paul is healthy enough to rejoin the Hornets.
Since I don't envision many established out of work players (Mike Wilks, Antonio Daniels, Shaun Livingston, etc.) to take what will amount to almost certainly be nothing more than two 10-day contracts, it seems very likely that Darren Collison's new backup will be a freshly plucked guard from the D-League.
For you, I'll run down my entire list of D-League options - handily sorted by last name.
Maurice Baker, Dakota (13.8 ppg, 4.6 apg, 6.0 rpg, 2.0 spg, 49% FG, 38% 3pt) - Since this will more than likely be just a couple of 10-day contracts, Baker would no doubt be a good option as he'll be able to come in and run the team without much of adjust period. And, I'll be honest, I have a bit of a soft spot for Baker. That said, I identified him as my best quick fix prospect in the D-League about a month ago and I'm standing by that post. He's a heady veteran that rarely makes the wrong play and won't try to do too much with the basketball. Since I'd essentially be writing what I wrote in those two links, just go read about him there.
JamesOn Curry, Springfield Armor (15.5 ppg, 7.3 apg, 4.1 rpg, 48% FG, 44% 3pt) - Well, Curry has already been called-up once this season, though it was by the Clippers and they released him from his 10-day contract as soon they acquired Brown. He's shooting well and has a name, but I don't see many positives in Curry. That said, I'm not sure Jeff Bowers has had much time to scout the D-League with the added duty of coaching the team as well, meaning a Curry call-up could once again be occuring. Unfortunately, however, for all of the wrong reasons.
Dontell Jefferson, Utah Flash (18.0 ppg, 5.7 apg, 3.9 rpg, 43% FG, 33% 3pt) - Jefferson has been the top point guard prospect since rejoining the D-League after the cut him in the preseason. The things Jefferson has going for him are his defense, his size (6'5") and his, albeit brief, NBA experience as a call-up for 's last season. If the guy can get minutes as a rookie for , he can obviously play. Jefferson is not the greatest shooter in the D-League, but he excels at getting to the foul line, mostly via the pick-and-roll. Regardlesss of his recent offensive issues, DJ's defense has always been his calling card. While his D-League numbers are faltering a bit, he does have NBA talent and looked a bit like his old self in Utah's blowout victory last night.
Russell Robinson, Maine Red Claws (16.0 ppg, 3.9 apg, 2.9 rpg, 42% FG, 36% 3pt, 2.2 spg) - Robinson is probably best (only?) remembered for running the offense of Kansas' 2008 Championship team. I wouldn't consider him a front-runner for this job, but after his game last night (20 points, 11 assists and 8 steals), I can't really justify not including him. His assist numbers are low because his former team, the Reno Bighorns, used as a bit of a point forward, leading Robinson to more or less be a defensive stopper and 3-point gunner. While I didn't mind him in that role, he's going to have to play the point in the NBA, so the move was obviously needed. Why was he traded? Well, rumor was attitude problems, but that could have just as well stemmed from Farmer.
, Tulsa 66ers (19.6 ppg, 7.0 apg, 4.6 rpg, 2.0 spg, 50% FG, 34% 3pt) - While I was quick to write Mustafa (I refuse to refer to anyone but Tupac as ‘Shakur') off earlier this season, every time I watch him, I become more impressed. He's an efficient scorer, an above the rim finisher, and has held together the 66ers very fluid roster. Considering he's shooting over 50% from the field, getting better from beyond the arc and has greatly improved his free-throw shooting this month, I don't really know what the NBA teams would be looking for that he isn't currently bringing to the table. On defense, Shakur averages two steals per game and ranks as a 'very good' defensive player according to Synergy. The Hornets could do much worse than call-up Shakur. Shakur played in the Vegas Summer League for the and this preseason with the , showing that he's NBA-caliber if my write-up didn't lead you to that conclusion.
Curtis Stinson, Iowa Energy (15.3 ppg, 9.9 apg, 5.6 rpg, 47% FG, 19% 3pt, 2.3 spg) - Considering Paul was shooting 42% from beyond the arc this season, I'm not sure that Stinson's 19% shooting touch would be an ideal replacement. Stinson also leads the league in turnover's per game and technical fouls, so those are the negatives. The positives may outweigh the negatives, though, even if it's only by the slimmest of margins. Stinson leads the league in assists and is running the top team in the D-League as his Energy are out to a 21-6 start. As far as his defense goes - his steal numbers are good, but I wouldn't rank him among the top point guards in the D-League. He can get under an opposing players skin though, which should probably be taken under consideration if for no other reason than enabling me to talk about his attitude a bit more.