Hornets Off-Season: Where the Hornet’s express “interest”

Published: July 16, 2008

All the signs were there.  I should have known the Hornets wouldn't be making much noise in this off-season.  The finances alone pointed to it.  This team doesn't want to spend past the Luxury Tax line.  As a team with the cheapest ticket in the NBA and one of the smallest markets – they really can't afford to spend past the Luxury Tax line.

Still, it's always exciting to speculate, and if you look at the team finances for this year, it looks like we've got about nine million to play with – allowing us drop a mid-level contract, pick up Pargo, and grab some other scrubs.  We had a few pieces that we probably could find a taker for – Butler and James aren't entirely immovable.  We could maybe clear some room, fix that bench, and roll to the Western Conference Finals this year.  I posted about it.  I got excited.

Reality Check.  Big names don't sign for short contracts.  Next year, assuming we pick up Julian Wright's and Hilton Armstrong's contract options, we'll have 64 million worth of contracts on our books after Paul's big extension.  If we sign ONE person to the mid-level this year for longer than one year, we'll be over the Luxury tax.  The following year, Tyson Chandler can opt out of his contract and sign a long term one.  You better believe that'll happen.  The year after that, David West can opt out of his contract, and sign another long term one.  Because of the clever way Bower signed him, his contract is actually getting smaller every year.  You better believe he'll opt out of that last year when it falls to 7 million.

This is why the Hornets have "expressed interest" in various players like Posey, Pargo and Hayes.  They can't put any money down because they feel they have to be conservative so they can keep the core together.

So – expect nothing flashy this summer.  The biggest move is that Hilton Armstrong may go – he's been only mediocre in summer league and Byron and Bower have been known to pull the plug quickly on someone they don't think is panning out.  I'd expect a couple Pargo-level signings, a couple scrub signings, and for the Hornets to call it an off-season.  It's a bit disappointing.

I will comment on one nice thing about the salary structure Bower has put together.  Morris Peterson and Peja's contracts expire just in time for West to opt out, giving us enough money that year to resign West and probably two more mid-level guys.  James and Butler expire just in time for Tyson Chandler to opt out.  He's built this team's salary structure so he can keep that core together.  With those three and a couple shooters, we're going to be good for a long time.

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