Gray Implications

NEW ORLEANS - MARCH 31: Aaron Gray #34 of the New Orleans Hornets reacts during a timeout against the Washington Wizards at New Orleans Arena on March 31, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Wizards defeated the Hornets 96-91. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

It didn't come as an hour long Decision Special on the Food Network, but Y!'s Marc Spears broke the news today that Gray will be rejoining New Orleans on a two year deal.

My first reaction? Good move. The Hornets get size and rebounding, two things the current roster sorely lacks. Gray's signing may not seem like an obvious step forward, but any other 7', 270 pound signing would have been universally lauded. Gray's always been an efficient offensive player and certainly showed flashes of defensive excellence in his 24 games with us. That's worth the minimum for sure. 

The front court may well be finalized at this point. West and Okafor should start at 4 and 5, with Songaila and Gray the primary backups. Brackins will likely challenge Songaila for minutes, and Posey's a far better power forward than small forward, so he'll see some time there too. But these six guys will comprise Chris Paul's front court for the season. 

After the jump, a look at how much space this leaves us.

Player Dollars (in millions)
Chris Paul 14.9
Peja Stojakovic 14.3
Emeka Okafor 11.9
David West 8.3
James Posey 6.5
Darius Songaila 4.8
Julian Wright 2.9
Darren Collison 1.4
Craig Brackins 1.1
Quincy Pondexter 0.9
Marcus Thornton 0.8
Luther Head  1.2
Aaron Gray 1.3
Free Agent #3 ---
Free Agent #4 ---
Hornets Total
70, 040, 045
Salary Cap
58, 044, 000
Luxury Tax
70, 307, 000

I'm penciling in Gray's 2010-2011 cap hold as his salary. As with Head, we don't have a definitive '10 figure yet, but I can't imagine his contract exceeding $1.5 million. For now, that leaves the Hornets right at the luxury. The team still won't technically need to move anyone (Songaila, Wright, etc) to get under the tax. 

With thirteen players now under contract, the Hornets have set themselves up to spend between $4.8 million (Songaila's contract) $7.7 million (Songaila and Wright's contracts) on a single player. This is all operating under the assumption that New Orleans will go into the season with 14 players, as they've done for a while. The order in which free agents are acquired isn't a huge deal. The real issue is that with Travis Outlaw, Tony Allen, Ronnie Brewer, J.J. Reddick, Anthony Morrow, and even Dorell Wright gone, there simply aren't any wings worth that kind of money. 

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