Aaron Gray, one of the Hornets’ three unrestricted free agents this summer (the others are Sean Marks and Ike Diogu), is the subject of the latest Hornets.com season-review article. Gray is entering a pivotal summer in which he will try to get into better physical condition and set himself up for offers to come in from NBA teams, though his preference is to remain in New Orleans.
“Every summer for a guy like Aaron, who doesn’t necessarily have a long-term contract, is a make-or-break summer,” described Hornets assistant coach and former NBA big man Rob Werdann. “You take a summer off and don’t improve, you might not have a job. But if you put the time in, you set yourself up for one of those contracts.”
Gray sounds optimistic about what he can produce if he’s in better shape. Unfortunately for the 7-footer, a broken leg led to him adding weight early in 2009-10, because he couldn’t run.
“I think teams know what they’re going to get from me,” Gray said of his free-agent prospects. “I think this is kind of the bottom end of what you're going to get from me. Having a full summer to prepare and being healthy is something I’m looking forward to. With me missing 2 1/2 months and then trying to get in shape in-season as so difficult, because it's like, 'do I train hard or do I save myself so I can help the team in games?' It's not full training in-season. This summer will be great for me.”
In addition to physical training, Werdann says continuing to hone his low-post game will benefit Gray greatly. “Developing a go-to move and something that he really feels confident in will be a wise thing,” Werdann said. “He’s already shown some of that.”
The team’s coaches believe that Gray improving his conditioning will help him avoid picking up frequent fouls. Gray’s rate of one personal foul every 5.8 minutes of playing time was second on the New Orleans roster (Marks’ rate was one every 4.4 minutes).