NBA Draft 2008: Trade Leaves Hornets With No Picks, but With Plenty of Cap Space

James ReesAnalyst IJune 26, 2008

As of now, Jeff Bower’s draft day is done.  Yesterday’s trade of the 27th overall pick to Portland for cash considerations left the New Orleans without a pick in either round of tonight’s NBA draft, so don’t be surprised if you see the Hornets GM on the golf course today.

The logic behind dealing away their only pick in this year’s draft is simple: They need more cap space.  The Hornets came painfully close to making a run at the Western Conference championship last season with a core group of guys who, for the most part, are staying put in New Orleans for the foreseeable future. 

But there are two important players on the roster that need new contracts—and because of that, the Hornets need more cap space. 

Jannero Pargo is an unrestricted free agent and will want compensation for his increased production last season.  Though Pargo tended to look more for his shot than the pass when he subbed in for Chris Paul, he still did a serviceable job as the back up point guard. 

Sometimes his offensive-minded game served the Hornets well when he was hitting and the rest of the team was teeth-chattering cold (see fourth quarter of Game 7: Western Conference semis).

The point is the Hornets would be wise to make room on their pay sheet for Pargo.  He was a valuable asset last year and deserves some loyalty from the club.

Chris Paul is the other player in need of a new deal.  He won’t be hitting the open market this season as a free agent, but next year he will if the Hornets don’t lock him into an extension.  For reasons obvious to anyone with half a brain, New Orleans needs to make Paul’s deal a high priority this summer.

But they need cap space to make it work.  He’ll be getting the maximum deal possible under current league cap agreements so money needs to be available. 

I don’t find anything wrong with the Hornets’ decision to choose money instead of the 27th overall pick.  When I first heard the news I was a little perplexed. 

Why not try to land a sleeper in the late first round?  Isn’t there anyone out there worth a damn outside the top-20?  But then as I thought about it, I started to understand the logic of the move.

The Hornets are built to win now.  Even though they are currently a very young team, they showed last year that the pieces are in place to make a serious move in the West.  A power shift is occurring in the Western Conference and the Hornets are cementing themselves as a top-three team right now. 

Adding a 27th-overall rookie and waiting for him to develop isn’t in the cards.  The Hornets need to secure what they’ve already got and then take a hard look at adding a veteran free agent.

So they take the cash from Portland, who by the way is stockpiling assets like the world’s about to end, and roll out the red carpet for potential impact guys on the free agent circuit.  It makes pretty good sense when you think about it. 

A few names being tossed around are Corey Maggette, Elton Brand and Antwan Jamison.  All are expected to be shopping their services this summer. 

I think the Hornets made a good move with the trade.  They are conducting their offseason agenda with a win-now mindset, and this move fits that plan of action. 

Unfortunately for Hornets fans, tonight’s draft no longer matters.  But hey, look on the bright side; now you have time for that twilight round of golf.  And if you see Jeff Bower, tell him I said hi.