News » Hornets still tweaking roster despite big moves in offseason

Hornets still tweaking roster despite big moves in offseason

Hornets still tweaking roster despite big moves in offseasonWith three weeks remaining before the Hornets open training camp, General Manager Jeff Bower said he is not finished tinkering with the roster despite the recent additions of Emeka Okafor, Ike Diogu and the re-signing of Sean Marks.

Bower is involved in talks for a deal, but he declined to give specifics.

"We've got some things that we're working on that we're going to continue to move forward with," Bower said. "We're going to continue to find ways to improve this team, and we're looking into situations that we think will help us."

The Hornets could make a similar move as last month when they traded shooting guard Rasual Butler to the Los Angeles Clippers for a future second-round draft pick to improve their salary cap flexibility.

The Hornets shredded $3.9 million from their payroll by trading Butler. With their payroll at $74.9 million, if the Hornets don't decrease that total by the February trade deadline, they would have to pay the league a $1 for each dollar they are over the luxury tax threshold of $69.92 million next summer.

"What we've tried to do all summer is improve our team on the court and also improve our (salary cap) flexibility," Bower said. "We made a lot of progress in both areas, and we will continue to make more progress as we round out the summer."

Beyond their tax concerns, the Hornets could be looking to make a deal because they have big plans for first-round draft pick Darren Collison.

Collison's likely emergence off the bench as the top backup for Chris Paul could result in a significant drop in minutes for veteran backup point guard Antonio Daniels.

Although Daniels is owed $6.6 million this season, he could draw interest for a trade because of his expiring contract.

Hornets Coach Byron Scott and Bower said there could be situations that involve Paul and Collison playing in the backcourt together, so that could mean a lesser role for Devin Brown, who exercised the option on his contract to return to the Hornets . Brown can play point guard and shooting guard.

It appears the Hornets are set at every position, although veteran Morris Peterson, Julian Wright and rookie Marcus Thornton will battle for the starting shooting guard position in training camp.

Wright is expected to get minutes at small forward with Peja Stojakovic returning to camp as the starter and James Posey as the top backup. Bower said they received good reports on Stojakovic, who missed all but 13 games in the 2007-08 season after undergoing back surgery and had constant back problems last season, from Mark Cranston, who is the Hornets' director of performance and rehabilitation.

With Stojakovic's constant injury problems last season, the Hornets' frontcourt struggled. To avoid having to rely so heavily on Stojakovic's perimeter scoring, the Hornets acquired Okafor in a trade with the Charlotte Bobcats in exchange for center Tyson Chandler this summer.

With Okafor's ability to score from mid-range, the post will help draw some of the defensive coverage away from David West and Paul.

The Hornets also signed Diogu to a one-year deal to bring more scoring at power forward when West is not in the game.

"I think the consistency that Emeka has shown from scoring and rebounding are important," Bower said. "Overall, I think we have added some scoring and rebounding. We think we've added some depth and quickness in the backcourt.

"We look at it that we have some players that have a different style that we think will complement our returning styles. We made change to get better."

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John Reid can be reached at or 504.826.3407.

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Added: September 7, 2009


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