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New Orleans Hornets

Accelerating the clock: New Orleans PELICANS Season Preview

Starting Five: PG Jrue Holiday, SG Eric Gordon, SF Al-Farouq Aminu, PF Anthony Davis, C Greg Stiemmsma
Key bench players: G/F Tyreke Evans, PF Ryan Anderson, SF Anthony Morrow, C Jeff Withey
Offseason additions: Holiday, Evans, Stiemmsma, Morrow
Offseason subtractions: PG Greivis Vasquez, C Robin Lopez
FACT OR FICTION: “New Orleans Pelicans” has a good ring to it.
FICTION. Let’s move on.
FACT OR FICTION: The Pelicans did the right thing by trading for Jrue Holiday.
FACT. Potential is a funny thing. It’s impossible to put value on an unknown, so it allows us to overvalue just for the sake of doing so. Nerlens Noel, drafted #1 overall by New Orleans but subsequently traded to Philadelphia, is brimming with potential, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Today’s rim protectors are more valuable than ever because the league is moving toward efficient offenses. For example, the pick and roll is designed to give the ball-handler a plethora of options that result in high percentage shots, such as layups, corner 3s, and any open shots that may force the defense to foul. Furthermore, pairing Noel with Anthony Davis would give the Pelicans TWO protectors, which is a sweet fallback whenever the opposing offense forces one of them into a high-PnR situation.… Read more...

David Stern Was Right – New Orleans Hornets Season Preview

Starting Five: PG Greivis Vasquez, SG Eric Gordon, SF Al-Farouq Aminu, PF Ryan Anderson, F/C Anthony Davis

Key Bench Players: G Austin Rivers, SG Xavier Henry, F Hakim Warrick, PF Jason Smith, C Robin Lopez

Notable offseason additions:
F/C Anthony Davis (1st overall pick), G Austin Rivers (10th overall pick), PF Ryan Anderson, PF Hakim Warrick, C Robin Lopez

Offseason subtractions: SG Marco Belinelli, SF Trevor Ariza, PF Carl Landry, F/C Emeka Okafor, F/C Gustavo Ayon, G Jarrett Jack

David Stern was right. There. I said it.
Perhaps the lesson was hardened right in front of the Commisioner’s eyes. The mid-decade Sacramento Kings rode highly paid veterans to low playoff seeds in the post-Chris Webber era, rather than sell off those parts while they still had value. Now the franchise is in a prolonged rebuilding process, with not only it’s on-court product in trouble, but also the very soil in which the team plays. Yes, the Kings were able to grasp the last remaining threads of relevancy within their reach, but for the very little success they achieved, the organization is now in shambles. This isn’t to say that poor ownership decisions and the city fo Sacramento don’t have anything to do with it, but certainly a winning product on the floor would help allay the massive obstacles the Kings are facing.
Last December, when the commissioner laid down The Veto, this is the situation he hoped to avoid. This squad that I just listed is the team he had in mind to take the floor for the 2012-2013 season. No, he didn’t want 30-something vets with eight figure contracts like Luis Scola, Kevin Martin, Emeka Okafor and Lamar Odom staying for the short term. Sure, they’d either make the playoffs or remain on just the fringes of contention, but a swift four-game first round exit would be at the expense of any long-term growth for a franchise that’s struggled for so long. Stern was hoping that the 2011-2012 edition of the Hornets would have valuable young pieces like Eric Gordon and Al-Farouq Aminu, but what he surreptitiously pined for was the team being awful enough that they could acquire a franchise-saving high lottery draft choice. No doubt citing the Clippers, Magic and Cavaliers…twice as recent examples, David Stern had no choice but as acting “owner” of the Hornets to kibosh the potential trade that would have sent Chris Paul to the Los Angeles Lakers. For it, he’d get an impudent young guard and a trademarked unibrow. Not a bad haul.

This Hornets team is the fruits of Sterns’ bloodletting. From just the sheer physical presence of Anthony Davis, you can see that he’s a potential all-league superstar. There’s no amount of superlatives that can adequately describe exactly how impactful he can be. Still, we’re talking about a 19 year-old kid, who won’t be 20 until the 70th game of the season. I suspect that at the very least he’ll be a force on the defensive end immediately, seeing as he showed a hunger on that end of the floor, while most young men his age are only focused on scoring. I’m not sure if he’s the type of rebounding savant that Dwight Howard was in his rookie season, but he’s shown nothing besides maximum effort on the court. Offensively, he’ll have a lot to learn, but the pure unorthodox combination of his size, length and agility that will allow him to put up 12 to 15 points per game. He’ll quickly become the face of the team publicly (if he isn’t already), which won’t be great ae

Instant Trade Analysis: Lewis for Okafor and Ariza

Washington Wizards get:
Emeka Okafor, Trevor Ariza

New Orleans Hornets get:
The document that legalizes the robbery by Rashard Lewis of 23.7 million dollars from any NBA franchise, Washington’s 2nd round pick (46th overall)

We’ve got LeBron James’ PR team in the final planning stages of his Finals MVP acceptance speech and the Anthony Davis Experience ready to begin next week. So it’s the perfect time to post about a trade that nobody cares about:

What this means for the Wizards:

Emeka Okafor is an above-average post defender and can protect the rim when fully healthy. The Zardos took an interesting buy-low approach on him, because Okafor’s season ended prematurely due to various injuries. Word around town is that New Orleans didn’t like his attitude and that he took his time getting back on the court. He is owed approximately $28 million over the next two years, but when you trade $23.7 million, you have to take some salary back. Okafor isn’t the ideal asset to acquire via trade, but at least he can give you some good minutes, which is something we can’t say for Rashard Lewis. However, Okafor (and Ariza) will be joining a crowded frontcourt in D.C. It will be interesting to see how the minutes are distributed among the bigs, with Nene, Kevin Seraphin, Trevor Booker, Chris Singleton, Jan Vesely, and Andray Blatche’s corpse all vying for minutes.

Trevor Ariza had a short-lived stay on the relevance chart when he started at small forward for YOUR Los Angeles Lakers during the 2009 Finals run. Miffed when the Show didn’t offer a long-term deal worth more than the mid-level exception, Ariza signed the same deal that was on the table with LA, but with the Houston Rockets. And so started his path to nothingness. He will always be a bit of a defensive stopper due to his length and athleticism, but the other areas of his game have not moved. Additionally, Ariza will make a little more than $7M next year, with a player option for 2013. A change of scenery might help, however, as the former UCLA Bruin could start right away. There may be a ton of alley-oops from John Wall in his future.

Washington holds the #3 pick in next week’s Draft, and this trade likely signals the arrival of Florida standout shooting guard Bradley Beal (pictured left) in the nation’s capital. Small forwards like Kentucky’s Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and North Carolina’s Harrison Barnes are still in the mix, but with the aforementioned crowded frontcourt, Beal is probably the best fit. I guess MKG can play the 2, but for the sanity of Wall and friend of the blog AO, let’s hope that Barnes has been crossed off the list.

What this means for the Hornets:

New Orleans will have the option of buying out Lewis for $13.7 million. Jesus.

The real value for new owner Tom Benson, is not in the value contained within this deal, but what the franchise can do because of this deal. If Lewis is bought out, coupled with the shedding of the contracts of Okafor and Ariza, the team will have the requisite salary cap space to re-sign Eric Gordon. Gordon would shoulder the scoring load, allowing Anthony Davis to be free from the burden of being a two-way player before he is fully ready.

Who wins?

I like this deal for both teams. The Wizards continue the reshaping of their roster, and can neutralize the added salary by amnesty-ing Blatche. The Hornets, already with Davis and the 10th overall selection, now have the ability to match any offer for Gordon.… Read more...

Instant Trade Analysis: Anthony Davis to the New Orleans Hornets

David Stern gets: Tom Benson to buy the New Orleans Hornets from the NBA

New Orleans Hornets get: PF Anthony Davis via the number one pick in the 2012 NBA Draft

That wasn’t a joke, but not in the way you think.

I’m not a conspiracy theorist. I don’t believe that Jordan was suspended in 1993 for gambling, nor do I believe that Patrick Ewing was snuck under the table to the New York Knicks in 1985. And I don’t think that the formerly NBA-owned New Orleans Hornets were gifted the number one pick through nefarious means as a sort of incentive for the NFL Saints’ owner Tom Benson buying the team.

However, when David Stern named “basketball reasons” as the main logic behind vetoing the Chris Paul to the Lakers trade, he was directly referring to this possible outcome. What the Commish wanted wasn’t for a team filled with crafty vets like Kevin Martin, Luis Scola, Lamar Odom and Emeka Okafor to make the playoffs as an easy first-round out, leaving them with middling draft prospects, little salary cap room and no young players. Stern wanted the team to be left without cap-clogging contracts (like that of Martin and Scola) and a high draft pick, so that the new owner could re-make the Hornets in whatever vision he saw fit. Although he couldn’t have projected that New Orleans would be bestowed with such fortune as the number one overall pick, he certainly knew exactly what he was doing when he changed the course of the 2011-2012 NBA season mid-December.

Anthony Davis isn’t just a great power forward with a lot of tools – he’s a potential franchise-changing big man. “The Brow”, an unfortunate nickname bestowed upon him in honor of the “unique” haircut directly above his eyes, legendarily grew 8 inches between his freshman and junior years in high school. As a 6’4″ sophomore, Davis learned how to play the game as a guard rather than a big. Thus, as you’ve seen his entire year at Kentucky, Davis has one of the most complete packages available in any prospect this side of LeBron James.

Still a teenager, Davis is already a defensive difference maker. He led the nation in blocks, and he looks like an elite rebounder. He has a fantastic motor, rarely quits on plays, and most of all, seems to relish defending. Offensively he’s still a bit raw, but has shown the propensity to put the ball on the floor much like a guard, as mentioned above. However, with great hands and a seemingly high basketball IQ, the biggest knock on Davis is that he needs to put on weight an muscle. If this entire description of him seems a bit cliche, it’s because in his frenshman season at Kentucky, the Brow has shown scouts everything they’ve wanted to see out of someone who could be an NBA superstar.

For the Hornets, this is a complete game-changer for the future of the franchise. The team currently has a bunch of building blocks in Eric Gordon, Emeka Okafor, Al-Farouq Aminu, Greivis Vasquez and Gustavo Ayon, but no one that anyone would project to break out and lead the Hornets to anything better than the late lottery. Davis surely won’t make the team an overnight contender, but he certainly could help elevate them to fringe playoff contention, much like Derrick Rose, LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony in their first years. He’s coach Monty Williams’ dream prospect – a defensive-minded star who will commit himself fully to doing anything to win.

New Orleans needed this, not just to resucitate their franchise, but also to … Read more...

If I were the GM of…The New Orleans Hornets

I just watched 2 more New Orleans Hornets games this season than I was prepared to watch. It’s really a shame to watch Chris Paul at the height of his powers, showing everyone that everyone’s coronation of Rajon Rondo, Deron Williams or even the MVP Derrick Rose as the best point guards in the league was incredibly premature. Truthfully, CP3’s best teammate in his just completed playoff series was the Lakers’ arrogance and apathetic play. With David West injured, Trevor Ariza was his best teammate, followed by Carl Landry, Emeka Okafor, Jarrett Jack, Aaron Gray and Marco Bellinelli. In no universe, should those guys be your 2 through 6 when you’re in the playoffs. If you scour NOLA’s roster holdovers from this year, along with their salary commitments, it’s not hard to see why talk of Chris Paul leaving the team is such incessant digital chatter. Their series against the Lakers is a testament to how great Chris Paul is, as he dragged 14 stiffs to a playoff spot that had no business taking in the first place. This team is an absolute mess, and if I were the GM, I would have no shortage of work to do.

Chris Paul: 16.35 million
Emeka Okafor: 12.5 million
David West: 7.2 million (player option)
Trevor Ariza: 6.8 million
Jarrett Jack: 5.2 million
David Andersen: 2.7 million (team option)
Marco Bellinelli: 3.37 million
Jason Smith: 3.13 million
Quincy Pondexter: 1.15 million
Aaron Gray: 1.12 million
Total: 50.7 million

Marcus Banks: 4.7 million
Willie Green: 3.9 million
Carl Landry: 3 million
DJ Mbenga: 1 million
A bunch of dudes: 500,000
Total: 13.1 million

1). You can’t trade Chris Paul

I’ll tackle this one first, obviously. Like Dwight Howard, Chris Paul has an player option for the 2012-2013 season, which he will most likely decline. But the reason to retain rather than trade Chris Paul is more a business decision that’s going to be handed down by the league than anything else.

A little more than a year ago, the NBA bought and took stewardship of the Hornets, until a new owner could be found. The hope is that the new owner would be a little bit more free-spending than the notoriously cheap and league-wide detested former owner George Shinn, and more importantly, keep the franchise in New Orleans. So until the team is bought, the league has to treat this team like a used car – the engine might be junked and the future very well could be bleak, but keep that thing clean and running well enough for a test drive.

Without Chris Paul, the Hornets are awful – a borderline lottery team with no young player to build around. But some would argue “if you are going to sell the team and Chris Paul is probably going to leave anyway, why don’t you trade him for some young pieces and show a new owner that perhaps the team will be good in the next couple years”. A fair point. But let’s look at a team like Memphis, for example. They are riding high now with just the fourth 8th seed upset in league history and have a pretty good team with Z-Bo, Pau’s brother, Rudy Gay, Mike Conley and OJ Mayo. But when they traded Pau Gasol 3 years ago, could you see that? I don’t think anyone expected Rudy Gay would be as good as he is now, Z-Bo was nowhere in sight and Mike Conley was going to theme parties at college in Ohio. That team looked like it had no future with a roster filled with Hakim Warrick, Kyle Lowry, Javaris Crittendon and Kwame Brown. My point is, that even if you are to trade a superstar like Chris Paul, the f… Read more...

Lakers Recap: Arrogance is contagious

Maybe this is arrogant, but I am writing this in the third quarter of the game. I consider myself a typical Laker fan, at least as far as extremely dedicated fans go. And speaking for my peoples, I think our attitude towards our team mirrors the team’s attitude in themselves – extreme arrogance. As soon as the Lakers heard they drew the New Orleans Hornets in the first round, a team let out a collective snicker and I wouldn’t be surprised if someone wrote on the locker room white board “HANDLED”. They absolutely owned NOLA in the regular season and they just lost their second best player to injury. The show let their overconfidence take over. They took this team extremely lightly and everyone, including the fans and the media, forgot that Chris Paul is one of the best players in the league. They played without passion and let guys like Aaron Gray, Willie Green and Jarrett Jack beat them.

But that’s all in the past now. The Lakers didn’t play their best last night, but forced enough turnovers and played excellent defense after the first quarter to win. The Mamba Monster was awakened and Kobe unleashed a couple of dunks now reserved for only a few precious times during the year. Pau and Andrew were once again playing 7-footer volleyball and Derek Fisher is slowly morphing into Playoff Derek Fisher. Most importantly, the Lakers have pushed the Hornets to the brink. And since losing game 6 to the Celtics in 2008, the Lakers have played 9 games in which they could close out the series. They have gone 8 – 1 in that span, with the only loss coming against the Houston Rockets in 2008, who I have compared these young Hornets to in the past. Hopefully the Lakers look at this game as an opportunity to end the series and rest up before a potential dog fight with Portland or Dallas.

And yes, I finished writing this before the end of the third quarter. We won by 16. It’s not arrogance if you’re right – it’s confidence.

Good thing this is the internet, otherwise I’d probably just have gotten punched in the face for that line.… Read more...

Lakers Recap: 7 Footer Keep-Away

My assessment of last night’s contest between YOUR…Los Angeles Lakers and the New Orleans Hornets? Exactly what should have happened in game 1 and what will happen in the next two games – exploit the inside and overwhelm the New Orleans front line with size. Carl Landry, Emeka and Aaron Gray can play us tough for a little while, but after a couple of quarters, there is something extremely demoralizing about seeing two 7 footers play keep-away with the basketball above your heads for 48 straight minutes. Add in the fact that Lamar has the same length, you have 3 guys that are bringing you back to your formative childhood years – your older brother takes the basketball and hold it over your head, too high for you to get it. Pretty sure Emeka’s therapy bills are going to be through the roof next week.

I noticed that New Orleans absolutely packed the paint for the first quarter and a half, making it hard for Pau and Andrew to gain inside position on them. However, midway through the second, that dissapated a bit – because they were doing this in hopes that it would dare us to shoot. Kobe was more than happy to oblige. He dropped 30 last night. That might have helped.

Also, saw a little bit of Playoff-Time Derek Fisher last night. He miraculously finished lay-ups and made his jumpers last night. I’ll be more than happy to stomach 82 games of 37% field goal shooting if he plays like that for the next two months.
Defensively, we did exactly what we needed to do – we let Chris Paul take his outside shots, played the defensive lanes as well as we could and provided pretty good defensive rotations to force turnovers – essentially, we allowed CP3 to try to beat us on his own, which has to be the game plan considering NOLA’s next best player is Trevor Ariza (who had a great first quarter, but nothing else to speak of).

Lakers in 5.…

Laker Recap: It’s not just Derek Fisher

Every time that the Lakers lose, especially when they get eviscerated by a point guard, as they did yesterday by Senor Paul, all of Lakerdom likes to come down on our man Derek Fisher. A lot of that is warranted – Fisher’s defense was akin to Dr. Stephen Hawkings’, as CP3 went for 34-7-14 (with 3 steals and only 2 turnovers). But there are two big reasons why the Lakers lost –

1). Poor, poor, POOR, poorpoor perimeter defense

The Lakers allowed 52% shooting for 109 points. Incredible work for the Hornets, especially against one of the better defensive teams in the league. However, what is even more incredible is that it wasn’t Emeka Okafor (4 points in 21 minutes) or David West (out for the playoffs) scoring on the block – it was Marco Bellinelli, Jarrett Jack and Willie Green were responsible for over a third of those points. There is no scenario in which those three should account for their team’s points, unless those teams have names that rhyme with “Shmobcats” or “Kavaliers”. Shannon Brown, Derek Fisher, Matt Barnes and yes, even perennial All-NBA Defensive team stalwart Kobe Bryant were rendered immobile on high screens and allowed all three of those guys to beat them both off the dribble and on the fast break ROUTINELY. Chris Paul got wherever he wanted and set everyone up with perfect shots. The Hornets got 52 points in the key, most of which was from those 4 guards and some tall forward named Aaron Gray, whose name sounds more like a paint brand than it does an athlete.

Maybe more importantly, LA’s pressure defense was turrible; the Lakers only forced 3 turnovers from a Hornets team that aren’t exactly the most careful in the league, yielding the 12th most turnovers this season.

2) Pau was only the second best Gasol who played last night

And I’m not even counting his little brother, who plays high school ball in Memphis. I guess I gotta go use the internet.

I dont even need to justify this with statistics – Pau was abused last night by Emeka Okafor, Jason Smith (who?) and the paint brand guy. Ridiculous for someone who might be 2nd-team All-NBA this season.

I’m not going to say stuff like “take nothing away from the Hornets” or “you’ve got to respect New Orleans” – Eff. That. That team is terrible. They don’t deserve to be in the playoffs. The Lakers absolutely gave this game away by playing carelessly and without passion. As Lamar said after the game, they were arrogant and took the Hornets lightly. The Hornets were allowed to win because the Lakers didn’t move their feet on defense and one man, Chris Paul, set the tone for the game. So take nothing away from Chris Paul, but the Lakers lost this one, not the other way around.… Read more...