2009-10 NBA preview: New Orleans Hornets
Was it really just a year ago that this team was coming off their first ever divisional championship? Was it really a year ago that this team felt so solid about their roster that they essentially sold off their first round draft pick? Head Coach Bryan Scott stated on draft night 2008 that this was a team of now. Coming off a disappointing 2008-09 season, where many had them winning the NBA title or at least the Western Conference, we must ask is this already a team of then?
Now this team must navigate across a delicate tight rope. Strapped with one of the largest NBA payrolls, and still having a very thin bench, this team must focus on cutting more payroll or risk being slapped wit ha very large NBA luxury tax bill. That seems to indicate that this team will look to cut costs instead of improving their roster in the coming NBA season.
In fact this team has already tried to shed some salary. They traded Tyson Chandler to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Joe Smith and Chris Wilcox during last the past season. Smith and Wilcox were on expiring deals and this trade could have saved the Hornets big payroll money. However the Thunder rejected the trade over concerns about his surgically repaired toe. Chandler spent the rest of the 2008-09 NBA season battling that toe and a badly sprained ankle.
Since the Hornets had no bench help for Chris Paul and David West, they fell in the first round of the playoffs to the Denver Nuggets, and now face a new NBA season with a lot of uncertainty. Over the off season the Hornet were finally able to deal Chandler for Center Emeka Okafor. That move brings little cap relief but should improve the team’s overall health issues.