Hornets making all the right moves so far

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 1, 2005

When you are near the worst record in the history of the sport that you are playing in, there is not much more room to fall down.

The New Orleans Hornets, at least in my opinion are on their way up.

At the trade deadline, it was addition by subtraction for the Hornets.

General Manager Allen Bristow pulled off a pair of moves that will help the Hornets.

Now, don’t get me wrong, this season is acomplete wash. There is absolutely no way that New Orleans can make it to the playoffs. Bristow has his eyes on 2005-06.

In the first deal of the day, Bristow shipped injury-plagued Jamal Mashburn and Rodney Rogers to the Philadelphia 76ers for Glenn “Big Dog” Robinson.

The biggest move here is that Bristow got Mashburn’s contract off the Hornets’ books. Mashburn was owed a ton of money this year and next and was a parasite eating on the salary cap wiggle room of New Orleans.

One of the few mistakes that Bristow made during the off-season, Rogers was not adapting well to the Byron Scott system and showed signs of his age and was really beginning to slow down as a player. Did I mention that his contract is now off the books?

Granted, Robinson has not played a game this year and probably will not the rest of the season, but he has an expiring contract at the end of this season and there is no way that the Hornets will or want to resign him.

Mashburn and Rogers for salary cap room. Remember that.

Now to the big trade of the day.

New Orleans shipped injury-plagued and disgruntled point guard Baron Davis to the Golden State Warriors for Speedy Claxton and Dale Davis.

Seemingly never healthy, Davis was a max player in terms of contract money and hit against the salary cap and moving him clears more room under the cap for New Orleans.

The move also signifies in my opinion that Dan Dickau has won the confidence and trust of the coaching staff and front office. The point guard position is his now, and look for him to sign a long-term deal in the off-season.

The acquisition of Claxton and Davis and their expiring contracts at the end of this season are also big. Look for New Orleans to perhaps resign Davis as a valuable backup for P.J. Brown and a insurance policy for Jamaal Magloire.

So what did New Orleans get for Davis? More salary cap room.

With a ton of money to spend during the off-season, one would hope that the Hornets will be major players in the free-agent market. Look for the Hornets to also sign some of their own free agents, mainly Dickau.

New Orleans would also be smart to resign Casey Jacobson, the sharp-shooting guard. Jacobson provides you with a very capable outside threat and is one of the most athletic players on the court night in and night out.

Bristow said the biggest goal for the organization was to get bigger, faster, more athletic and younger.

New Orleans will without a doubt have one of the top picks in the upcoming draft and will have the chance to acquire a real difference maker early on. Add that to a young backcourt duo of Dickau and the ever-improving J.R. Smith and the Hornets are quietly becoming a much better team very quickly.

The big question now is Bristow has acquired the funds to become a bigger player in the off-season. Will owner George Shinn allow him to spend it?