I don’t feel super pumped about last night’s blowout win over the T-Wolves to close out the Hornets’ home schedule, but I don’t feel bad about it either. They didn’t lose. They didn’t play down to a terrible team. They didn’t blow a lead. They managed to pull themselves together enough to do the right thing for the fans.
Where are we going? Where have we been?
Byron Scott is gone. Rasual Butler, Tyson Chandler, Devin Brown, and Hilton Armstrong are gone. The Hornets overcame a terrible start to give us a scrappy, fun January and February, only to lose the franchise player to what pretty much ended up being a season-ending injury. (Oh, if it weren’t for that one errant pass and that one unfortunately positioned cameraman! What might have been!) Once they realized they were missing the playoffs, you could see the fire sort of go out of them, as we watched the inevitable slide toward the end of the season.
George Shinn is reportedly in the midst of selling the team to (local! richer!) minority partner Gary Chouest. This may mean big front office changes are on the way, heading into the offseason. This may mean the end, finally, of those pesky rumors we read every five minutes about how cheap the team is and how they’re going to move. We might have seen the last of Jeff Bower, as both coach and GM. The Hornets had one of the best drafts in the NBA in 2009. I discovered a new favorite player. We’ll most likely have the 11th pick in June. Lots of stuff went down this season. It will continue to go down as we head into the draft and the summer.
I have not given my opinion on this blog about the upcoming sale of the team, but anyone who’s read Hornets Hype long enough can guess what it is easily enough. From the beginning, we’ve been about exactly two things: 1) Watching this team rise, under the leadership of the basketball magician Chris Paul, and 2) Keeping the team in New Orleans. Period. And I just don’t see how Shinn selling the team is anything but great news, when it comes to those two things we care about the most. Chouest is local. He’s got deeper pockets than Shinn; he’s got money coming from other places and therefore more resources. He doesn’t just want a basketball team– he wants a basketball team in New Orleans.
Looking back on the season, I realize I had more fun watching this year than I did in 2008-09, even though the team won 14 less games. So I can’t really say it was all a waste. It wouldn’t be true. Last night before tipoff, the rookies took the court to address the crowd (Lil Buckets is not the best public speaker– he not only looked 10 times more nervous than he’s ever looked while playing, but he hilariously started off his speech with, “Yeaaahh, so I know we didn’t have a real good season, but… “). I can’t think of anything more fitting– more than any other players on the team, this was their season. Watching Marcus Thornton go from wearing a suit to being a 20 PPG starter was worth the price of admission. Add in Collison’s masterful turn in substituting for the injured Chris Paul, and these two were the reason to watch. And you know what? I’m also going to shout out David West here, who, in case you didn’t notice, turned it on in the last two months of the season and particularly outdid himself in terms of assists, passing better this spring than he has in his entire career.
On a personal note, the Hype is doing the house-buying thing, so that’s why I haven’t been around much in the last couple weeks. Of course, the Hornets haven’t been around much in the last couple weeks either… It is what it is. We’ll probably have something to say about the playoffs. We’ll definitely have stuff to say about the draft. We’ll be around.
I don’t know. I just feel very strongly that all is not lost. I feel like big things are around the corner.
We’ll be here, waiting.