State of the Cap: New Orleans Hornets
By Josh Redetzke
2008/09 New Orleans Hornets Payroll: $63.8 million
2008/09 Estimated NBA Salary Cap: $58 million
Roughly: $5.8 million over cap
Without a doubt, Chris Paul has taken over as the top point guard in the NBA. His numbers are ridiculous; 21.1 points, 11.6 assists (led the league), and 2.7 steals (also led the league). There are times when it looks like Paul can do whatever he wants on the court and no one can stop him. He has risen to such a high level, yet he is just getting started with his career. Paul's three point shot continues to improve, which just makes him even more deadly. Need I go on? The Hornets are thrilled to only have to pay him $4.5 million next season, the last under his rookie contract. After that, however, they will be making up for it in a big way. Paul will begin his four-year, $68 million extension at that time, but every penny of it should turn out to be money well spent.
The Hornets don't have just one rising young star, they have two. David West keeps getting better every year and this season was no exception. He eclipsed the 20 point scoring average plateau for the first time and added 8.9 rebounds. Surprisingly, he also led the team in blocked shots with 1.3 per game. What's best for New Orleans is that West has a very cheap contract for that kind of production in a deal that gets smaller over time. For example, next season he will earn $9.8 million, the year after, $9.0 million, and after that, $8.2 million. There is a fourth year for $7.5 million, but with the way West is playing, it's almost assured that he will opt out of it. Any way you look at it, the deal is sweet for the Hornets. West was an absolute monster at times in the playoffs and if this season was any indication, him and Chris Paul will form an incredibly tough duo for many years.
For the first time in his career, Tyson Chandler averaged a double-double by putting up 11.8 points and 11.8 rebounds. Chandler is very well paid, due to receive $35.4 million over the next three years, and he is mostly just used for rebounding and defense. However, his ability to turn Chris Paul's lobs and drop passes into dunks has added more scoring to his game and what Chandler is good at he does very well (he was third in the league in rebounding). Sure, some better offensive moves and a little more shot blocking would be nice, but those are minor concerns. Having a productive center on your team is a coveted asset and so far, Tyson Chandler is worth his high salary.
New Orleans acquired Mike James in a midseason trade that also brought in Bonzi Wells to help bolster the bench. Bonzi has yet to re-sign, but James will collect just over $6 million each of the next two years even though he hardly plays. James could only manage about 8 minutes per appearance with the Hornets and he shot the ball terribly when he did get in. A full training camp with the team should help him get more acclimated, but with Chris Paul in front of him, James is a pricy backup that probably won't get a chance to earn his paycheck.
Welcome back, Peja Stojakovic! The time off must have done him some good because Peja posted his best three point shooting season ever, hitting 44.1% from downtown. The Hornets are finally seeing some return on their investment, which still has three years and $42.5 million left to go. That's a high price for a very one dimensional player as Peja's rebounding has gone way down and he has never played much defense. On the bright side, at least he is excelling at the main aspect of his game that earned him all those dollar signs; hitting the three ball.
With shooter Morris Peterson rounding out the top five (and set to collect a modest $6.2 million a year, on average), New Orleans now has all their starters under contract for at least the next three seasons. They've shown what they can do together and there is little doubt that the club will be title contenders for a few years, assuming they can stay healthy.
Their biggest concern by far is the talent level of their bench. To help
address that, the Hornets went out and signed James Posey, one of the best bench
players for two recent championship teams, the Celtics and the Heat. Four years
and $25 million might sound a bit pricy for a guy who only averages about 7.4
points and 4.5 rebounds per game, but as he showed in the Finals, Posey does the
little things that help teams win big games. He is another good outside shooter
to add to the roster and is capable of hitting clutch shots as well as making a
few hustle plays that lead to extra possessions. With the talent that currently
resides on this team, a player like Posey could be the difference between a
championship and an early playoff exit. Considering his recent success, maybe
Posey is the new Robert Horry?
With the fourth pick in the 2005 draft the Hornets selected Chris Paul who has quickly become the top young point guard and one of the brightest stars in the game today. Ironically, the Hornets, like Utah had Deron Williams rated higher going into the draft. Milwaukee, Atlanta and Portland all passed over him.
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I think the hornets lack a true superstar that would allow them to go the next level...collecitvely there a great team..but the question is do they have a player to take over in crunch time? That brings me to chris paul who is no doubt an all star but lacks the consistent perimeter jump shot to be considered a super star..that being said I would rate them wit a B
With the celtics,lakers,rockets,spurs,suns,being the only teams deserved of an A
the hornets need to trade up for demar derozan the next vince carter trade peja for him because they have a great young guy julian wright who can step up and take his postition or james posey can take it
Demars a great athlete but physically he's not ready and he's more of a catch and shoot player.. limited creativity on his ball handling
demar can shoot the the ball and take it to the hoop, thats exactly what the hornets need
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