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Darren Collison may be the carrot to go with a bad-contract stick

Jun 12, 2010, 10:48 AM EDT

NBA_collison.jpgThey’ve got a new owner and a new coach, so predicting what the New Orleans Hornets are going to do this off-season is about like predicating what Lamar Odom is going to show up for Game 5. Basically, you can’t.

But this is not a high-revenue team and they are already over the luxury tax for next season with $71.7 million committed. The Hornets would love to shed a few of their worst contracts this summer — Peja Stojakovic (one year at $14.2 million, Emeka Okafor (four years and $52 million total) or James Posey (two years, $6.5 million per).

But teams will not take on bad contracts for you just because they like you. If you’re going to give them the stick, you need a carrot.

That carrot might be promising point guard Darren Collison, suggests ESPN.com’s Marc Stein.

…look for the Hornets — based on the hints we’ve received from more than one exec — to make Collison available as long as the interested party is willing to take back the cap-clogging contract of Emeka Okafor, James Posey or Peja Stojakovic with Paul’s backup.

Everyone loves Collison, frankly it would be foolish to give him up just to get rid of Posey. But, if someone takes on the Okafor deal, the Hornets need to consider it. Seriously consider. If the Hornets are going to keep Chris Paul in a couple years when he can be a free agent, they need to provide a roster he thinks can win. To get there means shaking off some of these existing contracts and rebuilding the roster. The sooner that process starts the better.

All of which leaves new coach Monty Williams trying to make a nice-but-not-thrilling roster into a playoff team for a year or two while the front office does its thing. Not an easy job.

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