This morning, excellent basketball writer Rob Mahoney published a thought-provoking piece on the New York Times’ NBA blog, Off the Dribble, exploring a potential plan for the Hornets. The strategy that he presents for the team to consider is geared towards, not so surprisingly, convincing Chris Paul to remain in New Orleans beyond next season, when he is able to opt out of the final year of his contract. His idea, in a nutshell, is to basically wipe the entire roster clean and subsequently give Paul the keys to reconstruct the roster exactly as he chooses. Obviously, there is a ton of risk involved, and a new owner would be a necessity before this idea could begin to take shape, but I believe that it may be the best option for the Hornets. After the jump, I explain how it would be possible, and why it could be in the team’s best interest to pursue this course of action.
Just wanted to make a quick post with my predictions for the season; Andrew will try to have his up before the games are played on Sunday. Take a look, and comment with your own picks!
Greetings, loyal fan base! First of all, we at HoopDat would like to apologize for being MIA for a little while; there hasn’t been much going on of interest in the worlds of the Saints and Hornets, so we’ve been a little too quiet lately. However, there is something very important coming up for the Bees in just two days, so it’s time to take one final look at what path we may see the Hornets follow with their lone selection in Thursday night’s NBA draft. In this post, we’ll take a look around the various reputable sports media outlets and see what they think, and then I’ll give you our own personal draft choice.
I’ll be the first to admit that on my list of priorities for tonight, Game Six of Hornets vs. Lakers trumps the NFL draft. That being said, I am still incredibly excited for day one of the draft tonight. It is still very unclear which players will even fall to the Saints by the time they are on the clock, much less who New Orleans is actually pursuing. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t speculate, right? After the Saints were eliminated from playoff contention, I wrote an article about the key positions that the team would likely look to upgrade for this offseason. Since then, the only changes (excellent ones, in my opinion) have been the re-signing of RB Pierre Thomas and the addition of DT Shaun Rogers. I will use that January piece as my point of reference when examining which of the players the Saints may consider taking, if they are available at the 24th slot. After the jump, you’ll find the five players whom I consider the most likely prospects to land in a New Orleans Saints uniform, along with additional information about each player; at the end, I’ll decide which one of the five I see the Saints selecting.
First of all, all my thoughts and prayers go out to David West right now. This couldn’t have happened at a worse time for him, as he was a couple months away from cashing in on his last big long-term contract (hopefully with the Hornets). Now, he’ll have to seriously wonder what he can get on the open market recovering from an injury like this. I feel for him; I wouldn’t wish this on anyone, not even Kobe.
From a basketball standpoint – the brutal reality is that this team was going to have a tough time making it out of the first round as it was. Now, it’s going to be close to impossible. Even if Carl Landry can come close to replacing West’s point totals offensively, he won’t be as efficient, doesn’t rebound as well, isn’t quite as good on defense, and by moving into the starting lineup, he leaves the Hornets with Jason Smith as the backup PF. Bad news all around. I can’t wait to see Landry try to defend Dirk/Gasol/Duncan in the paint in a seven game series. Ugh.
UPDATE: As Rohan from At The Hive points out, it might make sense to make Jason Smith the starter, and quite honestly, I completely agree. Jason Smith is a better rebounder and has a better jumpshot than Landry, but isn’t as good in almost every other aspect. Smith can be an asset when playing with CP3 and the rest of the starters, but coming off the bench, he is almost useless. Therefore, why not give Smith about 15 minutes per game, all played with CP3, and then give Landry the other 30 minutes or so? Landry can create his own shot in the post, so he doesn’t need to play with the starters to be effective. Additionally, he can feast on other second string PFs, which was the original hope when the Hornets first acquired him. The point here is that, although there is no replacing David West, the Hornets don’t suddenly become a totally inept NBA team without him.
If you’re a Hornets fan desperately looking for a silver lining, there may actually be one. If I’m David West, I can’t imagine that I’d opt out of my 2011-12 player option for $7.5 million now. I seriously doubt any team will offer a bank-breaking long-term deal to a guy with one healthy ACL, even a player as good as West. Therefore, I expect West to remain a Hornet next season. There’s even a chance that he could negotiate an extension with the Hornets if he feels the urge to guarantee financial security. Granted, this is purely speculation on my part, but I’d say that the odds are better than 50/50 that at the very least, West picks up the last year of his deal to re-establish his market value as a Hornet next season.
That’s my quick take after learning about the severity of the injury just 15 minutes ago. Feel free to share any comments, questions or concerns that you may have in the comments section below.
With the All Star game behind us, it’s time to take a look at the Hornets’ remaining schedule and begin assessing the team’s playoff odds and potential matchups. Currently, the Hornets are percentage points behind Trail Blazers for the fifth seed thanks to having both one more win and one more loss, leaving the Bees in possession of sixth place in the West. Fortunately, big man Emeka Okafor will be returning when the Hornets resume playing Wednesday. Hopefully, he will be the catalyst to the Hornets returning to playoff caliber form, because in his absence the Hornets have played pretty miserably. That said, let’s take a look at our chances and see how the schedule looks from here on out.
Yesterday, ESPN’s official NFC South blogger Pat Yasinskas published a post which explains that the New Orleans Saints lead the league in potential free agents this offseason with 27. While he makes it clear that no player will reap the benefits of free agency until a labor agreement is agreed upon, it is obviously still an area of concern for this Saints team. With this dilemma in mind, let’s take a look at each Saints player eligible to become a free agent. The most recent Collective Bargaining Agreement states that players with 3 years or less of NFL experience are restricted free agents (any offer from another team can be matched by the player’s current team), while all other players can become unrestricted free agents. The following list of players was acquired from an article written by Mike Tripplet for NOLA.com. The odds of the Saints re-signing each of player cannot be determined with certainty until the new CBA is in place, but why not speculate a little?
Though the Saints’ weekly schedule hasn’t been released yet, every NFL team’s 2011 opponents were determined as soon as the 2010 regular season came to an end. Here is how the Saints’ 10 non-divisional games are assigned each season:
- All four teams from one of the other three divisions in the NFC, alternating every year.
- All four teams from one of the other four divisions in the AFC, alternating every year.
- Two NFC games based on the 2010 standings. Because the Saints finished in 2nd place in their division in 2010, they will play the corresponding 2nd place teams from the two NFC divisions that the Saints do not already have on their schedule.
On paper, New Orleans seems to have a much more favorable out-of-division schedule than their fellow NFC South peers. Although it is far too early to make any predictions with absolute confidence, the Saints’ schedule at present appears to have them well positioned to reclaim their place at the top of the division. Here is a breakdown of the team’s 2011 non-divisional opponents.