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The Hornets may not have been entirely truthful in their dismissal of Luther Head

Sep 6, 2010, 5:45 PM EDT

Luther Head agreed with the New Orleans Hornets on the terms of a new two-year, $2.5 million contract, but one GM later, he was left out in the cold. The Hornets claimed that Head failed his physical due to a bum ankle, and the Hornets used that claim to sever ties with Head.

In the aftermath of that decision, there were whispers aplenty that Head had been done wrong (link via Tom Ziller of FanHouse); perhaps there was nothing wrong with Head’s ankle at all, and though the Hornets organization had originally agreed to contractual terms with him, he was no longer in the team’s plans after a management shift.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports has cited “several sources” confirming that to be the case, and the implications of the Hornets’ alleged ruse have apparently extended to Head’s dealings with other franchises as well:

And yet like the
rest of the league, the Kings were unwilling to guarantee the deal
because Hornets president Hugh Weber declared that Head had flunked his
physical in July.

Head had agreed to a one-year deal with Hornets GM Jeff Bower, only
to have the GM fired within days of the verbal agreement. It appeared
that Weber didn’t want Head under contract for the next GM, and
cancelled the agreement after the physical. Several sources insisted
that there was nothing wrong with the ankle, and Weber’s decision
appears to have made it more difficult for Head, 28, to find a job this
summer.

The team may have wanted to change directions mid-stride, leaving Head in a pretty crummy situation as a result. Then again, unnamed sources always deserve their grains of salt, and there are logical reasons to question pro-Head reports. If everyone knows Head’s cut was bogus, then the effectiveness of the smokescreen would be null, and other teams would have no reason to assume Head is damaged goods. Additionally, isn’t this all a bit much to clear Head’s near-minimum two-year salary off the books?

Still, if Head’s future contract negotiations were affected by New Orleans’ regime change, it’s a pretty raw deal. It’s one thing for the Hornets to decide that they no longer require Head’s services, and another entirely for their contract takesies backsies to harm Head’s other chances at guaranteed money.

Head is now left to fend for a roster spot in the Sacramento Kings camp, with a partially guaranteed, one-year contract. If things did indeed go as Wojnarowski’s sources indicated, I think it’s safe to say that the aftertaste of his dealings with the Hornets may be a tad bitter.

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