Strength on the Inside: New Orleans Hornets May Already Have Enough Depth

Nathan MarraContributor IJuly 22, 2009

NEW ORLEANS - MARCH 16:  Anthony Tolliver #44 of the Creighton Bluejays shoots over the defense of Nick Fazekas #22 of the Nevada Wolf Pack during round one of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at the New Orleans Arena on March 16, 2007 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

As a New Orleans Hornets fan, I hear people complain about how they're pinching pennies and not making any moves.

But let's be realistic here. The Hornets have one of the biggest payrolls in the league, currently sitting at $79 million. And owner George Shinn has already said he wants to get below the luxury tax line.

How the Hornets go about this is unknown.

Their biggest trade bait is big man Tyson Chandler. Originally, plans with the Suns in a Chandler-for-Ben Wallace swap were in order, but Wallace was bought out. The team's hands are tied at the moment, to the point where they really can't operate with larger contracts. This is the reason why guys like Brandon Bass and Jannero Pargo didn't sign with the Hornets.

However, all is not lost. The team very well could already have the depth they need on the inside. Take Anthony Tolliver, shown in the picture above, for example. A star at Creighton, Tolliver was brought onto the New Orleans summer league team. He has a very good chance of making the final roster if the team doesn't sign a forward to backup David West.

Other examples include centers Earl Barron, Luke Nevill, and Courtney Sims. All three are vying for the third center spot behind Chandler and Hilton Armstrong, and it's likely one of them will win the job. Nevill has the size (7'2”) and youth, making him the best bet. Sims is a former D-League MVP. Barron has been on NBA squads before.

Simply put, all you Hornets fans worrying about depth, it could very well be there in the Summer League roster, where as many as five of the players (rookies Darren Collison, Marcus Thornton, and Nevill, veteran Julian Wright and second-year man Tolliver) could make the final roster.

With the youth the team has to give a fresh spark off the bench, I would be optimistic, rather than pessimistic about next year.

It's going to be interesting, for sure.