Hornets Happenings: Rebuilding of the Roster Part Two: Who Should Go?

Paul AugustinCorrespondent IJune 10, 2009

DENVER - APRIL 29:  Carmelo Anthony #15 of the Denver Nuggets drives against Peja Stojakovic #16 of the New Orleans Hornets in Game Five of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 2009 NBA Playoffs at Pepsi Center on April 29, 2009 in Denver, Colorado. The Nuggets defeated the Hornets 107-86. 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 Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

In the last Hornets Happenings, I wrote about guaranteed NBA contracts and the difficulty of trying to rid a team of expensive contracts of marginally productive players. 

The Hornets need to be able to rid themselves of some of their higher price contracts so that they will have a chance to sign one or two free agents that can help them turn the corner.

Given the contract difficulties, who should the Hornets try to get off the roster?  

It is probably universally agreed that Chris Paul is untouchable. 

He is the face of the franchise.

Few will argue that with his tendency to back injuries, Peja Stojakovic is the No. 1 target to go.

Peja is one of the best shooters the game has to offer, when he is healthy.  He has one of the quickest and purest releases ever in basketball, and is impossible to contest due to his size and the quickness in which he gets his shot off.

It can be argued that Peja is the best catch and shoot player ever to play in the NBA.  He runs the floor well and finds his way to his hot spots in transition, and is also deadly accurate from the foul line.

However, due to his frequent injuries, Peja was paid $20,000 per point last season. From watching him play, one could see him wince even on some routine shots.

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The extent of his injury may be worse than ever revealed. Unless he has a dramatic turn for the better this offseason, the best that the Hornets can hope for is that Peja takes an injury settlement or retires.

Assuming Peja does not retire or take a settlement, it is going to be difficult to entice another team to pick up Stojakovic and his contract. There will have to be some sort of package deal.

Although the Hornets officially deny it, another trade target is center Tyson Chandler. Had he passed the physical this season, Chandler would be part of the Oklahoma Thunder right now.

Chandler has been decent, and sometimes even spectacular for the Hornets.  He is solid on defense, but it is my belief that Paul made Chandler the player that he is.

Before coming to the Hornets and teaming with CP3, Chandler was a part-time starter. He has no offensive game other than put-backs and alley oops, and is only slightly better than Shaq from the charity stripe.

The Hornets need a center who can stand on his own offensively and at least create his own shot some of the time. They also need someone who can stand up to the pounding of Western Conference big men.

If Chandler gets a clean bill of health, he would be tradeable straight up. Otherwise, like Peja, he will have to be part of a package deal.

The best possibility would be to package Peja or Chandler with all-star forward David West or the Hornet's No. 1 draft choice.

Who would be able to absorb these players and their salaries?

Current projections have five teams—the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Memphis Grizzlies, the Portland Trail Blazers, the Miami Heat, and the Indiana Pacers—with significant money to spend in 2009. 

Look for the possibility of a multi-team deal.

What other players could be considered for straight-up trades? 

Last season, the Jannero Pargo-Chris Paul combination and rotation was much more effective than the Antonio Daniels-Chris Paul combo. 

Pargo has been reported in and around New Orleans, even getting into shooting contests with Hornets' coach Byron Scott. 

Look for Daniels to get dealt and Pargo to re-sign with the Bees.

Look also for the Hornets to deal shooting guard Morris Peterson.  Mo Pete has been in the doghouse and rides the pine too much for a player who will make $5.8 and $6.2 million next season.

The rest of the Hornets under contract—Rasual Butler, Hilton Armstrong, Julian Wright, James Posey, and Devin Brown—due to various circumstances, should not be traded or are not likely trade potential

Do not be surprised if, other than backup center Sean Marks who made up for his lack of skill with effort and hustle, the Hornets opt not to re-sign any of their players not under contract.

Who will the Hornets go after to add to their roster? 

Will they be able to put a decent supporting cast around Chris Paul?

Watch out for my next column, Rebuilding of the Roster Part Three: New Bees.