Fletcher Mackel would trade this whole #&^!$@! team if he could

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Hornets huddle

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Photo by Jonathan Bachman

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First off, I'd just like to say that I have not had the opportunity to formally talk to Fletcher Mackel like I've had with other New Orleans media members (possibly because I can never tell if it's him or one of his brothers) and that I enjoy his on-air work and his blog. I say all that for fear that what I'm about to say might come off sounding as a cheap shot. Really, this is just an attempt at having an open discourse.

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A discourse about how Mackel needs to come to terms with his addiction to the ESPN NBA Trade Machine.

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I only bring this up because it's been less that a month into this NBA season and Fletch has already proposed three players he thinks the Hornets should trade for this season. He also goes as far as proposing possible Hornets players that could be traded. In case you haven't been following his blog, here's all of the trades he's proposed since the season tipped off (in chronological order):

  1. LA Clippers' Marcus Camby for Mike James and either Hilton Armstrong or Julian Wright.
  2. New Jersey Nets' Vince Carter and Sean Williams for Mike James, Hilton Armstrong, Julian Wright and Morris Peterson.
  3. Golden State's Monta Ellis for ???

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Listen, I get speculation and hypothetical scenarios are some of the best things about sports. Just coming up with all the best roster moves for your team and imagining that perfect trade that puts them over the top is just one of many ways that keep us invested as fans. It's no wonder fantasy sports and sports video games are so popular – they each give you an avenue to build the perfect roster and watch as your perfectly-crafted team becomes a perennial champion. It should also be noted that, during the offseason, Mackels' hypotheticals are a fun diversion from the fact that teams aren't actually playing.

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But, during the season, can we at least have hypothetical that involve truly desirable players or at least truly viable trades? It's doubtful anyone involved with the Hornets (players, coaches, front office or fans) would be honestly excited to trade young, inexpensive talent for a 34-year-old center (Camby) with a $10-million salary or for a perpetual malcontent (Carter) with four years left on his $14.7-million a year contract. As for Ellis, just how could Hornets GM Jeff Bower come close to convincing the Warriors to give up one of their most prized young assets without gutting his team?

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With the Allen Iverson-to-Detroit trade coming just two days into this season, I can understand why some might think that anything and everything is possible. But, sometimes, you have to take a step back and realize that just because ESPN's Trade Machine says it could be done, doesn't mean it should (even hypothetically). The last thing the Hornets need to do is trade away developing talent when they're trying to build a franchise that wants to be a championship contender for the next decade. It's especially important to consider that the Hornets are already $8-million over the salary cap, so both age and salary will play significant roles in who Bower and the rest of the organization will be looking at.

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At the game against Portland on Friday, I had the pleasure of sitting next to SLAM Online's Aggrey Sam who was doing a piece on the Blazers' rookie Nicolas Batum. He pointed out how young and talented Portland is and how the Hornets could use one of their guards to backup Chris Paul. He also opined that, considering his age and salary, Peja Stojakovic could be someone the Hornets will look to move. (The case could also be made for Ryan Bowen being moved and, despite having trade restrictions in his contract, could like the idea of going to a team that will actually, you know, play him. But I digress...)

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Now both Fletch and Aggrey have valid points and every right to make them — just like everyone has every right to agree or disagree with them (or me, for that matter). And I do have to give Mackel lots of credit for seeing that the Hornets championship puzzle is not yet complete and exploring all the different pieces that could help. But it's also important to remember that the season is less than 10 games old and we still have no idea if the Hornets actually need to make any more moves or if they're just in some sort of early-season slump that they'll soon break out of.

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Lastly, we should all remember that these are real people we're dealing with. Even though it's fairly easy to just insert Carter or Ellis into the Hornets lineup while using a trade machine or playing NBA '09 on your XBox 360, it's a whole different story when you consider what would happen if you did it in real life. Mainly, if you trade Mo Pete or Melvin Ely or Hilton Armstrong or Mike James, this team just won't be as fun to cover (at least for me, anyway).

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