Four days before their regular season opener, the Hornets continued to make improvements to their roster tonight, acquiring point guard Jerryd Bayless in a trade with the Portland Trail Blazers. The Blazers received a conditional, future first-round pick. It’s the second deal in less than a week that was consummated with a Western Conference that has significant ties to either New Orleans first-year GM Dell Demps or new head coach Monty Williams. Prior to being hired by the Hornets in June, Williams spent the previous five seasons as a Portland assistant coach on Nate McMillan’s staff, meaning he has directly coached Bayless in both of the player’s NBA seasons.
Bayless was a highly-touted player when he entered the NBA in 2008 after a standout college career at Arizona. A lottery pick, Bayless was chosen 11th overall by Indiana and then sent to the Blazers in a draft-night deal. The 6-foot-3, 200-pound guard received sporadic playing time in Portland, with his opportunities to contribute at times limited due to the Blazers’ backcourt depth. After appearing in 53 games and logging 654 minutes during his rookie season of 2008-09, Bayless’ totals in those categories expanded to 74 and 1,304 last season.
The 22-year-old started 11 games for Portland in 2009-10, partly due to injuries to All-Star guard Brandon Roy. In three games vs. New Orleans last season, Bayless netted a total of 29 points in roughly 48 minutes of action, an example of his quick-strike scoring ability. Bayless also had a 31-point game during a Dec. 23 victory at San Antonio, along with three other games in which he notched 20-plus points.
The addition of Bayless will have immediate repercussions on the Hornets’ roster. On Friday, Williams said the decision had not been made whether anyone from the current group would be cut, meaning New Orleans might keep 15 players. With Bayless added to the mix, there are now 16 players on the roster, but an NBA team can only keep 15 at the Monday evening deadline, so at least one current member would need to be waived.