Patience Ain’t a Sexy Word

Published: July 11, 2009

Today, Brandon Bass agreed to terms with Orlando, taking another semi-pipe dream free agent the Hornets were said to be interested in off the market.  Bass joins McDyess, Chris Andersen, Zaza Pachulia, and, frankly, Jannero Pargo on that list.

I was talking with my buddy about the sorts of players that leaves the Hornets with as potential backups in the frontcourt; Chris Wilcox, Drew Gooden, Joe Smith, Mikki Moore, etc, and realized two things:

  1. I was dwelling on their negatives.
  2. Even with their negatives, they won’t produce less than Hilton Armstrong did last year.

So again, I’m back to the fact we can’t really help but improve.  Either Hilton finally improves – or we get someone else who has already proven they can produce more than him.

Yes – that’s a joke.  Sort of.  I know if Chandler is traded, it’ll be tough replicating what he gave us last year on the cheap, and nearly impossible to replicate what he gave us when he was healthy, but as I gain more and more time and distance from the Game Which Will Not Be Named I become less and less anxious about the team.

Jeff Bower took a calculated gamble last season that the Hornets were on the verge of a contention.  Injuries hit him in the spots that were exposed by the gamble, and it didn’t pay off.  Then the economy went and crapped all over Bower’s ability to trade away only a single smallish contract for tax relief.  He had it set up nicely, really.  If the tax rate had increased at the same rate it had over the last ten years, we would be talking about having to trade Hilton Armstrong or Rasual Butler this off-season, and that’s about it.

So the gamble will most likely cost the Hornets next year.  It’s likely we’ll see a team that won’t improve much, if at all.  To me, however, that’s a better option than having a fire sale like I’ve seen proposed on message boards and the like.  If the Hornets dump West for unproven young players and maybe a draft pick or two, I don’t see how that helps the Hornets reach contender status anytime in the next three years.

It’s already been proven that Chris Paul and David West can make the Hornets a contender with a rebounder, defensive supporting cast and a capable third scorer.  If the Hornets stand pat and eat this season, the following season they have a crazy  $33,503,630 in expiring contracts to play with.

Most importantly, those contracts are expiring the summer after the big free agent extravaganza of 2010.  Here’s the thing you should know about that summer:  There are four or five franchise-level free agents.  Right now, there is slated to be about $376 million dollars worth of cap space.  That number will probably be whittled down to around $250-$300 million by the summer of 2010 by extensions and free agent deals but that’s still a lot of free agent cash floating around.  Especially when the franchise level players can only claim around  $80-100 Million dollars of it.

What does that mean to the Hornets, who won’t have cap space next year?  Next summer, after those top free agents go, there are going to be a bunch of second or third bananas like Mehmet Okur, Carlos Boozer, Joe Johnson, Luis Scola, Marvin Williams etc, who will have desperate teams come courting them with big money deals to be their new “franchise player”.   Then, halfway through that season, there will be a few of those teams forced to realize their new star player isn’t going to take them where they want to go – and that player will become available at the trade deadline – or the next off-season.  The Hornets will be in a good position to snap those people up.  Oh, you don’t want Joe Johnson?  Would you like an expiring Peja?  If they can grab another second banana or two to pair with West and Paul, the team can be pretty nasty.

So, to me, I’d prefer a little patience.  It ain’t sexy, but I think in the long run it’ll be better for the Hornets.

What do you think?  Waiting a year worth it?


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