Hornets to move West?

Yesterday, we discussed the possibility of New Orleans trading Chris Paul, and now Henry Abbott of TrueHoop is bringing up the possibility of the Hornets trading David West before the February trade deadline so that they can avoid paying the luxury tax this season.

Yet the Hornets are currently $3.3 million over the tax line and remain prepared to send away Brown in a deal that brings back no guaranteed money, as seen over the summer when New Orleans felt it had to essentially donate Rasual Butler to the Los Angeles Clippers because of the tax benefits.

There is a belief among some rival executives — or perhaps it’s more accurate to call it a hope — that the Hornets will not be able to resist moving All-Star forward David West before the Feb. 18 trading deadline to ensure that they get comfortably under the tax threshold.

New Orleans’ preference would obviously be moving out player(s) from its list of veterans with contracts that stretch beyond this season. That list presumably includes Emeka Okafor, Peja Stojakovic, James Posey, Mo Peterson, Darius Songaila and Julian Wright.

West has two years left on his contract, but he’ll almost certainly terminate the final year since it’s only worth $7.5 million and he’s likely to make more than that in a new deal. If the Hornets trade West, expect Chris Paul to become very unhappy. If the team was so concerned about the luxury tax, it should have thought about that before trading for Peja Stojakovic, signing Morris Peterson and James Posey, and trading for Emeka Okafor. West’s affordable deal is obviously not the problem, but it’s movable and that might appeal to the Hornets.

I still think the team will do what it can to hold on to its nucleus and weather the financial storm. The Okafor trade was a signal that owner George Shinn is willing to spend.

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