According to the eternally-annoying Marc Stein, Darren Collison may be available.
As we've all speculated, the Hornets would want someone to take back a big contract with Collison. However, up until now, I have assumed they wanted to take back a big expiring contract for one of their two big long-term contracts (Posey or Okafor). However, Stein reports that Peja Stojakovic's name could be in the mix. As absurd as it sounds, Peja will be the Hornets' highest-paid player next year. But then he expires. Shopping him+Collison (as the carrot of the deal, so to speak) can only mean one thing: The Hornets want to get out of luxury tax territory now, before 2010-11 starts, and are looking for a team with an abundance of cap space to take back Stojakovic for nothing, in order to cut money off the budget immediately.
Take Miami, for instance. The Heat are a team desperate for a PG, that could also benefit by adding Stojakovic as a veteran three-point specialist. Under the rules, the Heat could theoretically pick up James Jones's option (remember him?) for $4.6 mil and trade it for the combined $16.6 million in salaries of Peja and Collison. This would be completely legal, would leave Miami with $18 million in cap space (or enough to sign Dwyane Wade and another discount vet) and would shave $12 million off of the Hornets' 2010-11 cap number, thus helping them toward their goal of getting under the luxury tax threshold (and saving them $12 million dollar-for-dollar even if they don't get entirely under the threshold). So if Miami couldn't get LeBron or Bosh, wouldn't they be smart to do this? Collison, Wade, Peja, Beasley and Brendan Haywood for the Mid-Level Exception would be a good enough core to make a title run (if Collison pans out), or at least make noise in the East, and the commitment for Peja would be so minimal that if they played their cards right, and didn't overspend this summer (assuming they miss out on LeBron/Bosh) they could afford to offer Carmelo a $15 mil/year deal next summer.
So the point for the Pacers is this: We've always assumed we could make a play for Collison at the expense of paying someone like Okafor for a long time, but with the news that the Hornets could be looking to get rid of Peja, they may be more interested in saving money now, and are in the market to trade Collison to a team that's far under the cap and can absorb most of Peja's deal in exchange for a much cheaper one. Is it in their best interests to trade Peja for immediate dollar-for-dollar relief, or can a team that's over the cap, like the Pacers, still have hope of making a play for Collison by taking back a bad long-term deal like Okafor's?