Hornets Hype

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Archive for June, 2008

Free agency update.

By on June 30, 2008

Brand, Maggette, Posey, and B-Diddy are opting out of their contracts. Artest and AI did not. Meanwhile the Wiz are reportedly signing Jamison to a 4 year $50 mil deal. Incidentally, FA Arenas said he wanted to re-sign with the Wiz, but only if they signed Jamison; now SI reports that the two are close to signing a 6-year $100 mil deal, although the Warriors have made a similar deal to him too. Across the country, the Lakers have made qualifying offers to both Vujacic and Turiaf, and have made re-signing the pair a priority; while Shaun Livingston, out two years with one of the worst knee injuries ever, was not tendered a qualifying offer, and is a free agent.  In another country altogher, Calderon is indicating he has agreed in principle to remain a Raptor.

An interesting combination of events could help the Hornets.  Their #1 target is Corey Maggette.  If Brand is more interested in sticking around L.A., does he become a priority?  Is BD their answer at PG?  If the Clippers go that way it would be almost impossible, financially speaking, to bring back Maggette.  Lots of rumors put Maggette on the bus back to Orlando, but the Orlando Sentinel is reporting that after the team’s big spending last summer, it may be shopping for bargains this year.  Meanwhile, reports out of the Crescent City are that CP3 is a big attraction to free agents.  No real suprise.  The question is, then, who else has that kind of drawing power that we might be competing against?  Lakers/Kobe.  But they’re focused on keeping Turiaf and Vujacic, and probably look to get healthy more than make summer acquisitions, as they are already at a ridiculous $75 mil combined team salary.  Cavaliers/Lebron.  But like the Lakers, they’re already $25 some million over the salary cap of $55 mil, and according to the Plain Dealer, are unlikely to make much of a splash in free agency.  Perhaps only Miami/Wade have the will and allure to draw free agents; although, with Marion’s $17 mil, Wade’s $14 mil, and Beasley’s rookie contract, they’re sitting at around $59 million, which is slightly worse than the Hornets, but might be looking more to actually build a completment of decent players around Wade and Beasley, rather take a gamble on one more big piece.  This year is a buyer’s market, with most teams not having much cap space.  About the only teams with money to spend aren’t well situated, i.e., Memphis, Charlotte, Seattle, and a lot of the best free agents out there are looking to be a final piece in someone’s puzzle.  As Elton Brand said, everyone’s got the Celtics success in their hearts.  Maybe, just maybe, that lets us land a big name in hopes of making some talented free agent a champion.  I could live with that.

EDIT: while not strictly free agency related, it’s reported that Tyson will be traveling to China with the Olympic team as a back-up. Obviously this is linked to Dwight Howard’s stress fracture in his sternum, but should any other player get injured, TC will be on the spot to step in.

Summer League Update.

By on June 30, 2008

So far, it looks like both Julian Wright and Hilton Armstrong will play in the Summer League this year in Las Vegas. Also to get an invite, is ex-Hornet Adam Haluska, who was traded this year to the Rockets, only to be cut after the trade, and subsequently end up with the NBADL Iowa Energy (you can check his stats with Iowa here). I was one of the few to see Adam put up 20+ points in one game last preseason, and am excited to see him back and getting a shot. Byron and Bower (dare I say it, the Killer Bs?) saw something in him last draft, and obviously believe it’s still there.

The fourth invite so far goes to undrafted Illinois senior, Shaun Pruitt. Shaun’s 6’10″, 240 lbs., and can play either power forward or center, as he did in college. He’s known best for throwing his body around in the paint and coming up with rebounds. He’s working on both finishing around the basket and improving his jump-shot. He’ll need to work on his defense and lateral quickness, but has good conditioning and a freakish wingspan (you can read the full pre-draft report here).

Can’t wait to see who else ends up in camp. We’ll keep you updated.

EDITED LINK: summer league roster.

Mmmmm-oops!

By on June 28, 2008

So what the hell is happening with Rasual Butler? And how will the Hornets react? How does a guy go from being a key bench player, a sometimes starter, to the guy wearing a suit, the position on the end of the bench that as early as the beginning of this season was reserved for rookies who’d barely seen any time, if at all, on an NBA floor.

Butler keeping it realA season over and gone and now he’s the one sitting in the back of an SUV, a gun on the floor, the cops coming for him, and him seeing how low he’s fallen. While I give Rasual a lot of credit for self-cognizance, it’s nonetheless a haunting image of personal tragedy. Thereafter, part of Coach Scott’s response to the situation was: “he had some personal problems [this year] that were going on that kind of caused him not to be with us, so to speak, and all that affected him.” Hmmm. It was the first I heard of it. While I feel for Rasual, I have to wonder how the team will react. They’re gearing up to win a championship. And no matter Byron’s relationship with him, it’s Bower, Shinn, and the team’s lawyers who will decide the response.

We don’t know what Butler’s specific contract says, but section 16(a) of the Uniform Player Contract provides:

The Team may terminate this Contract upon written notice to the Player if the Player shall: (i) at any time, fail, refuse, or neglect to conform his personal conduct to standards of good citizenship, good moral character (defined here to mean not engaging in acts of moral turpitude, whether or not such acts would constitute a crime).

Section 16(g) provides:

Upon any termination of this Contract by the Player, all pay Compensation shall cease on the date of termination, Team to pay the Player’s Compensation to said date.

Rumor mills said the team had been looking to shop Rasual and his remaining two years and $7.5 mil for quite a while. Could this be the easy out? The trickiest part, of course is proof. You can’t just drop a guy if you don’t know for sure he did something wrong. He’s accused of waving a gun after an altercation at a group of men and cocking the hammer back. Butler said he didn’t do anything wrong, and specifically denied cocking it at anyone. But was he waving it around? Did he pull it out? We need also to understand the context. Was he fooling around, defending himself, or just straight thugging? These are key questions that the team will need answers to if they’re going to take that much money away from him. The last thing they want to do is get in a lawsuit with him over whether his termination was wrongful under his contract. But if they can justify it, it would help their salary cap situation right? Fill his spot with someone like Adam Haluska, Shaun Pruitt, or some other undrafted free agent who they can pay something more like $400,000 a year. Pretty good bargain for someone who wasn’t getting any burn anyway.

He holds his fate in his hands…On the other hand, do the Hornets have a responsibility to help him if he is having personal problems? The one answer, as suggested above, is no. It’s a business. And that’s how it is. Cutthroat. But this year we’ve seen a Hornets team that became more than just a team; they became a family. They were devastated when they lost Bobby midseason, but were able to turn around and welcome Mike James and Bonzi with open arms. So how would they react if Butler was cut? Would they blame Rasual? Would they blame the management? Would it change how the team views each other and the bonds they share? What do they know about Rasual’s off-the court issues to which Byron alluded? There are also the facts that Rasual is a team player, taking his benching with class, and being generally supportive of the team’s direction. He also reportedly has done plenty of good works, like flying supplies to Africa at his own cost.

Only the team knows what they’re going to do in free agency. But if cutting Butler under the conduct clause gets us room to bring in Corey Maggette, do it. Monta Ellis, sure. If it will completely push us into contention for a title, do it. Because to bring in someone equally troubled, and not necessarily a good fit, like Ron Artest, would be hypocritical; as would it be cut Rasual to bring in someone who’s unproven and/or unreliable, like Ben Gordon. What I’m saying is that if we cut Rasual, we better get our money’s worth, not straddle ourselves with debt on a stupid risk. Sure take anyone on a $5 mil mid-level exception, but that’s a different story. I guess what I’m really saying is that cutting a guy who is having personal problems for making a stupid mistake is not the best moral choice, and if you’re going to cross that line, you better be sure it’s worth it.

I expect the Hornets to go slow. But I feel for Rasual. I really do. Without more information, though, I feel like I should give him the benefit of the doubt. I believe he did a dumb thing and regrets it. I know some people have already labeled him a thug or this or that. But before anyone calls him out, ask what you may have done between the hours of 1 and 7 a.m. outside of any drinking establishment at some time in your life. My record’s not spotless. I’ve made mistakes. I’d hate to see any of them ruin my career. So that’s my response as a human. Give him another chance. Bring him back into the fold. But I get that the Hornets are in it to win. Period. I wouldn’t want any less. But if they let him go, I hope it’s with done with decency. I hope they give him some kind of exit support. And I hope they recommend him to other teams as someone who with a fresh start could flourish. It’d be the right thing to do.

But until we know more, we just have to wait and see.

Caption This Pic:

By on June 27, 2008

So I’m doing some redesigning of the site, and I was going through my huge folder of Hornets pictures from this season. I came across this gem from the Celtics win (I think that was the best night of my life, by the way– shit, that whole stretch was amazing… they just couldn’t lose).

I love this photo of Tyson and Bonzi.

It’s cracking me up. What are they doing? Celebrating their mutant ninja takedown of Ray Allen? Preparing to kick ass and fight crime? Or maybe a fat dude just got naked in the second row off to the right and that is actually a look of horror?

Tyson and Bonzi practice their mad ninja moves!

Fill it up with gold!CrowdWaaaaaatch: Because, after all, this site was born out of a fit of righteous rage over such things, I can’t believe I haven’t posted an update about the Hornets’ ticket status. So here it is: season ticket sales are going REALLY well. As of this week, I’ve heard there are only a couple hundred seats left in the lower bowl. Total season ticket sales are just short of the 10,000 mark and should keep on going throughout the summer! Consider that, back in December, it wasn’t out of the question for there to be 10,000 or fewer people in the building total

Your city is not stealing the Hornets.

I told you.

From the not so distant past…This isn’t a bad look for JuJu, the Hornets’ most recent draftee. (I guess if they don’t draft this year, he’s kind of going to be the baby forever, right? Tough luck there. At least they’re done making him carry around the pink backpack.) Everything matches, I like the tie, and the pocket square is always a nice touch (although here it looks more like a pocket… chunk of fabric that’s stuffed in there). Good job, Mr. Wright. Nothing embarrassing here. You have escaped unscathed.

Down below, however. Oh hey, Bonzi, is that you under the shadow of that hat and that ginormous suit? I think it’s really more of a trench coat. It’s the spy look. He doesn’t want to be seen. I think that jacket is as tall as David Stern.

And below Bonzi? I know he’s not a Hornet anymore, but…

I could not resist the pull of Bobby Jackson’s BLUE draft day suit. I had to give an honorary shout-out to it. Just look at it. You can’t drag your eyes away from it, can you? It’s electric!

Hello? Bonzi? Who the hell is that under there?

BLUE!

Jeff Bower talks about the Portland trade:

“There are a number of situations on the board that could develop and send you in a different direction, as well,” Bower said. “We’ll be very active today and tomorrow monitoring the situation and preparing for situations.”

Satisfy my curiosity. Give me some excitement to brighten up my dull Thursday.

“As we’re all aware, until that final approval takes place, you do not have a deal,” Bower said. “We have been in discussions about possibly looking into other options for the pick, but at this time, I can’t tell you a deal has been finalized and approved by the league office…. We’re pretty far along in our discussions. The last step normally to make something official is league approval.”

Or, you know, carry on with the plan. That’s cool too.

Side Note: I enjoy trades in a totally vicarious, fly-on-the-wall way. Which is why I want more! Except, um, without losing anyone. And this is why I am not a GM.

According to ESPN, trading the #27 pick to Portland tomorrow for cash.

Oh, see, this is kinda lame if it’s true. We couldn’t get anything interesting for it? At all? I don’t know anything about anything, but the Hornets were still bringing guys in for workouts today. What about all the money they wasted on that?

The Hornets rarely bore me. But this bores me. I am terribly bored.

On a scale of one to lame… this is lame.

What DO they teach them in these schools?Me! Me! I’m available. And I would never allow this embarrassing grammatical error to grace the front page.

Grammar aside though, to answer the question, I say the lack of size doesn’t make sense. I don’t know why they didn’t bring another big man. They have… Howard, Boozer, and Bosh? And that’s it? A couple weeks ago, people were saying they wouldn’t bring CP because they wanted size. And then you don’t bring a backup 5?

Should have brought Tyson…

Because someone’s gotta do it, I dug through the internet in an attempt to find humiliating draft night photos of current Hornets players. Now, I’ve got a little bit of a hole in the starting lineup because Mo Pete and David West are MIA (I’m guessing you get less photo ops if you’re not in the top 15 or so of the first round), but for our purposes we can assume that David West wore black and looked exactly like he always looks. Moving on…

Baby Tyson’s gotta take this call, ya heard?Today we’re going to start with TC. Give me a moment to say, “Eeeee!” ‘Cause Baby Tyson is super cute. What’s he saying on the phone? “Guys, listen, I was drafted #2 by the Clippers and then they traded me five minutes later to the Bulls! I know, right? Five years in the future I will be traded to New Orleans and appear at that press conference in a suit that’s far more attractive and better fitting than this one. Today it’s aaaalll cooolll…”

Next up, our Fearless Leader, the Savior of All Basketball, Favorite Son of the City of New Orleans, the MVP, etc., etc. With bonus hilarious appearance from the Serbian Sharpshooter. To answer the question of “Could Chris Paul be any more babyfaced?”, here’s CP3 on draft night, wearing a Wake Forest-themed outfit. I get the tie, but the jacket’s a little scary. I’m not sure you can wear 2 different colored stripes in the same outfit, plus where are you inside that jacket? (The answer to the previous question, by the way, is yes, but only a little bit.) CP3 looks a little sharper these days.

And oh boy, where do I start with Peja? The scarecrow hair! The lack of 5:00 shadow! The suit that might be made of suede! I love it.

Baby CP3… which is really not that long agoPeja? Really?