So, lets review. With PJ Brown retiring and Scot Pollard on the "don't call us, we won't call you" list, our low post players consist of Perkins (who just had surgery on his chronically injured shoulder) and a couple of undersized power forwards (Powe & Big Baby). Don't get me wrong, I love all three of those guys. I just think that there's a big need for a big man to back up Perkins.
The problem is that quality bigs are hard to find and expensive when you do find them. There's a reason people paid huge money to a lot of stiffs over the years (most of which ended up with the Knicks). Being 7 feet in basketball is a bit like being a southpaw pitcher in baseball. There's always room on the roster for you somewhere.
Danny won't have a lot of cash to throw at a big man. He's most likely going to use the full MLE on Posey (or perhaps Maggette, but I bet he's a Spur by the end of the week). He'll have to look for less than ideal candidates and hope to score big.
For that reason, I really am starting to like the idea of the Birdman (Chris Andersen). Sure, he's got a huge character question mark. I won't pretend to know anything about drug related issues and I don't mean to downplay that in the least. Still, with the caveat of "if he can stay clean" he seems like the best fit for our needs.
For one thing he's still young. I'm sure Danny is looking at guys like Mutumbo and Alonzo, and either would fill the PJ Brown role very nicely if they can stay healthy. But I'd almost rather wait to sign one of those guys (if necessary) later in the year like we did with PJ so we don't wear them out during the regular season.
For another thing, Andersen is good enough to give us a spark off the bench and not good enough to challenge Perkins for the starting spot. He might even be a good option to fill in for Perkins if he goes down for a few games.
When the Birdman was set to return to the Hornets, a Fox writer looked at his potential impact to the team. Here are some quotes from his column on Jan. 28 of this year.
His numbers have never been sensational and he is not a refined athlete by any means. His last full season in the NBA he averaged 7.7 points, 6.1 rebounds and 1.49 blocks -- providing the kind of energy off the bench that Anderson Varejao provides the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Andersen brings a different kind of energy for the Hornets. It may include silly fouls for climbing over someone’s back or diving into a pile late. But it is the infusion he brings that kicks everybody into another gear.
That kind of sounds like a guy you want on your team. If he could be a poor man's Varejao (and make no mistake, Sideshow Bob is rich now) that would be great.
However, after a quick look at last year's stats, it doesn't appear that he added much to the Hornets after returning. He only played in 5 games for a total of 34 minutes and didn't play after Apirl 2nd. This is where I have to plead ignorance. I don't know if he was hurt, out of shape, or just not good enough to crack an already established rotation of a very good playoff bound team.
For more research on his story, see this Peter May article from around that same time. Also read about his ink work here. Also see this story on his family in ESPN.
So is he the answer for our big man spot? I think he could be. I assume he would accept a short term contract for the opportunity to prove himself, which would make it a low-risk move. He's going to have a fantastic locker room and coaching staff to provide him with whatever support and encouragement he needs to stay on track.
Bottom line is that he would fit a need on this team and his upside would seem to be greater than the downside. In fact, it could turn out to be a great Prodigal Son type of story. Plus he's got a great nickname, and who doesn't like that? I think taking a chance on him would be a great move.