Luther Head was all set and ready to be a new member of the New Orleans Hornets, but he had one test he had to get through before he could officially join the team: a physical.
No one fails a physical.
Apparently, Luther Head does.
On July 10, Head’s agent announced that he would be joining the New Orleans Hornets next season. He reportedly was going to receive a two-year deal worth $2.3 million, with a player option going into the second season.
Luther Head, 27, played in 47 games with the Indiana Pacers last year. He averaged 7.6 points, 1.7 rebounds, and 1.6 assists per game while playing 17.3 minutes a game.
He was hoping to get a chance to showcase his skills more with a great distributing point guard and with little depth at the shooting guard position.
However, league sources stated today that the Hornets will not offer Head a contract because he had some issues during his physical exam that concerned the Hornets’ medical staff.
There was speculation that the Hornets’ decision not to offer Head a contract was due to the “mutual agreement” of Jeff Bower—the Hornets GM—parting ways with the organization.
But, league sources have also said that Bower’s departure had no impact on this situation.
Aubrey Coleman, who was the leading scorer in the NCAA last year, could be a possible, cheaper alternative to Head. Coleman played for the Houston Cougars last year and averaged 25.6 points per game.
Coleman is currently on the Hornets Summer League team and has averaged 15 points in his last two games. One concern for Coleman is his lack of defensive ability, but with little depth at the shooting guard position, he may be the best option.
Update: Luther Head's agent, Mark Bartelstein, claims that his client is in perfect health and that the Hornets have not given them a reasonable explanation for withdrawing the offer.
They claim that the doctors were concerned about one of Head's ankles after seeing an MRI.
"That's absurd," Bartelstein said told The Associated Press. "There's nothing wrong with Luther Head. Nothing. They're doing tremendous damage to a player by putting out there that there's something physically wrong with him when there's nothing wrong with him. ... I spoke to the Pacers' medical staff this morning. They said he passed his end-of-the-season physical with flying colors and there should be absolutely no issues."
He said that they withdrew the deal just hours after the departing of Jeff Bower. He is claiming that the Hornets pulled the offer after Bower left, and his physical being has nothing to do it.
"Jeff Bower got fired yesterday. This is a deal I made with Jeff Bower on Saturday. Then suddenly, hours after Jeff Bower was fired, I was told they were going to rescind the contract on Luther," Bartelstein said. "So I would ask anyone to connect the dots."
Head's agent also said that Hornets team president Hugh Weber was not interested at all in renogoiating, which teams will usually do after disagreement on a player's physical.
"I've been doing this 25 years. I've never had a situation like this ever happen," Bartelstein said. "All you can do is pay attention to people's actions and draw your own conclusions.
"This is a business that is supposed to be based upon trust and handshakes and being able to make deals where you trust people's intentions," Bartelstein continued. "I made a deal with Jeff Bower. If a team had an issue with a physical, you would never ever get a phone call saying, 'The deal's been rescinded. We're moving on.' The team would call you and say, 'Hey, we've got something we're concerned about in the physical. Let's figure out a way to work around it. Let's deal with it.' Maybe you put an exception to a particular injury (in the contract). You would discuss it. You wouldn't just flat-out rescind the contract and say, 'That's it, we're moving on,' with no communication unless your intentions are something else."
Through all of this, Luther Head has to sit back and watch this unfortunate situation unfold.
"It's extremely unsettling and it's disappointing for Luther," Bartelstein said. "Here's a young man who's trying to build a career and suddenly he's tagged with failing a physical when in fact he's playing basketball every single day. There's absolutely nothing wrong with him. The fact of the matter is, there's not a player in the NBA who couldn't be failed on a physical if a team wanted to fail the player."