Tag: Gary Chouest

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Hornets attendance slump could let them break lease, move

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Wins or not, Chris Paul or not, getting people to come to New Orleans Hornets games has not been easy. Frankly, it wasn’t easy when the team was the Jazz and Pistol Pete putting on the show. Today little has changed.

The current downward slump in attendance will trigger a clause in the Hornets current lease agreement with the state that could allow them to move, according to the Times Picayune.

If the Hornets do not average crowds of at least 14,213 for the next 13 games at the New Orleans Arena, the franchise can opt out of its current lease agreement with the state, according to Doug Thornton, vice president of SMG, the company that manages the Arena and the Superdome.

Despite a franchise-record start, the Hornets have experienced a decline in attendance. This season, attendance has dipped to an average of 14,214 over the first eight games, which ranks 25th in the 30-team league. Last season, the Hornets averaged 15,072 for 42 home dates. The New Orleans Arena seats 17,188 for NBA games.

Of course, the potential sale of the team plays into this. Current but outgoing owner George Shinn seems the type that would seriously consider other offers. Incoming owner Gary Chouest is a gulf energy guy and a New Orleans guy who seems unlikely to move the team. But the sale has yet to go through.

The Hornets are not imminently on the move. But this is a situation worth watching.

Chris Paul loves David West, wants it to work in Big Easy

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And the Chris Paul happiness train rolls on….

CP3 expounded to Ian Thompson of Sports Illustrated on a few issues, all ones that are good reasons to stay in New Orleans long term. That starts with David West.

“I trust him more than anybody in this league,” Paul told me last week in New Orleans. “Out of everybody in the whole NBA, that’s my guy. We’ve been together for six years — six years! — and I trust him with anything. My fiancée and his wife are like best friends. Basketball-wise and off the court, I trust him.”

“When decisions are made [on the team], everyone always says, ‘It’s [up to] Chris,'” said Paul. “But it’s really up to me and D-West. I mean, D-West was here before I got here. You ask these guys on the team they’ll be, like, ‘C, what time do you want me to practice tomorrow?’ I’ll be like, ‘D-West, what time do you want to practice tomorrow?’ Because D-West is like my big brother, has always been.”

Just for the record, I like it when the coaching staff decides when practice is. Just write it on the white board in the locker room after the game, assume that your players are smart enough to read and show up on time. Like professionals. That’s just me.

In the end for Paul, it’s about a chance to win.

“Tony Parker is a really good friend of mine,” said Paul. “When they beat us [in the second round of the 2008 playoffs], after Game 7 we didn’t talk for about a week because I was kind of upset — and he let me know about that, too, when I did get a chance to talk to him. But he was like, ‘CP, man, you’re about one guy away.’ At the time, we could count on me and D-West to give us 25 and 25, but you’ve got to have that third scorer consistently. He was breaking it down to me with [the Spurs],where some nights him and Timmy [Duncan] would have it on, and if he didn’t have it on, Manu [Ginobili] would pick it up.”

Getting that third player — winning, in truth — will come down to the sale of the team and the pocketbook of incoming owner Gary Chouest. For that reason, the sale of the team from the tight-fisted George Shinn is the other key to keeping CP3 in New Orleans. That is supposed to be happening. Soon. Just like it was in April, but they mean it now.

Again, we’re in the wait and see camp with CP3. This summer Paul’s people did push for a direction — either get serious about winning or move him. Paul is happy and the Hornets are winning in November. We’ll see what tune he’s playing after the playoffs and next summer. Maybe it will still be some sweet New Orleans jazz. Maybe. But we want to wait and see.

Hornets are winning and Chris Paul says he’s happy

Miami Heat v New Orleans Hornets

Everything looks better when you are 11-1.

Your teammates are funnier, the baskets look bigger, your legs are fresher, the Gatorade doesn’t taste like flavored sweat, and your front office and coach can do no wrong.

So no shock that Chris Paul says he’s happy now, like he told FanHouse. Sure, his people were pushing for him to get moved this summer, but now everything is good at 11-1.

“Yeah, I’m happy,” he said with a smile after a gritty 75-71 win in which he shot just 2 of 12 from the field for four points but had 14 assists despite the Hornets shooting just 32.2 percent. “I’m happy. We’re good to go.”

Perhaps the most interesting part of the Sam Amick article was this:

Perhaps most importantly of all, there are reports that the team’s ownership change from George Shinn to Gary Chouest that was supposed to be completed by the end of April should indeed happen by the end of the year. Sources closes to Paul insisted all along that his concerns about the Hornets were rooted in a fear that Shinn was either financially unable or unwilling to take the necessary steps to contend for a title.

Those would be valid concerns, the Hornets were stripping salary under the famously tight fisted Shinn. The sale is not complete but already there is $15 million in additional salary and the focus seems to be back on making good basketball moves. General Manager Dell Demps seems to have room to operate.

Fast start not withstanding, the Hornets are still a few steps behind the Lakers and likely steps behind the Spurs and Thunder as well in a seven-game series. The only question becomes when that gets exposed in the playoffs, will CP3 be as happy? Next summer he will have something he did not have — leverage because his contract is in its last year.

But right now the Hornets are trying, the team is winning and all seems right with the world.

Hornets’ sale down to final details. Still.

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New Orleans General Manager Dell Demps spoke to the media and among the topics was the sale of the team from George Shinn to Gary Chouest — the one thing more than any that could decide the future of the franchise and if Chris Paul stays.

That sale has been close but stalled since the summer. Right now… same. Close but working on the details, Demps said. The guys from Hornets247 were in the room and this is how they put it:

It is not complete, but it’s in “dotting the i’s, crossing the t’s” phase and that part takes more time than coming to the larger agreement.  Both owners support (Demps) completely and he has yet to have a move he wanted to make meet with resistance on that front.

Demps is getting a lot of praise for the Hornets fast start, but it’s all going to go for nothing if the ownership situation isn’t sorted out. It may not have been a problem yet, but that many chefs in the kitchen is a recipe for trouble at some point.

Saturday Starting Five: Underground storylines before the season tip

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Hey, so, you’re stuck with me on the weekends, so I thought we’d put together something you can count on. Every weekend here at PBT we’ll have the Saturday Starting Five. Five elements, chosen thematically (so I’m not just basically vomiting words onto a screen for you) and brought for discussion about the NBA. Today’s topic? Five underrated storylines as we head towards the season.

The Orlando Motivated Monstrous Machine

A team with Dwight Howard, Vince Carter, Jameer Nelson, Rashard Lewis, and J.J. Redick comes into the season as almost a nondescript non-entity. A team that reached the Finals a year ago enters the season as an afterthought. And a team that annihilated its opponents in the preseason enters without a peep (because it’s preseason). So why is no one talking about the Magic? I’ve already breached this subject elsewhere, but let me sum up: due to the circumstances under which they won the East in 2009, and given the improvements made to the Eastern powers, the window has to be considered shut for the Magic as we know them.

But what if we don’t know them? A particular element of the assessment I made of the team as based on their physical makeup. There was no big signing, no huge trade, no substantial upgrade. Vince Carter got older, Jameer Nelson got Jameer-Nelson-ier, etc. The Magic are the same team they were last season, in terms of their physical makeup. But mentally? That’s where we might see some changes.

Most notably, even having only talked to Dwight Howard briefly this summer, I can tell you there’s something different about him. It’s not the workouts with Hakeem Olajuwon, instead, it’s the way he’s reacted to the hype over the Miami Triad. That level of anger that we constantly seek from LeBron? Howard has it. And with Vince Carter having another year in the system, Ryan Anderson coming into his own, and Stan Van Gundy finally relenting and pushing Rashard Lewis to the three from time to time, it’s entirely possible that this team mentally is ready to come out guns blazing. Then again, coming out guns blazing doesn’t do them much good if they run out of bullets in May. This analogy must either end or include a played-out Arenas reference, so…

The Hard Line Between Fan And Fanatic

Putting LeBron’s return to Cleveland on national television was their second bad idea. Putting it in front of an actual crowd of Cleveland fans was their first. If LeBron’s Twitter escapade showed anything, it’s that there are people out there to which the common rules of decency we all share do not apply. There are those of us out there who simply have no problem with crossing that line between “Okay, the guy used to wear the same color jersey I like and now he doesn’t, and that sucks”  and “I am now going to venture into outright racism, but first let me make a stop in Death Threat Village Boutiques.” This situation is a time bomb, and for some reason, the league is convinced it’s just good television. Even if you think the odds of a Cleveland fan or fans going berserk at the game is infinitely too small to be worried about, why are you exacerbating the situation by marketing it? “Tune in to watch LeBron possibly have a molotov cocktail thrown at his head for switching zip codes!” Cheering and booing is a great part of sport. But the projection that has been emulated by Cleveland fans, blaming James for an array of ills he had nothing to do with is a dangerous element in a highly tense situation.

There’s hate, there’s sincere hate, then there’s whatever nerve James tapped into this summer, be it racial, ethical, cultural, or otherwise. There’s a time bomb and it’s ticking, set to go off when the King returns to Cleveland.

The Top Seed in the West Is Up for Grabs

No, seriously. The Lakers are winning the Western Conference Finals, of that you can be sure of, but the top seed in the West and thereby the best chance to knock off LA? That’s still in the air. The Lakers aren’t just going to coast the second half of the season, they may struggle out of the gate with Kobe Bryant still recovering, Bynum on the shelf, and whatever random injuries they pick up. Dallas, San Antonio, Oklahoma City, Utah, Portland, Denver if Melo sticks around, any of these teams could sneak in and take home court advantage throughout the Western Conference playoffs. It wouldn’t be that hard to get past LA. It’s getting past everyone else that is the trick.

Again, LA may not win the West’s top seed because they know they don’t have to. Rest is more important than dominance. They no longer have to shoot for 72. The Heat are taking care of that runaway hype machine for them. And while they’re resting their bones, another team may set themselves up to try to have a Game 7 on their floor if push comes to shove. The rest is just prayer.

New Ownership Takes Direction

Ted Leonsis has lists of all the things he’s changing. New Warriors owner Joe Lacob is already making dramatic plans for change in Golden State. The Pistons will be under new ownership from a mogul. And the Hornets? Well, the Hornets are still George Shinn’s and no one is happy about it, least of all Shinn. The Warriors will be interesting from the perspective of whether they can defend at all with Keith Smart at the helm. Alternative approaches might yield some results there, considering the talent they have.

But New Orleans bears watching. If Shinn gets more desperate to sell the team, he may look to drop the value. Which would mean, you know, trading a superstar. Like Chris Paul. Oops. Meanwhile a new ownership group in Detroit may look at the salaries, then look at Joe Dumars, then look at the salaries, then look at Joe Dumars, and then things could get awkward.

Ownership changes create instability. The question will be how much, in a year that promises to be unstable regardless.

Exceptional Exceptions

There’s nothing in the NBA that can make up for the loss of a superstar. Back in the days of league-determined compensation, Cleveland and Toronto would have received picks, and, well… okay, that’s the thing. Riley managed to gut that team so completely to rebuild it they couldn’t even be punished with compensation. But the one thing those teams did get back is a big ol’ massive trade exception. Which is going to allow them to go in a few directions.

The most attractive one is to pick up  a monstrous expiring contract as part of  a multi-team trade that can net them picks, young players, and let them dump off the rest of their teams. These two squads need a clean slate, as painful as that is for fans, and this is the best way to go about it. When February rolls around, don’t be surprised if two teams that got rolled in free agency are heavy in discussions.