21. Darren Collison, PG, UCLA
I understand the Hornets need a backup for Chris Paul but this seems like a bit of a reach in my opinion. I think Collison will be solid. But at this pick, I would hope you could find someone to play more than 10 minutes a night for you. I do love the acquisition of Thornton whom I felt could have been a late first-round pick. (Pick Grade: Meh)
2009 NBA Offseason Transactions:
Hornets acquire F Darius Songaila and G Bobby Brown from Timberwolves for PG Antonio Daniels and 2012 2nd-rounder
Hornets re-sign C Sean Marks
Clippers acquire SG Rasual Butler from Hornets for conditional 2nd-rounder
Hornets sign PF Ike Diogu
Hornets acquire C Emeka Okafor from Bobcats for C Tyson Chandler
Hornets acquire SG Marcus Thornton from Heat for two future second-rounders
2008-09 Season Summary:
Coming off the 2007-08 season the Hornets were the Belle of the Ball in the NBA. They returned to play in New Orleans full time for the first time in three years, won a franchise record 56 games, had one of the future stars of the league in Chris Paul, and were one game away from playing in the Western Conference Finals, making expectations this season even higher. However, a couple of crucial injuries marred the season and led to the Hornets regressing by seven games and getting trounced in the first round of the playoffs (including an NBA post-season record 58-point home playoff loss to Denver.) All injuries aside, head coach Byron Scott added to the dismay as he seemingly lost control of his squad as well.
2009-10 Projected Depth Chart:
C: Emeka Okafor/Sean Marks/Hilton Armstrong
PF: David West/Julian Wright/Ike Diogu
SF: Peja Stojakovic/James Posey/Darius Songaila
SG: Morris Peterson/Devin Brown/Marcus Thornton
PG: Chris Paul/Darren Collison/Bobby Brown
NBA Free Agents:
C Melvin Ely (UFA)
SF Ryan Bowen (UFA)
2009-10 Team Salary: Approximately $76.5 million
2009-10 Expected League Salary Cap: $57.3 million
NBA Offseason Needs:
1. A More Reliable Two Guard - Rasual Butler was the only Hornets player to play in all 82 games this season. However the two guard position was a liability for the New Orleans all season long. Between Butler, Morris Peterson and Devin Brown, the team never got consistent play out of the position which put additional pressure on Chris Paul to carry the load in the backcourt. The Hornets would have to use either the 21st pick in the draft or their mid-level exception to fill this hole.
2. Some Muscle Inside - If the Tyson Chandler from two years ago shows up to camp next year, this is pretty much a moot point, but after watching a shell of the former Chandler play on a bad left wheel all season, I wouldn't bet on it. The Hornets were seriously lost without a solid paint presence on both ends of the floor and need something more reliable than Hilton Armstrong to step in if Chandler isn't healthy. David West is the king of the 17-footer, but nowhere near an intimidating inside presence at power forward.
3. A Team Psychiatrist - As much as the organization tries to paint a rosy picture about the team/coach chemistry in New Orleans, I'm not buying it. There is no way a team loses by 58 at home in the playoffs unless they are giving up on the coach. NO WAY. If Byron Scott is to remain at the helm in New Orleans, relationships will have to be mended and respect will have to be rebuilt.
4. Shed Salary - The Hornets are frequently mentioned as one of the teams that is in financial trouble and could be looking to dump some salary for as little as forty cents on the dollar. Currently the Hornets are about $19 million over the cap and would probably like to cut salary by as much as a 1/3rd for next season. The problem is that the team only has two contracts that expire after this season (Butler and Daniels - only $10.5 million off the books), one contract with a team option (Wright - $2.8 million) and one restricted free agent (Armstrong - $3.8 million) which means that the Hornets have to be okay with hemorrhaging money or implode the roster. There is no other way around it. Tyson Chandler, who was nearly traded during the season to the Thunder until his injury issues caused OKC to cancel the deal, has two years, $23.5 million left on his contract is already the topic of several trade rumors around the league.