Mar 28, 2012; Oakland, CA, USA; New Orleans Hornets shooting guard Marco Belinelli (8) during a stoppage in play against the Golden State Warriors during the fourth quarter at Oracle Arena. New Orleans defeated Golden State 102-87. Mandatory Credit: Jason O. Watson-US PRESSWIRE
Depending on what the Washington Wizards do with Andray Blatche and Rashard Lewis, they could have around $12 million of salary-cap space to spend this summer. It remains to be seen if the Wizards actually use it or bank it towards the 2013 class, but in any event, there are a number of free agents that could help the team's push into playoff contention. We'll take a look at several of those options in this running series. Next up: Marco Belinelli.
Team: New Orleans Hornets
Type: Unrestricted free agent, and a guy who played on the qualifying offer last year. History says he's gone from New Orleans.
This past year: Was a solid, if not spectacular iron man for a Hornets team that lacked talent, but always played hard. Without Chris Paul, his shooting efficiency took a hit, especially his three-point shooting, which fell from a spectacular 41 percent to merely a solid 38 percent. However, he always played hard and consistently, prompting Hornets coach Monty Williams to call him a "monster" and one of his "favorite people" to coach in an interview with Sports Illustrated's Zach Lowe.
Why he's fit in well: He's a solid perimeter shooter that can space the floor for John Wall. In the past, he was prone to poor shot selection, but he's curbed that habit under Williams in New Orleans. Seeing as he shot much better playing with a ball-dominant point guard in his first year in New Orleans than without one in his second year, I think Wall could get the most out of him.
He's also surprisingly lethal on three-pointers in transition, shooting 48.8 percent on those shots this year and 49.4 percent last year, according to MySynergySports.com. With Wall pushing the ball and kicking out to open three-point shooters so much, this is a really valuable skill.
Why he might not: He's not a very good defensive player, nor is he especially dynamic as a playmaker. He's decent at running pick and roll to get his own shot, but his assist rate is pretty low and he doesn't get to the basket very much. David Locke, the great Utah Jazz broadcaster, made a really good point in a video chat yesterday: it's hard for NBA teams to keep shooters on the floor if they're so inept elsewhere. There's a concern that Belinelli's weaknesses often take away from his strength as a shooter.
Likely price tag: I think he had be had for half the mid-level.
Verdict: Belinelli wouldn't be my first choice, but he's an excellent cheap fall-back option, along with someone like Carlos Delfino. If the Wizards don't draft Bradley Beal and get outbid for someone like George Hill, O.J. Mayo or Courtney Lee, you could do worse as a backup plan than Belinelli.