While the focus of Saturday’s press conference in New Orleans was on the acquisition of Trevor Ariza, Hornets management stressed that they were also excited to bring in three-year NBA shooting guard Marco Belinelli, in a separate trade with Toronto. I’m working on a lengthier piece for Hornets.com on one of three current Italian players in the NBA (Andrea Bargnani and Danilo Gallinari are the others), but until then, here’s some of what we’ve learned so far about the 24-year-old trade pickup:
How much will Belinelli play in 2010-11?
It’s very difficult at this stage to get an accurate gauge on this, partly because of other potential moves the Hornets are likely to make. At the moment New Orleans only has 11 players on its roster. Since the Hornets have generally carried 14 or 15 players in recent seasons, it means there should be at least three more additions. Monty Williams said Belinelli may vie for the role of starting shooting guard, saying that the job is “wide open” (Marcus Thornton is the only other natural two guard on the roster). But Williams and Demps have also said they may try to acquire another player at the position. Add it up, and it’s possible Belinelli could start, or he could be in a situation where he has to compete with at least two other players for minutes at his primary position. Williams added that there is another scenario in which Ariza could end up as the starting shooting guard. “Whether or not Trevor is going to fill (the starting shooting guard spot), he’s going to have one of (the starting spots),” Williams said. “We’re not quite sure where we’re going to put him (yet).”
Will Belinelli play some minutes at point guard?
It does not sound likely that he’ll get extensive time there, but the front office seems to view it as a genuine option. Hornets GM Dell Demps and Williams both indicated they believe Belinelli should not be stereotyped as simply a shooter who does little else well. “He’s more athletic than people give him credit for,” Williams said. “Watching film on him, he’s a guy who can shoot the ball and handle it. It gives you some options for sure.” Demps also noted Belinelli’s passing and ballhandling abilities. “He can make plays,” Demps said. “I’ve personally been a fan of his skills for a long time. I think he’s more than just a shooter.” In terms of the Hornets’ current lack of a true point guard as a backup, Demps indicated that there is another move coming, whether it’s in free agency or via trade. “Obviously we’ll have to acquire another backup point guard,” Demps said. “It was hard to let Darren (Collison) go, but acquiring Trevor, we’re excited and think he brings a piece that the team needed.” So it’s probable that a veteran point guard will be added to give Chris Paul breathers, as opposed to trying to slide Belinelli over to a spot where he hasn’t played frequently. Williams: “I would hate to call him a point guard, but he’s a wing who can handle (the ball). He’ll be able to take some pressure off of us, as far as handling the ball and running pick-and-rolls.”
What’s Belinelli’s perspective on changing teams?
Currently in Italy, Belinelli has not been quoted yet by any media outlet since the trade, at least from what I can gather. Hornets players must report to New Orleans for training camp by Monday, Sept. 27, at which time he’ll be available to reporters on media day. Demps and Belinelli had a telephone conversation after Wednesday’s trade. “Speaking to him on the phone, he’s thrilled to come to New Orleans,” Demps relayed. “I think the fans here will really appreciate his talents.”