Filling out the Roster

The regular season is rapidly approaching, but the Hornets still have quite a bit of work to do in terms of fielding a full roster. A quick look at the team depth chart as of today:

PG SG SF PF C
Chris Paul Morris Peterson Peja Stojakovic David West Tyson Chandler
Mike James Rasual Butler James Posey Melvin Ely Hilton Armstrong
Julian Wright

That's a mere 11 players under contract. In each of the last 3 years, the Hornets have followed the general NBA strategy of keeping 14 players on the opening day roster. And in each of the last three years, the Hornets have ended up filling the open 15th roster spot later during the season: 2008- Chris Andersen, 2007- Linton Johnson III, 2006- Marcus Fizer.

Obviously, there are very few people who figure Sool will be the primary backup SG on Opening Night. His recent performance certainly doesn't warrant it; if anything, Julian Wright will slide over to the 2, or Byron Scott will elect to got with a 2 point guard lineup. In sum, the Hornets have 3 open roster spaces and 3 need positions- point guard, shooting guard, and a flex forward/center. Do we have enough money to adequately fill all three needs? Here's the '08-'09 contract situation:

Player Dollars ($)
Peja Stojakovic 12,528,000
Tyson Chandler 11,350,000
David West 9,862,500
Mike James 6,244,083
Morris Peterson 5,592,240
James Posey 5,585,500
Chris Paul 4,574,189
Rasual Butler 3,630,000
Hilton Armstrong 2,032,800
Julian Wright 1,869,600
Melvin Ely 998,398
2008-2009 Salary Cap 58,680,000
New Orleans '08-'09 Payroll 64,266,810
2008-2009 Luxury Tax 71,150,000

So we're wedged in there, right between the salary cap and the luxury tax. I think we can all agree that the $71,150,000 figure will serve as a hard cap as long as George Shinn is the Owner, and I can't fault him for that. Most of the major NBA powers of the last decade or so have been built without exceeding that threshold, so there's no reason we should have to either. Finally, that leaves us with $71,150,000 - $64,266,810 of available space, or $6,883,190.

In reality, we can't give out the full 6,883,190 dollars since we're over the cap. This will probably be how things go down- 2 minimum contracts and one BAE contract (~2 million). That'll be somewhere in the neighborhood of $70 million dollars, or just a shade beneath the luxury tax.

A final conclusion to draw- if the reports are true and Jannero Pargo walks, it won't be because New Orleans was unable to pay him. Since we have his bird rights, we could've squeezed every last dollar out before the luxury tax and given him a more than acceptable deal. What's more likely is that Jeff Bower and Co. realized that anybody could run up court and jack up shots wildly at a 39% clip. There's no way that warrants a 3 year deal.

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