Chris Paul, David West want changes to Hornets. Good luck with that.

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It was a disappointing season for New Orleans, even before Chris Paul got injured. A team a couple years ago was THE up and coming team to fear is very pedestrian now. About as scary as a kitten. Just 37 wins will do that.

Chris Paul doesn’t like that. David West doesn’t like that. They want changes and told the Times Picayune just that.

“I don’t think anybody can feel they are an untouchable,” West said. “I thought what we had this year just wasn’t good enough to stay in the hunt, even with the injuries. I think the only thing to do is to look at improving the roster.”

“What we did this year, obviously didn’t work,” Paul said. “So there is definitely going to be a little change. We’ve got to get better all around. Hopefully, we’ll do pretty well in the draft and we’ve got to get healthy.”

Healthy matters, Paul missed 37 games this season. But changes are coming to the Hornets, top to bottom. A sale of the team to Gary Chouest as a new owner is at the top, and that will mean changes down the line.

Part of that will be a new coach. This was a team that did not stick to game plans, did not exploit mismatches, simply did not execute well. They fired Byron Scott at the start of the season in part because of that, whoever comes in next needs to bring some execution with them.

However, the biggest changes to the roster will be harder to pull off. The move may be to move Peja Stojakovic. He is a nice player, but one getting paid big star money — $15 million next season. But it is the last year of his deal, which means either this summer or at the trading deadline they may be able to move him for a player and/or picks. They may be able to do some addition by subtraction.

The Hornets found they have some good young talent — Darren Collison, Marcus Thornton — to go with Paul and West. A couple other little moves, a little better execution, and the Hornets will have some sting again. Strike some fear into opponents again.

Josh Jackson’s first pitch is… just a bit outside

Associated Press
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Josh Jackson is not going Bo Jackson on us and playing baseball in the offseason.

The highly-rated forward out of Kansas who was the No. 4 pick of the Phoenix Suns was invited to throw out the first pitch before Friday night’s Diamondbacks game.

To quote Bob Uecker, he was just a bit outside. He tried the corner and missed.

Lonzo Ball was able to make his first pitch, ergo, he will turn out to be a much better NBA player. Obviously, these skills correlate.

Report: Re-signing Nerlens Noel Mavericks’ top off-season priority

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This is a Mark Cuban owned team, you don’t think the Mavericks are going to make a serious run at a free agent come July 1? Pelicans’ point guard Jrue Holiday has long been known to be a target, but there will be others.

But keeping their new core together, including restricted free agent Nerlens Noel, is the top priority, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.

Rumors like this are out there in part from Dallas to hope to chill the market for Noel. While he could be a defensive force who provides some scoring around the rim, with Noel’s injury history they may be able to get him at less than max money — because if he’s at the max the Mavericks are flirting with the luxury tax (and Cuban isn’t going to want to pay the tax for a borderline playoff team at best).

What Dallas fears is what Brooklyn did last season to Allen Crabbe in Portland and Tyler Johnson in Miami — some team to come in with a max or near-max offer sheet that drives up the price. Dallas will match, they will keep the young core together, it just gets more expensive.

Next season in Dallas will be a deserved big farewell to Dirk Nowitzki. He will be the focus, but behind him Dallas will try to be building for the future. They made the trade deadline move to make sure Noel is a part of that, the only question now is how much it costs them.

Magic Johnson on drafting Lonzo Ball: “what I needed was a leader”

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Nobody, not even his critics with the Lakers, question that D'Angelo Russell had talent. What they questioned from the start was his work ethic and maturity. I was told by sources with the team he often was the last one to team meetings, often one of the first out of the gym, and the whole Nick Young thing spoke to the maturity question. Byron Scott took a lot of heat as Lakers’ coach for benching him, and Scott’s communication skills were lacking, but he had reasons. Russell also just 21 and maybe he finds his way, but the Lakers weren’t willing to wait anymore.

Which is why the Lakers were willing to move him to Brooklyn in the Brook Lopez trade, and why the Lakers went after Lonzo Ball in the draft, Magic Johnson said, via Baxter Holmes of ESPN.

Is Lonzo Ball a leader? Only time will tell, he has the potential.

Will players want to play with him? Yes, if the passing skills he showed in college transfer to the NBA. If guys know they will get the rock if they run/cut, then they will do just that. It’s some simple B. F. Skinner stuff here — if players are rewarded they will keep doing it. Get them the rock in transition and they will get out there every time.

Ball has flaws in his game, there are certainly questions about his defense, and how that awkward shot translates remains to be seen (it goes in but his time to get it off will decrease at the NBA level)? Will he be a scoring threat in the half-court? He’s got work to do. But answer those questions and the Lakers may have the key piece to help anchor a franchise he’s been looking for.

Sacramento Kings waive guard Arron Afflalo

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) The Sacramento Kings have waived guard Arron Afflalo one year after signing him as a free agent.

The Kings cut ties with Afflalo on Friday before his entire $12.5 million contract for 2017-18 would become guaranteed. Afflalo will get $1.5 million instead.

Afflalo averaged 8.4 points and 2 rebounds in 61 games this past season for Sacramento. He has averaged 11.3 points per game in his 10-year career.