How much better does Anthony Davis make the Hornets?

17 Comments

In our instant world — where we can download almost any song ever written in seconds, where even our oatmeal is instant — we don’t like to wait for things. If it takes more than three clicks I’m frustrated.

But building an NBA team to contention is an exercise in patience. Well, except in Miami. But that’s the exception, usually teams are built more like Oklahoma City — draft well, make some trades and try to bring together a team that will grow into a contender.

That is what’s happening in New Orleans. That is what this draft and getting Anthony Davis means in the Big Easy — the Hornets are not going to be good next season, but there is a path to future contender laid out now. The foundation is there.

The hardest thing to acquire in building a contender is the franchise player. There just are not a lot of LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant kind of guys out there. Bobcats general manager Rich Cho says with his rating system he thinks there are fewer than 10 true franchise guys in the NBA right now.

Anthony Davis could be one of those guys.

You never know with a draft pick, there’s always risk, but Davis has graded out with scouts as well as anybody coming out of college in years. He is long, athletic, thinks defense first, is efficient on offense (he had the highest PER in college last year) and he has a good work ethic. He could be the franchise anchor that gives New Orleans a defensive stopper and a rebounder, plus he can score and his offensive game will improve.

New Orleans also has Eric Gordon, probably the best young two-guard in the game. He came to them as part of the Chris Paul trade and if you forgot how good he is remember how important he became for Team USA at the FIBA World Championships in Turkey. That was Durant’s team, but Gordon’s role really grew through the tournament.

After this draft (also with the No. 10 pick) the Hornets will have a core of players they can start to build around. They have a coach in Monty Williams who last season got a weak roster to play hard, defend and get the most out of what they have. They have a very smart GM in Dell Demps.

The Hornets will come out of this draft with the foundation of a future contender. It’s a long way to go to get there, but New Orleans has the path to the title.

And that is a great place to be as a fan, if you can just be patient.

Larry Nance Jr. to wear father’s retired No. 22 Cavaliers jersey

Leave a comment

Larry Nance Jr. took on the 2018 NBA Dunk Contest in his dad’s old Phoenix Suns jersey, which was a nice nod to the father-son NBA duo. But Nance Jr. wanted to be able to wear his pop’s No. 22 jersey in Ohio despite the team retiring those digits some time ago.

Now, he has his wish.

According to the team, Nance Jr. will get to wear No. 22 the rest of the season. Nance Sr.’s banner will still hang at The Q in honor of his contribution to the franchise.

Via Twitter:

Will this spur a new round of jersey sales like the one prompted by Dwyane Wade‘s return to the Miami Heat? Probably not, although folks do dig those late-’80s and early-’90s Cavs uniforms. Perhaps the team should do a re-issue?

Shouts to the team for making a special accommodation for the Nance family. It’s nice to see a team not be so stiff about something this cool.

Report: NBA setting up confidential hotline for team employees to report workplace issues

Getty Images
3 Comments

In the Dallas Mavericks organization, women who were being sexually harassed by the CEO and others did exactly what they were supposed to do — they reported the incidents to their supervisors and the head of Human Relations in the organization. Nothing happened. The men kept their jobs, the women kept on being harassed — some had their jobs threatened if they spoke out — and the old boys networked thrived.

The NBA is giving future employees in that situation another option. From Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

It’s a good first step.

The NBA is a league that prides itself on being progressive, promoting equality, and this Mavericks scandal is a black eye for the league on this front. While they will wait for the hired team of lawyers to finish their investigation before any punishment is handed out — and there will be punishment — the league needs to take proactive steps now. This is a good one. There needs to be more.

Already? Giannis Antetokounmpo says Joel Embiid tried to recruit him to Sixers

Getty Images
3 Comments

The Greek Freak (now trademarked) Giannis Antetokounmpo is going to be a Buck for a while — he has three fully guaranteed years on his contract after this one, taking him until at least the summer of 2021. At that point, Milwaukee almost certainly will be able to offer him the designated player super max contract that will be hard to turn down. The Greek Freak is going to be in Milwaukee for a long time.

That didn’t stop Joel Embiid, who tried to recruit Antetokounmpo to Sixers during All-Star weekend. Via Matt Velazquez of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

“He told me I should trust the process and come play for Philly,” Antetokounmpo said with a chuckle, drawing a laugh. “That was my reaction — I just laughed.”

Of course, if somewhere down the line Antetokounmpo and Embiid team up some tinfoil hat conspiracy theorist will say “they have been planning this since 2018.”

Embiid probably did this tongue in cheek, but he is fearless about this stuff — remember a couple of summers ago he tried to recruit Kevin Durant through social media.

As for Antetokounmpo and the Sixers, nothing to see here, move along.

Rumor: Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert might not offer LeBron James no-trade clause in next contract

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
8 Comments

The Cavaliers’ three deadline-day trades appear to have invigorated LeBron James, but a key issue remains as LeBron’s player option approaches: Dan Gilbert still owns the Cavs.

Howard Beck of Bleacher Report:

“LeBron wants to be in charge of everything, which is what puts him at odds with Dan,” one source said. “Dan wants to be in charge of everything.”

The belief is that Gilbert, having reasserted control after chasing out Griffin, will rebuff James’ request for a no-trade clause, or any other measures that give him leverage. And that will be enough to drive James away.

“Dan Gilbert’s not going to do what it takes to keep him,” the same source predicted. “Not a chance in hell he’s going to give him a no-trade clause, or let him dictate contract terms.”

LeBron’s no-trade clause might have been useful this season. When things got particularly bad in Cleveland, he affirmed he wouldn’t waive it. I doubt the Cavs would have dealt him regardless, but he made it a certainty.

But a no-trade clause was relevant only because LeBron signed a multi-year contract due to salary-cap rules relevant in 2016. With those no longer pertinent, he might go back to the 1+1 deals he first signed in his return to Cleveland. That’d give him an implicit no-trade clause, as those contracts are treated as one-year deals until the option is exercised, and players on one-year contracts who’d have early or full Bird Rights after can veto any trade.

Still, Gilbert taking this stance would matter if LeBron wants to sign long-term. An official no-trade clause would also carry over to LeBron’s next team if he approves a trade or in the second year of a 1+1 if he opts in. The implicit no-trade would not.

That could be enough for LeBron to demand the official no-trade clause – not just for the possibility it’s useful, but to show he can get it. He seems unwilling to give an inch. It’s about respect.

It also might be about stubbornness – both LeBron’s and Gilbert’s. This would be a ridiculous battleground for LeBron’s Cavaliers tenure to end on – just give LeBron whatever contract he wants – but it wouldn’t be the first ridiculous showdown between Gilbert and LeBron.