In Demps We Trust: Dell Makes the Right Call on Player Options

Published: October 29, 2012

Dell Demps had to decide the futures of Greivis Vasquez, Al-Farouq Aminu, and Xavier Henry this week. Were his choices off the mark or a stroke of genius?

At Hornets247 we have had October 31st circled on the calander for quite a while. It is a significant date not only because it is the night of the Hornets season opener, but because it also is the deadline for the decisions Dell needs to make concerning the futures of Greivis Vasquez, Al-Farouq Aminu, and Xavier Henry. The NBA’s new CBA stipulates that teams have until that date to decide on whether or not they want to pick up team option’s for the following years on rookie scale contracts. In other words, Dell needed to decide by Wednesday whether or not he wanted to guarantee those guys deals for the 2013-14 season.

Vasquez was a no-brainer because his salary is so small for the ’13-’14 season ($2.15 mil). Henry was a no-brainer in an inverse way, as his option was for $3.2 million and he had yet to show that he is even worth the league minimum in the NBA. Al-Farouq Aminu was the decision that Dell had to go back and forth on, but in this writer’s opinion, he made the right call by declining the option. Here’s why:

Grant Hill 1.95 million

Matt Barnes 1.2 million

Jeremy Evans 1.8 million

Antawn Jamison 1.35 million

Ronnie Brewer 1.1 million

These are just a few of the backup small forwards who were signed this offseason and their corresponding salaries for 2012-13. Four proven players who, though older, had far better seasons than Aminu last year and one young athletic talent who has shown at least as much in the league- all of whom were signed for less than half of the option that Dell chose not to exercise. Looking at the market, Dell saw that he would be vastly overpaying and despite Aminu’s “potential”, he decided to implore logic rather than faith.

Dell comes from the San Antonio Spurs school of business, so in retrospect, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that he was so shrewd in making this decision. The Spurs drafted James Anderson 20th overall in the 2010 draft, but declined his third year option last year and went with a second round pick in Danny Green instead at the swing position. It doesn’t matter where you were drafted or what potential you supposedly have to the Spurs. For them, it is about production and whether or not your cost matches that production. Demps evaluated Aminu with the entire market in mind and the cold hard math said that they would be able to re-sign Aminu or grab somebody better to play backup SF for half the price next summer.

Moving forward, the Hornets now have nearly 11 million dollars in expiring deals between Aminu, Henry, Roger Mason, and Hakim Warrick that they could use at this year’s trading deadline or they could decide to let all those guys (and Rashard Lewis) fall off the books. With Vasquez, Rivers, Davis, Gordon, Anderson, Miller, Thomas, and Jason Smith’s 2013-14 salaries factored in, the Hornets figure to be about $22 million under the cap going into next offseason ($17 million if they pick up their option on Robin Lopez). When you factor in cap holds, including one for a first round pick, the Hornets should have the ability to offer up a max contract to a guy coming off a rookie deal like a Ty Lawson or a Steph Curry. And if they get creative or release Lopez, they could have enough room to make a super max offer to guys like Iguodala, Josh Smith, or even Chris Paul.

Picking up Aminu’s option would make all of those things much harder. They would have had to dump a guy like Smith or trade their draft pick in order to get back in the position to offer max deals with Aminu on the books. So, does this mean that we are witnessing the last few months of Aminu as a Hornet? Not necessarily. The Hornets could decline this option and offer him a contract that offers more total money over multiple years like they did when they declined Jason Smith’s option before giving him a 3 year, 7.5 million dollar deal.

The future of Aminu and the Hornets is unknown, but one thing is for sure- Dell gave himself maximum flexibility and didn’t overpay for an unknown product, and for that he gets our undying devotion and our trust.


  1. Pingback: New Orleans Hornets' Al-Farouq Aminu in a battle for starting small forward spot | Hatching News

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