Tag: New Orleans Hornets

Dell Demps

The New Orleans Hornets and a matter of serendipity, not conspiracy


Maybe they’re right.

Maybe the league, in the face of unfathomable depths of reason to avoid the concept like the plague (which I have outlined here), really did rig the 2012 NBA Lottery in order to help the Hornets after a rough year, or dot the i’s on the sale of the team to Tom Benson, or to make up for the Chris Paul trade intervention, or whatever. It’s possible. The league is capable of doing it, even of keeping evidence from leaking. It could have happened.

And if that’s the way you want to look at it, God Bless you. I’ve long said what makes the NBA great is the insanity of it all, not its greatness. We like to pretend it’s Jordan’s push-off and jumper, Magic’s Skyhook, Kobe’s lob to Shaq, the steal by Bird, the passion, the drama, the glory of championship greatness. But in reality? It’s DeShawn Stevenson’s neck tattoo, it’s Adam Morrison, it’s Looney Tunes halftime shows, and Carl Landry’s teeth getting embedded in Dirk’s arm. It’s conspiracy theories about frozen envelopes and vetoed trades. This is the tapestry of the league.

But for me? The only way I can look at the Hornets’ acquisition of the No. 1 overall pick in the draft is serendipity.

This is painful, but we must start here.

Anthony Davis desperately needed to not go to the Charlotte Bobcats. This is not another treatise about how terrible the Bobcats are, about them being “worst of all time” because they’re not. I’ve seen worse teams. This year. There are teams that played with less focus, less effort, less heart. The Bobcats are short on talent and ability and skill and lots of other things but that doesn’t make them irredeemable. It just makes them bad. I want to say that Davis not landing to them is the best thing for them as well, that they need a scorer like Bradley Beal or a game-changer like MKG on the wing. But I’d be lying. They need a franchise player, and the only one in this draft, even though I’m more bullish on this draft than most, is Anthony Davis.

But the thing I want most for rookies coming in, because I genuinely want them all to succeed, is that they find the right place for them. And that was not with the Bobcats. Davis needs three things. Stability, because all rookies need that, the possibility of success, because even if they’re terrible they need to see the light at the end of the tunnel, and a point guard. Davis has an offensive repertoire which wasn’t showcased at Kentucky. But it’s going to take him a few years to work out the kinks and get it up and running. In the meantime, he needs a point guard who can run the offense and get him the ball. I think D.J. Augustin is a talented scoring guard who could contribute if he were to escape Charlotte. But he’s not a great fit with Davis. Don’t even get me started on Kemba Walker. It’s unfortunate, but maybe it’s for the best that Charlotte didn’t get Davis. And maybe the odds will work out and Beal, or Drummond, or MKG will be that player for Charlotte. God willing, because I’m tired of everyone dumping on a team down on its luck because it makes them feel better.

But no, those things I mentioned that Davis needs?

That’s New Orleans.

It’s stable. You can question that given the league’s reign over them as owners, but the fact is the owner of the Saints took over. That’s the shot in the arm they needed. Monty Williams and Dell Demps… survived! Do you know how improbable that is? If I were Dell Demps, I would have set my office on fire as my resignation this season. If I were Monty Williams… I would have turned into late-era Don Nelson. Let’s just say that.

But here they are. Demps, who has brought in high quality players, and diamonds in the rough. And Williams. I was livid when a Los Angeles writer said that the Lakers being challenged (and still winning!) by the Hornets was a disgrace. It was proof of how little many beat writers and columnists flip on league pass. Because you can’t have watched this year’s Hornets team and thought they were a disgrace. The hardest part of a losing year is getting the team to come out and give a crap. Would you, if you knew that winning meant nothing? But there the Hornets were. They were prepared. They were focused. They wanted to win. They didn’t, because they were without talent. They didn’t have enough good players, and their best player was out with injury. Now they’re reinvigorated.

Demps has been given the player he needs to build around. You don’t think Demps, who worked under R.C. Buford and Gregg Popovich in San Antonio, knows how to build around an elite big man? That’s the model.  And Williams is a relentless defensive coach, who has been gifted arguably the best defensive prospect in a decade. Davis is walking into a situation with a coach who knows how to use him. Pick and roll on offense, tenacious defense. Davis is in a great position to learn what he needs to and excel off the bat.

They have a point guard, in Jarrett Jack, who can run the offense and feed Davis. He’s excited to have Davis and wants to win. Jack’s a professional and not a diva. But it’s not just those two. Davis won’t be expected to score 18 a game. He’s got Eric Gordon. (For those of you raising his impending free agency, stop. No one goes loose off their rookie contract, the money’s too important, and anyway, you think with a legitimate chance to win next year, the Hornets are letting Gordon walk?) They have scoring balance. And this is before the No.10 pick and adding Damian Lillard or Kendall Marshall or Terrence Jones, or whoever. The Hornets are set up perfectly.

You can choose to think that makes it all the more suspicious that they wound up with Davis. But they had better than a 1-in-10 shot at Davis. They set themselves up success and better yet they’re in a position to set up Davis for success.

You can see a dark cloud on the horizon, I’m seeing the light at the end of the tunnel for a team that didn’t make things wore for itself in the middle of misery. I’m loathe to throw out “Shawshank Redemption” lines because another writer has made that his trademark. But watching Monty Williams beaming on lottery night, this was the only thing I could think of.

“Monty Williams. Crawled through a river of (expletive) and came out clean on the other side.”

You can call it conspiracy. I call it the universe throwing us a bone in this darkened, injury-filled, lockout year.

New owner will mean new name, logo for Hornets soon

Detroit Pistons v New Orleans Hornets

“Hornets” is not a name that fits with New Orleans.

It was a leftover from when George Shinn moved his team from Charlotte — a city nicknamed “the hornets’ nest” — but “Hornets” goes together with the spirit of New Orleans about as much as tacos go with gumbo.

New Hornets owner Tom Benson is a New Orleans native who gets the city. And you can put him on the list of people who wants a new name for the team. Tomorrow. Which is all that matters. Here is what Benson told the Times-Picayune:

“We need to find a name like (Jazz),” Benson said, referring to New Orleans first NBA team that relocated to Salt Lake City in 1979. “Whether we can get that or let us use that, you’ve got to know we’re working on it. We’d like to change it tomorrow. We have not gotten that approved, but we’re not letting up on it, either. Because we’ve got a good relationship with the commissioner and his people and we’re going to be on them daily to do something.”

At this point, Jazz is not going to happen, even though that name fits in Utah about as well as a crawfish boil. Look, Lakers fits a whole lot better in Minnesota than it does Los Angeles but they’re not giving it up either.

But there are a host of other potential names that can work and you can bet in a couple years Benson will have the Hornets called something appropriate.

And you know, that black and gold color scheme of the saints would look cool on an NBA uniform. Just sayin’.

Chris Kaman sticks with Hornets, which is fine. For now.

Chris Kaman, Nene
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From ESPN.com’s Marc Stein:


Players waived by 11:59 PM ET tonight eligible for playoffs w/another team, but ESPN sources say NOH & Chris Kaman still NOT talking buyout

— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) March 23, 2012

So… real quick. Taking on the rest of the year for Kaman isn’t bad. He still makes plays (he blocked the ever-loving crap out of Blake Griffin the other night). He can still provide the team with value and it’s better to have the expiring than players of only marginal improvement for longer-term.

The reservation has to come with continued talks of extending Kaman after the season. The Hornets need to go blisteringly young. Kaman’s going to demand a pretty decent salary because he’s tall and can walk and chew gum at the same time. In this league that’s gold. Throw on him actually being marginally talented and you have to think the offers will come rolling in. The Hornets, however, do not need the veteran stylings of one Mr. Chris Kaman. They need the project long-term stylings of one Mr. Andre Drummond (should Anthony Davis and his salvation-by-unibrow not appear through the lottery) or some sort. Even if the move Emeka Okafor, having Kaman on as a transition big man to mentor the young kid is going to be too expensive.

There’s a little too much emphasis placed on cap room these days. Not everyone can have a bajillion dollars of cap space and if they do, they still have to reach the salary floor. Paying players is something that’s worth doing. But it’s hard to see how Kaman is going to work out long-term. For this season, it’s fine, if for no other reason than it helps to get the front office’s respect back as a managing entity under Stern. But beyond this season, unless the Hornets have a massive makeover towards veterans or Kaman is feeling generous about staying in the Big Easy, they need to be very careful with how they proceed.