First new Hornets owner Tom Benson locked up coach Monty Williams with a multi-year deal. Now the Hornets have locked up general manager Dell Demps to keep their core in place. Smart move, Mr. Benson.
The Hornets have agreed to a multi-year contract extension with Demps, the team announced Friday. (We’re still trying to find out the terms of the deal, we’ll let you know when we do.)
“Dell has a bright future ahead as the GM of our team and Mr. Benson and I couldn’t be more impressed with the track this team is on and are excited about the future,” said Hornets Executive Vice President Mickey Loomis in a released statement. “He has helped shape this organization with the current team of young, talented players and we look forward to seeing the growth of the franchise during this exciting time for the franchise.”
He’s not universally loved among Hornets fans (what GM is?) but Demps has made the Hornets better. Bottom line. He’s smart, well respected around the league and with the team headed in the right direction you don’t break things up.
Demps lucked into the top pick and getting Anthony Davis, but everybody needs a little luck now and again. He’s made smart trades to bring in Ryan Anderson and Robin Lopez to give the Hornets some veterans and consistent bigs to go around Davis. He drafted Austin Rivers, the book is still out on that rookie.
The area of controversy has been the max extension last summer for Eric Gordon. After coming to the Big Easy as part of the Chris Paul trade, Gordon played nine games last season due to a knee injury but still got the four-year, $58 million deal. Davis has angered New Orleans fans by having asked the Hornets not to match the Phoenix Suns’ offer this summer (they Hornets did anyway) and by not playing yet this year due to a knee issue. Even though Hornets doctors have suggested its not structural. Currently Gordon is back in Los Angeles trying to rehab his knee.
We’ll see how the Gordon situation plays out — he could be a key to this team going forward if he gets back on the court. But he has a lot of good will to build up in a community that feels he turned on them.
Despite all that, signing Gordon and not letting a potential key franchise piece walk away for nothing was the right move. Demps has made smart plays all the way around the block and the Hornets made the smart play by locking him up.
Report: Seattle hosting Kings-Warriors preseason game
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said he’d be surprised if Kawhi Leonard played again this season, a stark reversal from just a month ago. Back then, even while announcing Leonard was out indefinitely with a quad injury, the San Antonio coach said Leonard wouldn’t miss the rest of the season.
After spending 10 days before the All-Star break in New York consulting with a specialist to gather a second opinion on his right quad injury, All-NBA forward Kawhi Leonard bears the burden of determining when he’s prepared to play again, sources told ESPN.
Leonard has been medically cleared to return from the right quad tendinopathy injury, but since shutting down a nine-game return to the Spurs that ended Jan. 13, he has elected against returning to the active roster, sources said.
The uncertainty surrounding this season — and Leonard’s future which could include free agency in the summer of 2019 — has inspired a palpable stress around the organization, league sources said.
At first glance, this sounds like Derrick Rose five years ago. Even after he was cleared to play following a torn ACL, the then-Bulls star remained mysterious about when he’d suit up. His confidence in his physical abilities seemed to be a major issue, and he was never the same player since (suffering more leg injuries).
But the Spurs famously favor resting players to preserve long-term health. They seem unlikely to rush back Leonard. They might even sit players who want to play more often. And Leonard isn’t Rose.
Still, it’s clear something is amiss in San Antonio. Maybe not amiss enough to end Leonard’s tenure there, but the longer this lingers, the more time for tension to percolate.
Report: Dennis Smith Jr. planned to have J. Cole dunk in dunk-contest routine
The dunk-contest scoring system – five judges ranking dunks on a scale of 6-10 – is plenty flawed. There should have been a larger difference between the Smith and Victor Oladipo dunks the Dallas point guard mentioned. But Oladipo didn’t advance, either. Personally, I thought the right two players – eventual-winner Donovan Mitchell and runner-up Larry Nance Jr. – advanced.
Maybe Smith was more upset about the missed opportunity – dunks (plural!) involving rapper J. Cole.
If Dennis had made it to the finals, Cole was going to throw him the alley-oop. But then the plan was, he was going to throw him the oop, Dennis would dunk it, and then Cole would catch the ball, and then he’d dunk it too. That was going to be the ill, craziest dunk-contest use of a prop or a person ever. But we never got to saw it, because they were holding out until the final round. They didn’t want to bring it out in the first round.
This certainly would have been unprecedented and cool. But unless Smith had something amazing planned for the alley-oop, the best element would have been Cole dunking. That would have upstaged Smith, who’s presumably the one being judged.
For what it’s worth, Cole can dunk. We’ve seen it in the celebrity game:
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich says he’d be surprised if Kawhi Leonard returns this season
The Spurs (35-24) are third in the West despite Leonard playing just nine games. Popovich has done a great job (maybe Coach of the Year-worthy). LaMarcus Aldridge is having a bounce-back season in a leading role. Pau Gasol leads a supporting cast of players good in their roles.
But San Antonio’s ceiling is so much lower without Leonard.
He’s an elite defender who shuts down opposing scorers on the perimeter and can comfortably switch inside. He can isolate offensively to score efficiently, and he spaces the floor off the ball with strong 3-point shooting. Those are all skills that translate to the playoffs.
Without him, the Spurs rely too heavily on older, slower defenders. That’s ripe to be exploited in the postseason.
Teams might even jockey to match up with San Antonio – the most vulnerable-appearing Western Conference team in line to get home-court advantage in the first round.
Of course, this doesn’t eliminate the possibility of Leonard returning. Popovich could just be trying to shut down speculation. He clearly doesn’t like discussing this issue.
But the Spurs are the most cautious team on injuries. If Leonard risks further injury, they’ll keep him sidelined.
This injury has already caused tension. This won’t help.