Backbreaker…Plus, Square Pegs in Round Holes

I watched every second of Wednesday nights Hornets game and I must say…..that defeat was a backbreaker in my opinion!

Memphis just seemed to want it more and found a way to win at the end of the game.

As of now (Thursday, March 4th) the Hornets trail Portland by 5 games for the 8th and final playoff spot in the NBA’s Western Conference. 


That said, it’s time to start addressing serious concerns for next season.

What concerns am I talking about?

Well, let’s start with the dreaded NBA luxury tax…an obstacle the Hornets worked hard to get below this season.  The tax will be set for around $70 million dollars for the 2010-2011 season.

The problem is the Hornets have $73 million dollars in salary committed to just 10 players for next season.  Add in two draft picks and two veteran players who’ll make the minimum salary and realistically the team is looking at a $76-$80 million dollar payroll for 2010-2011.  

Sure, the Hornets have close to $30 million dollars in expiring contracts when the summer of 2011 rolls around but that does not help them this summer!  It really does not help them next summer either because their are no good free agents available in the summer of 2011. 

So how will the team get below the luxury tax and stay competative?????

If I could answer that question my checks would be coming from George Shinn and not Patty’s daddy (The Hearst Corporation).

Although I cannot answer that question with certainty I can share some ideas that will probably come to fruition this summer.

  • The Hornets will not be able to sign any impact  free agents.  Forget the big name players and even the 2nd tier guys…the Hornets will be so strapped they’ll only be able to sign low risk/high reward players. 


  • The Hornets may have to give a quality player like David West away this summer and deal with the public relations nightmare that surrounds such a deal.  I use David West as an example because he’s a good player with value who is basically entering the final year of his contract.  West has a player option on his contract for 2011-2012 but he’s sure to opt out so he can get a long term deal.  The excerpt and link below details a deal involving Marcus Camby and the Nuggets two years ago and is an example of what I’m talking about when I reference giving David West away:  

Marcus Camby’s agent was

told it was a salary dump.

It was one fit for only the largest city dump.

The Nuggets traded the center to the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday in a move that next season could save them more than $22 million when the luxury tax is considered. And what must the Clippers give the Nuggets?

Possibly nothing.

The Nuggets have the option of trading second-round picks in 2010. But if Denver’s pick ends up being better than Los Angeles’, the Clippers give up nothing.

“They told me it was a salary dump,” Camby’s agent, Rick Kaplan, said of the Nuggets. “It was shocking. They got nothing in return. . . . They’re going to get crushed in public relations. . . . This is one of the most lopsided trades in NBA history.”

  • Emeka Okafor is completely immovable.  His guaranteed contract (which has to one of the worst on the books in the NBA right now)  runs through the 2013/2014 season and over that span he’s set to get paid $52 million dollars.     

So after laying out the above scenarios…where do the Hornets stand for next season?

In my opinion…here’s what they have to do to stay under the luxury tax and stay competative:

1.  Luck out in the lottery and get a top 10 pick (and then pick wisely).

2.  Trade Darren Collison for a starter or for a high lottery pick this season (preferably a high lottery pick).

3.  Trade Julian Wright for a 2010 second round draft pick.

4.  Give David West away in a Marcus-Camby-’08-like salary dump (a move I hate but one that gets the team out of luxury tax jail!).

5.  Trade Peja Stojakovic and Morris Peterson next season before the trade deadline to a desperate team (kinda like the Wizards this season) and hope that the players coming to the Hornets can help a young team make a playoff push.

Fletcher’s 2010-2011 Hornets:

Starting 5:

1. Chris Paul

2. Marcus Thornton

3. Al-Farouq Aminu (Lottery Pick #1…this is the top five 2010 lottery pick the Hornets have to acquire by trading Darren Collison)

4.  Greg Monroe (Lottery Pick #2…this is the Hornets 2010 lottery pick and a selection that would ease the pain of giving West away.  Monroe is a local kid from the west bank.)

5. Emeka Okafor

*Super young starting 5 but talented on paper.   


PG: Matt Bouldin (Hornets 2nd round 2010 draft pick)

PG: Bobby Brown (yes, bring him back as a veteran back-up for CP3)

SG: Morris Peterson (who’s expiring contract could/should be traded between December-February next season to help the team get a quality player in return)

SF: Peja Stojakovic (who’s expiring contract could/should be traded between December-February next season to help the team get a quality player in return)

SF: James Posey

SF/PF: Charles Garcia (Hornets 2nd Round pick in 2010.  Could be the pick the team acquires for trading Julian Wright).

PF: Darius Songaila

C: Aaron Gray

C: Brian Cusworth (A young, athletic big man who played on the Hornets Las Vegas summer league team in ’09 and who’s currently playing in Spain….but who would obviously return home for the chance to play in the NBA.)

  • Is the above a perfect team?  Absolutely not…but it is a young, athletic group…the team is under the luxury tax…and their are big trade chips (MoPete/Peja) that could be used to get good veteran players for a postseason push.


  • And really…isn’t what I’ve proposed better than running the same old guys out there and continuing to believe that they’ll get it done?  Believing that is like believing square pegs will fit into round holes?

One Response

  1. hornets need to firesale on all the underachieving big contracts…once they do that we’ll see where they go

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