This offseason is arguably more important (or just as) than the regular season and playoffs that just was. The Hornets have a lot riding this offseason namely what happens with point guard Chris Paul. However some will argue that roster moves aren’t even number one on the agenda.
We’re here though to sort things out. I know we could talk about what we, as fans, would want. But I’m not really intersted in that. I’m interested in what the likely course of action is for the front office. How will they be tackling this delema to take the next step?
So let’s open up this can of worms to dissect the dicotemy of the New Orleans Hornets offseason game plan.
Step 1 — Get the CBA knowledge and information into the system
When I look at it, concerning the Hornets (and NBA’s) offseason the CBA has the following issues that all of you need to take into consideration:
- Salary-Cap (A Hard-Cap and where? 58-63 million?)
- Revenue Sharing (The players get 57% at the moment, will that fall to around 50%? If so expect smaller markets to make more money)
- Franchise-Tag (Will the franchise tag be instituted, if so will the Hornets use it. I hope this isn’t implemented into the league).
Dell Demps hired a lawyer to study the CBA, so the Hornets should be on top of their game when it comes to this kind of litigation. I still think that with this minor flexibility that they have the need to operate with a steady sense of caution even if a great opportunity presents itself. I still would rather one or two years at a shot at a title than 10 years of first and second round playoff exits.
Step 2 — Go About Your Business
There’s no two ways about it. Dell Demps has to go about his business as if there was an owner, as if there was no lockout pending. Now sure, he has to consider the ramifications of what the salary cap might look like come October or November.
The first set of procedures would be to try to resign David West and then try to resign Carl Landry. I do believe that West is much more likely to resign with the Hornets. He’s just injured himself and is unlikely to get the 9-11 Million a year he was seeking. In all likelihood Demps will offer the same contract extension that was on the table before (which West rejected), he may now happily accept.
Then comes Carl Landry. The man from Purdue was solid in the playoffs despite his ineffective rebounding. For many years though it has seemed like Landry has always wanted a more expansive role as a starter knowing he is capable of that. However he hasn’t always been all that great as a starter. Carl is known most for his explosive, sixth man role for the Houston Rockets in the playoffs where he scored and hustled his way to lead the Rockets to a series win.
If Demps sits down with Landry and explains to him his role (which he should know) then maybe he accepts. The question is for what price? By definition Landry is, in my view a pretty average NBA player. That is by no means a jab at the man, it’s actually a compliment. This team needs more role players and both he and Jarrett Jack form a nice foundation for a bench unit. I think a 5 million a year offer if what he’ll likely demand. If that’s the case, here’s what the roster will look like with West and Landry both resigned:
Okay, so that is with seven players on the roster all but one are signed up for the long term.
Step 3 — Looking for shooters and rebounding
An obvious weakness for New Orleans in the playoffs was their lack of size and their lack of scoring on the wings. I bet out of Willie Green and Marco Belinelli that the dude with the colour as his last name will be resigned, probably for a league minimum. Then I think we look to add two things, either via the trade route (which I think is the more likely scenario) or free agency.
I’ve compiled a list of Free Agents that we might be interested in:
- Rasual Butler
- Reggie Williams
- Nazr Mohammed
- Jason Richardson
- Sonny Weems (restricted?)
- Nick Young
- Mike Dunleavy
- Josh McRoberts
- Craig Smith
- Shawne Williams (…err…stretching it here)
- Reggie Evans (You want rebounding…go here)
Not a grand list by any stretch of the imagination but some food for thought. I can guarantee though, that some of these guys will get overpaid. By no means am I advocating the Hornets go after them at all costs, I mean that’d be crazy right? I guess I’d dip to get Reggie Evans (who’s a ridiculous rebounder for his height) or Nazr Mohammed but both have their cons. Would Evans fit in if we get both West and Landry? Or if not Landry could he carry the offensive load that West would leave in his rehab? As for Mohammed he’s aged (33 years old, will be 34 next season) and he’d probably be needed on a nightly basis.
The trade route looks to be the more feasable option for Demps. I hated when the Mavericks got Ian Mahinmi (what a waste sitting on their bench, we need him!) and when other teams overpay for players of that caliber.
I threw the guessed numbers if the Horents were to go after Jason Richardson and Nazr Mohammed and here’s what I came out with:
It’s not a championship roster at all, I’d also venture to say it would only win one series in the playoffs. What this team needs is a difference maker and it has to be out there on the trade market…
Step 4 — Being open for trades
The question I keep coming back to is “what will it take to be a top 2-3 Western Conference team?” David West is ageing, Emeka Okafor is not a true center, Trevor Ariza can’t be your third option on offense and having no shooters on the team is a killer with the best point guard on your roster.
As many of you may know David West is my favourite NBA player. His toughness, fundamental play and intensity is what makes the connection between him and I even stronger. But would trading West in the long term be a prudent issue? The more I think about it the more I find myself coming the conclusion that the time for trading West has come and gone. You won’t get a superstar for him, you’ll never get fair value and the way he plays with Paul is instrumental to the way the Hornets play the game.
Dell Demps is going to find a shooting guard at the two-guard position, just like he found CP a backup point guard.
Step 5 — Rallying a Business community to support the franchise
An article which stunned me the other day was here, it basically said that it wasn’t a lack of fan support, but a lack of support from the business community that could kill this franchise in New Orleans. I know that the city doesn’t have any fortune 500 companies located in the CBD, but there is still valuable, profitable companies operating within the city.
The business community showed, for a brief period of time that they would be willing to step up and invest in the team. A longer term investment is needed. Buying suites and sponsorship deals is a must for the front-office this offseason. It’ll be tough with the impending lockout, but it’s the next step towards securing a local owner.
For my estimation a checklist of sorts is needed for an owner to step up and purchase a large share in the franchise:
- Correct financial issues related to debt
- Draw up a fiscally responsible budget
- Reach attendance bench-marks
- Reach season ticket holder marks with the “I’m In” campaign (currently just over 8,000) to reach 10,000
- Secure business investors and sponsors
- Open up the TV Market to Louisiana, Mississippi and Arkansas
- Secure a long term, renewed relationship and lease with the State of Louisiana
Setting this up, changing the culture of the franchise, is a necessity, a predeterminer for a local owner to step up. The beauty of this is that it appears there are people willing to step up and invest in the franchise if these issues aformentioned, are addressed.
“I think we’re going to put back the franchise soon in a way that there will be more than one owner interested in buying the Hornets and keeping the team in New Orleans if the business community follows through on its pledges of support,” he said.
There is no easy way around this. Gary Chouest, I firmly believe, is waiting in the wings to purchase a large share in the organisation. He will only invest though, if it is fiscally responsible and financially stable as well as having an open, direct relationship with the business community of New Orleans as well as a fanbase commited for the long haul.
It appears that all these things are being set, but building a roster is a separate state of affairs. New Orleans needs to find more talent. In the playoffs it was evident that there was no one else willing to step up and take the offensive burden off of Chris Paul’s shoulders. No doubt that will change with David West returning. However it’s not the solution. This team was inconsistent before he went down. They have to find a third option on the wing to take over for a possesion here or there.
Keeping Chris Paul, finding him more talent and acquiring Gary Chouest will be necessary to build towards a championship.