Luxury Tax Casualty: Hornets Donate Devin Brown to Bulls

Paul AugustinCorrespondent IJanuary 25, 2010

NEW ORLEANS - JANUARY 20:  O.J. Mayo #32 of the Memphis Grizzlies shoots the ball over Devin Brown #23 of the New Orleans Hornets at the New Orleans Arena on January 20, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  The Hornets defeated the Grizzlies 113-111.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

I am a subscriber to the Hornets' "Bee Mail."  Bee-Mail subscribers receive special offers and breaking news from the Hornets' front office. 

A Bee-Mail release showed up in my email inbox this afternoon as follows:

" The Hornets have acquired center Aaron Gray from the Chicago Bulls in exchange for guard Devin Brown.

"Aaron will help bolster our frontcourt and add depth to our team," Head Coach and General Manager Jeff Bower said. "We continue to be pleased with the play of Marcus Thornton and feel he, along with our other backcourt players, can step up."

Gray, in his third year after being drafted 49th overall out of Pitt in the 2007 NBA Draft, is averaging 2.3 points and 2.0 rebounds in eight games with the Bulls this season. The 7-foot, 270 pound center has career averages of 3.8 points and 3.2 rebounds per game, having played in 125 games (19 starts)."

This press release is so politically correct that it make me want to regurgitate my lunch. Please allow me to decode this for you.

This was a luxury tax move, plain and simple. The Hornets shave about $100,000 off of their luxury tax number.  This leaves them with another $400,000, plus some change to go.

This move trades Brown, who was becoming more productive as the season went on, for a player who hardly plays. Gray has only appeared in eight games this season, as he is recovering from a stress fracture in one of his legs.

The scoop on Gray, according to one  Bulls blog site, is not too encouraging. "Aaron Gray was a big dope, and we loved him because he was so disjointed and awkward that it was hard not enough to root for him whenever he scored from the post or actually grabbed a rebound in traffic."

As far as the grade for the Hornets on this trade, I will have to give them somewhere between a D and a D-.  The grade would have been much higher had this trade actually gotten them below the luxury tax threshold.

This trade leaves the Hornets well short of the luxury tax goal. Another give-away trade must be in the works.  Additionally, I will be surprised if Gray actually clocks any game time.

The only redeeming aspect of this trade is that rookie guard Marcus Thornton will likely see significantly more playing time.