By John Reid, The Times Picayune
Shortly after New Orleans Hornets point guard Darren Collison described how Cole Aldrich's defensive presence in the post would be a big help for the Hornets this upcoming season, it was announced they had traded the 11th pick in Thursday night's draft to the Oklahoma City Thunder, along with guard Morris Peterson, for two first-round picks.
The move further proves to Collison that the Hornets are going to be active in exploring potential trades, and he could be the next player sent elsewhere. General Manager Jeff Bower declined to comment Thursday on any trade rumors.
“I don’t know if I’m going to be a Hornet, ” Collison said before meeting with fans at the Hornets’ draft party in Mandeville. “I like it here, but things don’t work out that way. This is a business, and I’m starting to understand it.”
Collison thought he was traded last week to the Indiana Pacers after receiving a voicemail message from a reporter seeking comment about the rumored trade. Collison said he quickly called his agent, who told him he was still with the Hornets.
“I’m not going to lie, it’s a little distracting, ” Collison said. “After a good year, you expect good things to happen. It is what it is, and we have a lot of different issues on the team that we want to fix. I’m certain management is going to fix that. All I can do is focus on myself and whatever happens, happens.”
Collison, who was the Hornets’ first-round pick in 2009, had a fabulous rookie season, averaging 12.7 points and 5.8 assists in 76 games, starting 37 in place of injured three-time All-Star point guard Chris Paul.
There are several teams, including the Pacers, who think Collison can continue to emerge as an effective starter instead of coming off the bench like he will be expected to do playing behind Paul this upcoming season under first-year coach Monty Williams.
Earlier this week, Bower admitted that he had been listening to offers for Paul, but owner George Shinn said they will continue to build the team around Paul.
Paul told ESPN.com that his first choice is to stay in New Orleans, but if the Hornets are not committed to winning and trying to get better so they can contend with the two-time defending champion Lakers, Celtics and the league’s other top teams, then he would be open to a trade.
“This is his team, and the team should go as he wants it to go,” Collison said. “I think it’s kind of disrespectable for him to be in trade rumors because he’s done so much for the community, and he’s done so much for the team and for me personally. Wherever he goes or whatever he does in his future, the team needs to have his support. You’re talking about guys’ lives with moving and making adjustments, but trades are part of the business.”
Despite thinking he might be traded, Collison worked the crowd Thursday night. He took pictures, signed autographs and told fans he looked forward to the upcoming season.
“Hopefully, we can all say (current teammates) that we’re all on the same team, ” Collison said. “But I don’t know if it’s going to work out that way.”