Holding Out Hope That Next Year Will be Different? I Wouldn’t Bet on it.

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Published: February 19, 2010

As the trade deadline passed, we got what we expected- nothing. No moves to shake up the roster, no dumping of future salaries, and no Julian Wright getting his wish to magnificently warm the bench on another team. We stayed put.

Looking to next year, many Hornets fans are holding out hope that we will play the NBA’s new favorite game- “What Can I Get for an Expiring?!”, as we have nearly thirty million dollars in expiring contracts available next year spread between four players; JuJu, Peja, Mo, and Songalia.

We saw McGrady basically get turned into Kevin Martin, Jordan Hill, Jared Jeffries, and two first round picks and just fantasize about what our expirings can land us- but after looking over every roster in the NBA, I have come to the conclussion that next year we might have money to spend, but no product to buy.

Expiring contracts are valuable to teams that want to dump payroll- simple enough. Teams want to dump payroll because of a very simple concept- why be a non-contender for 60 million dollars when you can be a non-contender for 45 million dollars? Other factors play in like a desire to rebuild and a high priced player occupying the same position as a young and/or inexpensive player ( think Kevin Martin, because we will soon see Tyreke is really a 2 guard).

But regardless of the reason why, one thing is required of the player that we can expect to acquire with our expirings- they must have deals that are longer than one year at a relatively high figure. I think we can all agree on that, at the very least.

When glancing at the NBA landscape, the first thing someone will notice is that next year there will be far fewer players that fit into that category than there has ever been before. It seems like almost any player with any real value is either a free agent in 2010 or 2011, or they belong to a team that simply does not have a need to dump salary- think LA and Bynum or Portland and Aldridge.

So who is left, then? I am glad you asked. I have compiled a list of players that might be available for expirings based on that one prerequisite. Here is the list and whether I, or any Hornets fan, would or should have interest:

 

Washington- Arenas- no thanks

Golden State- Biendrins, Ellis, and Magette. No to Magette and Biendris because they simply dont help enough for all that money and no to Ellis because of fit and Thornton

New Jersey- Devin Harris- dont need

Toronto- Hedo (no thanks), Calderon (no need), and Bargani (maybe? eh?)

Detroit- Gordon- same as Monte Ellis, Hamilton- no thanks, Charlie V. (maybe?)

Sacto- Nocioni, Udrih, and Garcia- eck

Clippers- Baron Davis

Philly- Elton Brand (no way) and Iggy (finally a yes!)

Cleveland- Jamison and Boobie

Phoenix- Barbosa- no need.

Miami- James Jones (really reaching here)

San Antonio- MCDyess (get my point yet?)

 

We all assume that our expirings can get us quality like expirings have done in the past- but this isn’t the past- what this will be is the thinnest market in the recent history of the NBA. Bad teams have shed their overpriced vets already and good teams have no need or desire to shed.

I left Danny Granger off the list because even if by some miracle he becomes available, Indy has already turned down AL Jefferson for him, they aren’t taking expirings.

Fact is that some minor deals might be able to be done- think Songalia for Gortat lets say or JuJu for Pietrus if he continues to lose minutes to Reddick and Orlando wants to shed future money. But the point is that outside of Iggy, there is no chance that there will be any second banana type players available.

So the team will be left with two options at that point- settle for a guy like Charlie V or Corey Magettee as an upgrade that will make us better but not get us into contention, or wait for the summer of 2011 and put all of our eggs into that basket- either by getting a big FA or taking on the contracts of guys who were overpaid in the summer of 2010 (think Joe Johnson getting a max deal but the team figuring out he isn’t a max player or the same for Rudy Gay).

But all that means is that next year will be closer to this year than we all might think. Let’s just hope next year’s version features a healthy Chris Paul and another surprising, overacheiving rookie to pacify us until 2011.

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