Earlier this week, the Charlotte Hornets traded guard Gary Neal and a second-round pick for Mo Williams and Troy Daniels. Williams will be an immediate upgrade for the Hornets at point guard as they have been starting Brian Roberts since their star point guard Kemba Walker went down with a torn left meniscus.
Walker hasn’t played since a January 23 matchup with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Roberts has started the eight games since then and while the Hornets have managed to tread water, going 4-4 since the Walker injury, Roberts has been underwhelming, averaging just 8.2 ppg and 3.7 apg since taking over the starting role.
With the timetable for a Walker return still remaining uncertain, and the Hornets wanting to stay afloat in the playoff race, panic began to set in for Charlotte. The response: Williams in a Hornets uniform.
What It Means for Detroit
Although Williams has yet to play a game for the Hornets, the acquisition further dims the outlook for the Pistons as they make a second half push towards the playoffs.
The Pistons have come back down to earth of late, losing six of their last ten, in large part due to some porous defense. But there was still hope they could make a run, as the teams in front of them in the standings were all dealing with injuries as well.
As things stand today, the Miami Heat, Brooklyn Nets, Boston Celtics and the Hornets all have a leg up with the Pistons in the standings.
The Celtics should be the least of their worries as Danny Ainge is rumored to still be on the lookout for more future draft picks and while the Nets have talent, they’ve been one of the most inconsistent teams in the league. It wouldn’t be a shock to anyone if they became sellers at the deadline or even bought out some of their big contract players like Kevin Garnett.
That leaves the Heat and the Hornets in front of the Pistons. Detroit currently sits two games behind both of these teams at the All-Star break but chances are, after the addition of Williams, the Hornets will find their stride once again and continue to ride Al Jefferson until Walker returns from injury.
Miami is an interesting case. The face of their franchise, Dwyane Wade, has been nagged by injuries all season and breakout star Hassan Whiteside has recently dealt with a few bangs in recent weeks causing him to miss a couple games. The leadership and experience that this team possesses leads one to believe that, if healthy, Miami will earn that final 8th spot in the East.
If Wade and Whiteside can’t stay healthy, the race for 8th seems to be open once again.
But nobody should be counting on injuries and because of that, and the Hornets finding the stopgap they needed, the Pistons playoffs hopes, unfortunately, may be hanging by a thread. Then again, with the Hornets and Pistons set to face off three more times before the regular season concludes, Stan Van Gundy and company may be in control of their own destiny.