Lockout or no, Hornets need to sell season tickets

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The New Orleans Hornets have a goal — sell 10,000 season seats.

It’s at the heart of a plan to bolster the bottom line of the franchise and make it more attractive to a local buyer. It also kicks in provisions of the lease that make it hard to move the team out of town.

In other words — they need to do it if they are serious about keeping the Hornets in New Orleans.

The challenge: You try selling season tickets to a sport where there may not be a next season. You try selling during a lockout.

The Times-Picayune has a story on how the Hornets are working at it.

Right now, the Hornets are 1,500 shy of the stated goal of 10,000. (Hornets president Hugh) Weber and (Hornets chairman Jac) Sperling explain to prospective buyers how that number will make moot the team’s attendance benchmarks in the current lease with the state, increase sellouts at the Arena and how close the Hornets are to be leading the league in new ticket sales….

Sperling said the fans with whom he has spoken since the lockout commenced, three weeks into the 100-events-in-100-days campaign, haven’t seemed overly inquisitive about lockout issues, even though the Hornets cannot speak about CBA negotiations under threat of a $1 million fine….

“The idea is this is about New Orleans, the New Orleans Hornets, and people understand it,” Sperling said. “They ask questions, but in general, people understand the deal. This is about the Hornets in New Orleans. This was our plan. That’s what the purpose is. Our fans understand. We’re trying to achieve our goal. And they want to be part of it.”

Most teams don’t sell a lot of season tickets this time of year anyway (unless they scored big in free agency — the Heat phones were ringing off the hook this time last summer). But the Hornets are working it and they are making the right argument — this is about keeping a team in New Orleans. Frame the argument as civic pride, not the lockout or Chris Paul possibly leaving (even if the new Collective Bargaining Agreement could make life a lot better for smaller market clubs like the Hornets and make it easier to keep Chris Paul).

Russell Westbrook wears Craig Sager-inspired Jordan 1s

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The second anniversary of the death of NBA broadcasting legend Craig Sager is on Dec. 15 of this year, a span that has seemed too quick for those of us who grew up watching the colorful sideline reporter.

Sager passed in 2016 due to complications from leukemia, and the outpouring in his memory since from those around the NBA has been significant. While Sager is no longer with us, his memory lives on.

Saturday against the Los Angeles Clippers, Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook pay tribute to Sager’s memory with a pair of custom Air Jordan 1s inspired by Sager’s famous sideline attire.

Via Twitter:

Sager was known for wearing crazy patterns, everything from hounds tooth to polka dost to tartan. I think Westbrook’s shoes paid fitting homage to Sager’s sartorial flair.

Perhaps Jordan would be willing to join forces and put the shoes on the market to benefit the Sager Strong Foundation? I’m sure these would sell well and come at a premium.

Karl-Anthony Towns misses free throw as Mavs fans chant ‘Jimmy Butler’

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Jimmy Butler is still a member of the Minnesota Timberwolves, largely for reasons that are beyond the capacity of most rational NBA fans.

Butler continues to play with a team as they enter the beginning part of the season, although owner Glen Taylor and his front office are professing to still be looking for a suitable trade partner.

Meanwhile, the tension between Butler and teammates Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns must be palpable. It certainly has affected Towns at least in one way, as the Timberwolves big man missed a free throw after Dallas Mavericks fans chanted Butler’s name during one of Towns’ trips to the line

Via Twitter:

It’s hard to say whether Towns missed that free throw simply because of the chance or because sometimes guys miss free throws. Towns is an 84 percent shooter from the charity stripe, so you’d expect him to miss one once in a while.

Things continue to be weird in Minnesota, and this odd homeostasis can’t last for long.

Video appears to show Rajon Rondo spitting at Chris Paul

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Did Rajon Rondo spit on Chris Paul?

That’s the question everyone’s asking after Saturday night’s big brouhaha between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Houston Rockets which led to several objections and coming suspensions from the league office.

Various angles have been analyzed at length on social media, and indeed it was always apparent the NBA viewing public-at-large would get to the bottom of things. Around 9 a.m. on Sunday morning, we came to our logical endpoint.

Thanks to this new video, it does appear that Rondo spit at Paul.

Via Twitter:

The NBA league office is still reviewing the tape, but according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski they appear to have the clip in question in hand.

There are a lot of factors to consider when it comes to the coming suspensions. First, how much Brandon Ingram will be penalized for instigating the entire thing with his shove in the back of James Harden. Ingram also came in with a flying punch to Paul’s face that might be looked at a bit more severely.

Second, both Paul and Rondo landed punches, but if Rondo indeed did spit on his competitor that’s a level of disrespect — not to mention responsibility for making the first move against Paul — that might get him a tougher sentence.

We haven’t seen a real fight in the NBA in some time, where actual punches were landed and things got more serious than just guys running between tunnels underneath Staples Center. How the league punishes these guys this early in the season will dictate to us in the future how they feel about this kind of tension spilling over into violence.

Check out Nikola Jokick’s perfect shooting triple-double

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Phoenix star rookie Deandre Ayton, welcome to the NBA. Please try to guard Denver’s Nikola Jokic in your second game.

That didn’t go well. Jokic finished with a triple-double of 35 points, 12 rebounds, and 11 assists. However, it’s how he got there that was impressive: 11-of-11 from the field shooting, 10-of-11 from the free throw line, zero turnovers, four steals, and he threw in a blocked shot for good measure.

Jokic was +29 on the night and the Nuggets won 119-91. Denver is 2-0 to start the season.