Tag: Nicolas Batum

Charlotte Hornets v Los Angeles Lakers

Hornets coach Steve Clifford plans to play Jeremy Lin and Kemba Walker together


Going into the season, the Hornets will be quite different from the disappointing group they put out last year. There are seven new players on the roster, including some key rotation players, and it’s going to be a lot of trial-and-error to see which ones play well together and which ones don’t. Head coach Steve Clifford is going to try out a lot of different combinations, including one he brought up in a new interview: a backcourt of Kemba Walker and new signee Jeremy Lin.

From Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer:

Q: You’ve said you’re intrigued by the potential in playing point guards Kemba Walker and Jeremy Lin together. Can you describe your vision for that combination?

It’s always good to have two pick-and-roll players on the floor. That way you can put pressure on the defense at one side, then switch it to the other. That makes more room to play similar to how Golden State does. You’ve got Steph (Curry) on one side, so defenses have to load up there, and then you’ve got Klay Thompson on the other with room to operate.

That’s what Kemba can do for Jeremy and Jeremy can do for Kemba.

It’s an interesting concept, and could work in small doses. Finding minutes for a two-point guard lineup will be tricky for Clifford, who will also be juggling playing time for Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Nicolas Batum and (if he cracks the rotation) Jeremy Lamb. He’ll have plenty of options to mix and match players in the backcourt and on the wing. Truth be told, both Walker and Lin are probably best suited to be sixth men, instant-offense types. Clifford compared the style of a Walker-Lin backcourt to the Warriors, which makes sense conceptually. But Thompson is a much better defender than both Walker and Lin, which makes it easier play two ball-dominant guards together. But it’s certainly worth trying this out. It’s hard to get a read on what the Hornets’ roster will be at this point, or how effective it can be. They have plenty of talented players, and it will be interesting to see how well they fit together.

Pelicans pull French center Alexis Ajinca out of EuroBasket

New Orleans Pelicans v Minnesota Timberwolves

New Pelicans’ coach Alvin Gentry has big plans for Alexis Ajinca. In the coach’s up-tempo offense, Ajinca’s athleticism makes a good fit behind and next to Anthony Davis. With that, Ajinca is expected to see an increased role and minutes (even though the team did bring back Omer Asik). That’s why they signed him to a four-year, $20 million deal this offseason.

Ajinca has been playing this summer with the French national team as they prepare to defend their EuroBasket title and earn a berth in the 2016 Rio Olympics. However, a week before the tournament starts, the Pelicans have pulled him out, reports eurohoops.net.

The player felt pain in his Achilles tendon since the start of the preparation period at the 20th of July. His condition remained unchanged, however the New Orleans Pelicans decided to forbid him from playing in the Eurobasket.

This was not a situation that was so bad New Orleans said he couldn’t even consider playing for his country; it was a relatively minor issue. But as it hasn’t improved, the Pelicans decided not to risk anything with a guy they just agreed to lock down for four years.

This is a blow to France, but they remain one of the deepest teams at EuroBasket and one of the favorites. They still have Rudy Gobert at center, Tony Parker at the point, plus guys like Boris Diaw, Nicolas Batum, and Evan Fournier on the roster. They could defend their crown, but that task just got a little harder.

Hornets make $52 million bet on Michael Kidd-Gilchrist with four-year contract extension

Charlotte Hornets v Chicago Bulls

If all you know of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is his broken jumper, you have not been watching closely enough. First off, Mike Price helped improve that jumper, and he shot 50 percent last season between 10 and 16 feet (that’s not to say the jumper is good, just not painful-to-watch wretched anymore). More than that, MKG brings relentless energy, fantastic defense, and his offense is improving leading to him scoring 10.9 points a game last season. There have been real strides of development, signs of leadership, and he is still just 21 years old.

With all that potential, and in this financial market, the Charlotte Hornets made a good bet on him.

The two sides reached terms on four-year, $52 million contract extension, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

The agreement will be finalized this week with a news conference to follow, league sources said…. Kidd-Gilchrist, the No. 2 overall pick in the draft, has developed into a cornerstone player for the Hornets at small forward. With the extension, the Hornets and Kidd-Gilchrist will avoid him becoming a restricted free agent next summer.

He is a cornerstone of what they are building— the Hornets were 6-20 when he was out last season injured because they cannot replace what he brings. If you can get a key starter in this market for $13 million a year, that is a good deal in the current NBA economy. Let alone one who is young and on the rise.

Kidd-Gilchrist is the best Hornet defender, drawing the toughest perimeter assignment nightly. Now with him and just-signed Nicolas Batum, Charlotte should be an improved defensive team for Steve Clifford.

But more than that, it’s the constant motor that makes him both fun to watch and a key to Charlotte’s success — when a guy working that hard is on the court, everyone else steps up around him.

This is a bet by the Hornets on MKG’s offense, which is still a liability because of his jumper. That said, with his improved jumper he was more confident last season, more aggressive and attacking (he drew fouls at a good clip). If he keeps taking strides on that end of the court, the Hornets become far more dangerous.

Consider this is a fair deal for both sides. MKG gets some security and a healthy pay raise (starting in 2017, he has one more season on his rookie deal). The Hornets lock up a guy who can be a cornerstone part of what they are building.