Tag:New Orleans Hornets
Posted on: November 29, 2011 1:11 am
Edited on: November 29, 2011 2:43 pm

Cap rules make Chris Paul to Knicks difficult

Posted by Ben Golliverchris-paul-carmelo-anthony

That didn't take long.

Less than a week after NBA owners and players tentatively agreed to terms on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement that was designed by the league to improve competitive balance, a report has surfaced that a small-market perennial All-Star wants to play for a star-studded, marquee big-market franchise.

ESPN.com reports that New Orleans Hornets point guard Chris Paul is intent on signing with the New York Knicks.
Paul’s first choice by far is to team up with the Knicks’ Anthony and Amare Stoudemire to form yet another Eastern Conference Big 3, according to sources close to the situation.

The Knicks should have enough room beneath the salary cap next summer to offer Paul, who can become a free agent after this season, a contract starting around $13.5 million, just below the maximum. And while New Orleans could offer him more money, Paul, like his buddies James and Wade did a year ago, will gladly take a little less to join the team of his choice. 

Paul’s current team, the poor, league-owned New Orleans Hornets, will of course do everything they can to avoid losing Paul for nothing. That means trying to trade him before or during this truncated 66-game season, according to sources.
Paul and the Knicks have been linked before. Last month, a report surfaced that Anthony wanted Paul in New York. In September, a report surfaced that former Knicks GM Isiah Thomas is close with Paul and was "working behind the scenes" to convince Paul to sign with the Knicks.

While this is not the first report of mutual interest between Paul and the Knicks, it's certainly the most detail-laden. The Knicks have obviously planned to make a big splash in the summer of 2012 by stocking up on contracts that expire this season. They can make a compelling financial case, even if it's not the best possible offer available to Paul. 

As with Anthony, if Paul's heart is set on New York he certainly has the leverage to get there. It's just a matter of when and how. Whether Paul gets there quickly via a direct trade, slowly by waiting to sign with the Knicks in the summer, or by taking a circuitous path, like the one traveled by New Jersey Nets point guard Deron Williams, who was traded without warning by the Utah Jazz and recently said he's keeping his options open for this summer, remains to be seen. But if Paul has the will expressed in this report, there's a way for him to land in New York.

The question, as CBSSports.com Ken Berger points on in the following video, is how much of a financial hit joining the Knicks would mean for Paul and whether that hit becomes so large as to be prohibitive. Would losing out, potentially, on tens of millions of dollars still make the move worth it?

"I'm sure Chris Paul and the Knicks are first on each other's lists, but although extend-and-trades and sign-and-trades are still allowed in this agreement, there are a lot of restrictions," Berger explains. "You can't necessarily do what Carmelo did in the extend-and-trade to get to the team you want and still get max money. Chris Paul could only get one year added to his two left. And with sign-and-trades, you can't do what LeBron did to get to Miami and get max money, you have to take a 4-year deal and less than max raises."

The Knicks have staggered their superstar acquisitions more than the Miami Heat did in landing LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh during the summer of 2010, but they're following essentially the same blueprint and strategy. Even though Paul's biggest salary payday would come by staying with the Hornets, we've learned it's not always about maximum NBA salary for elite basketball players. Paul, like Anthony, is a featured Jordan Brand sponsored athlete and would surely have access to new, additional off-court revenue streams playing for a championship-contending Knicks squad. But could that make up tens of millions of dollars in salary difference?

This report didn't take long to surface, but it will feel like forever until the script plays out, especially for Hornets fans.
Posted on: November 18, 2011 6:32 pm

3-on-2 Fast Break: Dwight Howard vs. Chris Paul

By EOB Staff

The 3-on-2 Fast Break is three bloggers debating two players. We evaluate them on three different questions to provide context. So that would actually be 3-on-2-on-3, but that doesnt' happen in basketball, so we're stuck with this. This week's topic is Chris Paul vs. Dwight Howard.

Queston 1: Which player would you take right now to start a franchise with?

Royce Young:  Dwight Howard. And I'm not just picking him because of the "big men win championships" cliche that's not at all true. He's a year younger but also hasn't had to deal with any major injuries. He's consistent and with his body, he's not really all that likely to ever suffer a significant injury. It's hard to determine who the better basketball player is because they're so much different, but some of it certainly depends on if you value a center or point guard more. Howard's a force on both ends and while CP3 is the best point man in the game, Howard impacts everything. And I don't think he's a finished product yet.

Ben Golliver: The single most underrated statistic put up by Dwight Howard is that he has missed just seven regular season games in his seven-year NBA career. That's ridiculous durability, especially for a player his size, and it's a key determining factor when you're deciding who to select as a franchise building block. Your franchise guy has to be marketable, he has to be reliable, he has to have a good head on his shoulders, he needs to both offense and defense and he needs to log heavy minutes. Howard aces those criteria and, much like Paul, he makes role players better simply by his presence. Put all of that together and consider Howard's age -- 25 -- and Paul's history of knee issues, and it's no contest.

Matt Moore: Dwight Howard's healthy. That's a huge element. Paul's meniscus situation is enough to warrant the reigning Defensive Player of the Year taking this one. Howard is the one you have to build around, given his all-around ability and health. But to add a little bit of a shakeup, I'd argue that you need more built around Howard due to his limitations in the post. A mediocre offense around Howard? That team would get knocked out in the first... oh, I see you've heard that joke before, with the punchline being "... the Hawks!" 

Question 2:  Which player do you take right now if you want to win a championship as soon as possible? 

Royce Young:  Howard. It's simple: Howard needs a whole lot less on a roster than Paul does. CP3 makes everyone around him exponentially better, but still, he needs four other players on the floor with him that can score, defend and rebound. I mean, look at that Orlando team that Howard dragged into the NBA Finals. Hedo, Jameer Nelson, Rashard Lewis, J.J. Redick -- not exactly a group of All-Stars. Give Dwight Howard something better than Vince Carter or Hedo Turkoglu on the wing and you're really just a player or two away from a title. CP3 can carry a team, but he's easier to stop than Howard. 

Ben Golliver: Although Orlando's 2010-2011 Magic campaign -- especially how it ended -- was discouraging and the rise of the Miami Heat was doubly deflating, Howard's Magic are never far from competing for a title. Five straight playoff trips, one visit in the Finals and another to the Eastern Conference Finals is a hell of a run for your team to go on when its star is between 20 and 25 years old. By comparison, Paul has won just one playoff series in his career and the Hornets have missed the playoffs three times in his career. Howard and Paul excel on both ends of the court but the gap between Howard and the rest of the NBA's centers is bigger than the BRI gulf. Paul is an elite, proven point guard but there are others at or near his level. Howard is in a class by himself and his game is predicated on doing winning things: shooting a high percentage, rebounding at both ends and playing active defense.

Matt Moore: Chris Paul. I'm extremely nervous about this, given that elite point guards, despite the glut of them in the league, have not won a title since Isiah (unless you count Tony Parker, who wasn't the best player on that team). But Chris Paul can do things and be unsolvable in a way Dwight Howard cannot. The model for Howard is pretty simple. Chris Paul is more complex. If you put Chris Paul in a Game 7 with everything on the line, you can count Paul's going to put in a heroic effort. Dwight Howard had the incredible Game 7 vs. Boston in 2009, we're not talking a huge gap here. But I believe Paul's combination of scoring, passing, and key play ability sets him up as the better option to win a title. Howard is solvable, even if that solution is the Hawks': "Let Howard go bananas, foul him a lot, and live with it as long as you shut down the rest of the team." With Chris Paul the answer is "hope the rest of his team is made up of mediocre players and he's missing his near-All-Star power forward." You have to go with the more complete player. 

Question  3: Which one do you take to win you a game in the 4th quarter? 

Royce Young: Chris Paul. Honestly, I'm not sure I'd want ANY player in the league more than Chris Paul to win my team a game in the fourth quarter. First, he's always got the ball in his hands. He's making every decision. He doesn't have to rely on anyone to get him involved. He scores points without even shooting. CP3 carried his Hornets against the Lakers in the playoffs by owning the fourth. Dwight Howard disappears from crunch time, but it's not always his fault. He has to have someone get him the ball, while CP3 can take over all on his own. 

Ben Golliver: Dwight Howard is a 59.8 percent career free throw shooter. Chris Paul is an 85.3 percent free throw shooter. I don't want to make that my sole determining factor but it's definitely a major deciding factor given that both players are perennial All-Star candidates who have been in their fair share of big moments. Combine Paul's dead-eye freethrowing and his excellent decision-making, play-making, and his ability to score off the dribble and from deep, and you've got a prototypical late-game point guard assassin. There's no flaw there. Howard's still got the Achilles Heel and it will dog him until he gets his numbers up or -- like Shaquille O'Neal -- wins a title to silence the detractors.  

Matt Moore: When I say Dwight Howard, you're going to flip out. And I get that. Bear in mind that if you ask me "who do you take to win you a game in the last five minutes of a tied ballgame in the playoffs" I'm going to go Chris Paul all day, every day, for the reasons my colleagues noted. But There are another seven minutes in the game. And in a close game in the fourth quarter, you know what you want to avoid? A tied game in the final five minutes. You want to build a lead, take the lead, extend the lead, remove all hope. You don't want it coming down to roleplayers hitting miracle threes. You don't want it coming down to wing players for either side trading off-dribble ISO pull-up jumpers. You want it done. And the way to do that is to build a lead. A great way to do that is to gather fouls. Howard's free throw shooting is a nightmare, one I've ragged on and have argued is a viable reason not to vote him as MVP last season (thought I thought he was worthy of sharing the honor with Derrick Rose). But drawing fouls throughout the final frame puts pressure on the other team and forces in worse defensive personnel.  Howard shuts down the opponent and puts them on the bench. I want Howard for the whole final frame, even if I don't trust him with the shot or at the line inside five minutes. It's a subtle difference, but an important one.
Posted on: November 6, 2011 4:48 pm

The Biggest Game of the Night We're Missing: 11.6

Posted by Royce Young

Sunday night at Staples. It's almost, well, pardon me for this, a staple in the NBA.

Hornets versus Lakers is pretty much big because it's Chris Paul versus Kobe Bryant and you don't really need another reason to pay attention. Plus, remember how good that series what last postseason? CP3 relishes the opportunity to make statements about his place among superstars and against the Lakers is where you do that.

The Hornets though would be in a bit of a state of transition though. David West may or may not have been with them and without him, Paul and the Hornets would totally be handicapped with no chance. Well that's not true at all. Because if you recall, West didn't play during that playoff series last April and the Hornets darn near pulled that off.

But you can't deny that New Orleans would be missing a weapon like West. Against Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol, the Hornets would need all the inside help they could get.

New Laker head coach Mike Brown is known for his defensive wizardry and while there's not a ton to gameplan for against the Hornets (basically it's, "See No. 3? Guard him with everyone) but Brown would certainly be tested to a degree. Chris Paul makes any team a tough cover because he can pass players open. When New Orleans starts hitting shots, they can become a fairly explosive offensive club.

All that stuff aside, it just comes down to CP3 against Kobe. In our dreams this game would be tight in the fourth quarter with Paul and Kobe exchanging possessions. They operate and dominate games in such opposite ways which is what makes this game such a joy. Kobe has the ball in his hands looking to create his own. CP3 has it looking to create for someone else.

And that video I put at the top? We'd see some of that too. Chris Paul loves to get the Laker big men to switch onto him and then he goes to work putting them in the spin cycle. That's what you want to see at the end of your lazy Sunday.
Posted on: October 24, 2011 7:46 pm
Edited on: October 24, 2011 7:55 pm

Video: Jordan Brand releases 'Love The Game' ad

Posted by Ben Golliver

NBA players, locked out by their league's owners and stuck in a labor impasse, recently attempted to curry public favor with a social media campaign using the words "Let Us Play." Of course, it backfired, as fans pointed out that there was a deal on the table (albeit a terrible one) that would have allowed the players to return to work immediately if they simply signed off on it. Appealing to the public for sympathy and pointing their collective finger at the owners just didn't strike the right chord with fans who can easily find fault with both sides.

Leave it to Jordan Brand to find the proper wording and tone that has eluded the NBPA for months. Building on Nike's "Basketball Never Stops" tagline that's dotted t-shirts at exhibition games throughout the summer, Jordan has released a two-minute long commercial that paints the players in a better light than any Billy Hunter interview could.

Starring Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade, New Orleans Hornets guard Chris Paul and New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony, the ad aims to show how devoted the players are to their craft, regardless of the lockout. To prove it, Wade, Anthony and Paul are shown competing in a variety of pick-up games and intramural leagues near their home NBA market. Wade stars in the Miami Kiwanis Club League, the Flamingo Sr. Rec Center League and the Dade County Municipal League; Paul runs game in the NOLA Inter-Parish League and the Bayou Women's League; Anthony holds court in a Williamsburg pick-up game, at Five-Star Basketball Camp and in the Jewish under-40 league. Wade, Paul, and Anthony face off against opponents of both genders and all ages, races and creeds. 

As the ad wraps, the All-Star trio comes together for an exhibition game in Beijing, China, with fans giddy in anticipation. Finally, the tagline -- "Love The Game... No Matter What" -- splashes on the screen to conclude the commercial.

In terms of pure public relations value, "Love The Game" wins in a landslide over "Let Us Play." Even the most cynical observer can appreciate demonstrated passion for basketball. The players may never win the sympathy of the general public, but putting aside the financial aspects of the lockout to focus on a universal love for the game, as Jordan has done here, should earn them some renewed respect.

Video courtesy of YouTube user Jumpman23.

Hat tip: @DarrenRovell
Posted on: October 21, 2011 12:16 pm

Shocker: Melo wants CP3 in New York

Posted by Royce Young

Carmelo Anthony hasn't forgot about that toast Chris Paul made at his wedding. And with Chauncey Billups' contract up at the end of 2012, the Knicks are going to need a point guard. Guess who Melo wants?

"If it works out and he comes here and they allow him to come here, you'll see a smile from ear to ear," Anthony told the New York Post. "It's not just me. It's everybody [in New York]. If he decides to leave New Orleans and goes somewhere else, they'll be feeling the same way I'm feeling."

You know who else would be feeling that way? Like 26 other teams. Chris Paul, along with Dwight Howard, are the two prizes of 2012. Wherever CP3 goes, he'll take a team and turn it into a contender. Would the Knicks be a fit? Yes, totally. Melo, Amar'e Stoudemire and CP3? That's almost every bit as impressive as what Miami's got, excepet that big three would have a little more natural construction.

But the Knicks just won't have the cap room. Unlike what Pat Riley did with the Heat, the Knicks haven't really cleared the decks for three players to take over the roster. The best shot there is for New York is to wiggle a trade at the deadline using Billups contract. But much like the Knicks went through with acquiring Melo, they don't really have the best offer to make New Orleans. And if Chris Paul doesn't put a disclaimer on a trade like Melo did, I don't see how the Knicks could match an offer made by a lot of other teams.

It just depends on what the new salary cap looks like. If it's a similar system to now, the Knicks could likely get creative and make space. But if it's a harder cap or one with an extreme luxury tax, getting CP3 would be near impossible.

Melo saying this would probably fall under the league's anti-tampering rules, but those don't really exist right now with the players locked out. So go ahead Melo. Any other players you want?
Posted on: October 11, 2011 1:10 pm
Edited on: October 11, 2011 1:20 pm

10 great games we're missing out on

Posted by Royce Young

There will be an NBA season. You can take that to the bank. Or to the grocery store. You can take it somewhere.

But what there won't be is a first two weeks of the season. Those are canceled. Ninety-nine games... gone. Which totally sucks, but that's just the reality. Blame who you want to blame, yell about it to your cab driver, write letters to your congressperson (that's what you're supposed to do, right?), but it doesn't matter. Until the players and owners -- very rich people, mind you -- can agree on how to split up some $4 billion in revenue, we won't be seeing basketball.

Two weeks could very well be the tip of the iceberg. Which would really suck. And what are we missing? Cover your eyes, diehards. It may be too much for you. Here are the 10 best games that vanished like a fart in the wind Monday night.

Bulls at Mavericks (Nov. 1)
Opening night in the NBA was going to be a real treat. It always is because we're all excited the NBA is back, but kicking things off with the Mavericks getting their rings and then taking on the MVP Derrick Rose and one of the East's best teams? Oh yes please.

 It was probably going to be a great game, but just the atmosphere in Dallas as the Mavs took one last victory lap around their trophy was going to be special. Granted, it'll happen eventually, but now it's tainted. It's just not the same anymore.

Thunder at Lakers (Nov. 1)
Wrapping up opening night was young versus old with a delicious matchup of Kevin Durant versus Kobe Bryant. The Thunder and Lakers quietly have a nice little rivalry going that started in the postseason two years ago, but stepped up a bit more when Oklahoma City acquired renowned Laker-hater Kendrick Perkins. Russell Westbrook always goes full tilt against the Lakers -- especially in L.A., where he's from -- and the game's are almost always good.

Plus, this was to be our official introduction to Metta World Peace.

Heat at Knicks (Nov. 2)
It's great that this old rivalry is back to meaning something, but holy starpower Batman. Carmelo. LeBron. Bosh. Amare. Wade. Chauncey. I don't really have to give you more reason as to why this one's a bummer to miss, right?

Magic at Heat (Nov. 3)
The Magic are a curious bunch. They could be good this season. They could be average. But whatever the case, they're going to be fired up to play their neighbor from South Beach. Dwight Howard always brings his best out in big games and I'm having visions of Orlando's awesome 3-point barrage comeback right now from last season.


Mavericks at Spurs (Nov. 4)
Dirk and Tim Duncan -- how many more times will we get to see this matchup of titans? With both hitting the twilight of their careers, each time they square off, it's something precious to hold. Like the few sips of a Neapolitan shake from In-N-Out.

Thunder at Mavericks (Nov. 5)
The "REMATCH REVENGE RIVALRY" hook is a good one and definitely a top reason to be excited for this game, but it's also the type of matchup that almost guarantees a great game. Because here's the thing: If OKC blows out Dallas, Durant's giving you an awesome performance. If Dallas blows out OKC, Dirk probably dropped a ridiculously efficient line.

There would be flashbacks to their great Western Finals series and you know Russell Westbrook would be ready to try and stick it to his critics.

Hornets at Lakers (Nov. 6)

Remember how Chris Paul completely torched the Lakers in the opening round in last season's playoffs? Remember how he, and he alone, gave the Lakers a good scare?

He was probably going to do something like that again. Sad face.

Clippers at Bulls (Nov. 8)
Blake Griffin? Derrick Rose? Yeah, I like watching both of those guys play. What's that? I could've been watching them both play AT THE SAME TIME? Pretty much the NBA equivalent of having your cake and eating it too.

Spurs at Lakers (Nov. 9)
Time's running out for both these teams. Each year it feels like the Spurs will start to take a dip and then they win 60 games again. Same goes for the Lakers. These two franchises don't exactly like each other, which happens when you're always competing against the other for a trophy. Tim Duncan and Gregg Popovich relish beating the Lakers and always bring their best to Staples.

Thunder at Bulls (Nov. 10)

You know how we're all talking about how the NBA's in such a good place right now, especially because of the young players who will inherit the spotlight? This is kind of the Super Bowl for that idea. Rose, Westbrook and Durant are three superstars under the age of 24 and all who have great attitudes and understand the game.

Plus, their teams are really, really good.

Too bad this game, or really, all of these 99, don't exist anymore. I'd take Timberwolves-Raptors 10 straight times at this point.
Posted on: September 24, 2011 2:36 pm
Edited on: September 24, 2011 2:36 pm

First up for each team in a post-lockout world

Posted by Royce Young

So the lockout could be ending soon, depending on who you're listening to. Maybe it extends into the season, but if it doesn't and a deal gets settled in the next few weeks, we're going to have one heck of a free agency period. Really, no matter when it's settled, we're going to have one wild free agency period.

(Unless we were to miss all of 2011-12 and you combined this class with next year's group. Now that would be something.)

If you thought the summer of 2010 was a frenzy, try cramming it all into a two-week period. Maybe I'm just thinking of how horrible it'll be for me. Regardless, you can be sure that all 30 teams have a pre-written itinerary on what they want to accomplish once the lockout is lifted. They have been planning, plotting and preparing to target the players they want or finish up a few final transactions on the roster.

But what's the first order of business for everybody? What's the priority, the thing that each team wants to get done right away? Here's a stab at each team's top job.

Atlanta Hawks: It really appears that the Hawks are ready and willing to let Jamal Crawford walk, but there's still a decision to made whether or not they want to compete for him in the free agent market. He was a key part of the team that made a somewhat surprising run to the Eastern Semifinals and re-signing him could be a priority. Problem is, they don't really have the funds for it.

Boston Celtics: What happens with Jeff Green? The Celtics have already tendered him a qualifying offer, but someone surely will extend him an offer sheet. The Celtics have issues at center still and Glen Davis is unrestricted, but figuring out Jeff Green's situation is probably weighing heaviest on Danny Ainge's mind.

Charlotte Bobcats: The Bobcats made a big splash in the draft, but if that's going to matter, they've got to get Bismack Biyombo on the team. His buyout could still be a major issue and though he says he'll be on the team when training camp starts, that's definitely up in the air.

Chicago Bulls: Wing scorer. Say it with me, wing scorer. Derrick Rose needs help (and an extension) in a big time way and it's up to Gar Foreman and company to find that help. Jamal Crawford maybe? Caron Butler? J.R. Smith if he wasn't in China? Someone has to give Rose a little offensive help and that's the top priority for the Bulls.

Cleveland Cavaliers: First thing? Putting Baron Davis on the scales to make sure he doesn't weigh 300 pounds. After that, there isn't a whole lot to be done in Cleveland. The club's rebuilding around their two lottery picks and you don't want to crowd the roster in a way that stunts their development.

Dallas Mavericks: The defending champs have a whole lot on their plate once the lockout ends. Caron Butler's contract is up. So is J.J. Barea's. So is DeShawn Stevenson's. So is Brian Cardinal's (just kidding -- well it is up, but you know what I mean). But the first order of business for Mark Cuban is to get Tyson Chandler re-signed. Not just that though, but to get him re-signed to a number that makes sense for the make-up of the roster.

Denver Nuggets: Despite the lockout, the Nuggets have kind of been gutted. J.R. Smith, Kenyon Martin and Wilson Chandler are in China until at least March. Danilo Gallinari signed in Italy but has an NBA out. But all of that doesn't matter near as much as getting Nene re-signed. Without Nene, it doesn't matter. With Nene, there's still something worth building around.

Detroit Pistons: The Pistons are kind of trying to quietly usher out the old and bring in some new. Tayshaun Prince is a free agent, but I don't think they care. What'll be most interesting is how they handle Rodney Stuckey. The Pistons drafted Brandon Knight in June with Stuckey already their point guard. Do they want Knight to take over? Do they want to play them together? Share the role? Sorting out Stuckey's future is definitely what Joe Dumars has to do first.

Golden State Warriors: The Warriors could be players in free agency, but really, it's about deciding once and for all if Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry really are the backcourt tandem of the future for the team. If there's a time to move on, it's now when both of their values are still high. The Warriors flirted with dealing Ellis last season but it didn't happen. They're probably planning on revisiting that.

Houston Rockets: First order of business: Properly sending off Yao with a jersey retirement ceremony. After that, the Rockets are fairly settled, though you know Daryl Morey is just itching to pick up a phone and start transacting once the lockout's over.

Indiana Pacers: The Pacers have a number of expiring deals and aren't likely looking to re-sign them (maybe Josh McRoberts, maybe Jeff Foster). Larry Bird has been hunting more pieces to add to his mediocre roster for a while and you can be sure the Pacers are going to target some of the bigger free agent names in this class.

Los Angeles Clippers: Eric Gordon is ready for an extension, but the Clippers better be ready to match any offer DeAndre Jordan gets. You might not think that's a big deal, but forget Chris Kaman. The future of the Clips frontcourt is Blake Griffin and Jordan. You seven-footer from Texas A&M finally started figuring himself out a little last season and he's not far off from becoming a major defensive impact player.

Los Angeles Lakers: Shannon Brown's unrestricted, but he's really not that much of an impact player to be that concerned with. The Lakers might have to focus on how to re-structure the roster to suit a new CBA that could greatly cut into their total salary. Will they have to move Lamar Odom? Metta World Peace? But first things first: Giving Kobe and Mike Brown a proper introduction and letting them figure out the direction of the offense.

Memphis Grizzlies: Marc Gasol. That's it for Memphis. It'd be nice to get Shane Battier back, but it's all about Gasol.

Miami Heat: It's kind of been overlooked, but Pat Riley and the Heat have a busy couple weeks waiting on them. Mike Bibby, Jamaal Magloire, Juwan Howard, Erick Dampier and James Jones are all unrestricted and Mario Chalmers is restricted. It's decision time for the Heat. Do they start restocking with veteran talent or look to get younger and develop?

Milwaukee Bucks: That first practice in Milwaukee is something Scott Skiles has probably been thinking about for a while. "Brandon, this is Stephen. Stephen, this is Brandon." The Bucks have some new talent as Stephen Jackson joins Brandon Jennings, but how will they get along?

Minnesota Timberwolves: Here's what David Kahn's to-do list looks like: 1) Hug Ricky. 2) Hug Darko. 3) Overpay a questionable free agent at a position you already have three guys. What it should look like: 1) Convince Kevin Love somehow to sign an extension. 2) Get rid of Michael Beasley and let Derrick Williams have the starting small forward spot all to himself. 3) Tell Rick Adelman to do his thing.

New Jersey Nets: Kris Humphies is an important piece of business but his re-signing goes hand in hand with the larger thing: Proving to Deron Williams that this is a place he wants to re-sign. The Nets have to take advantage right away of showing Williams they're serious about winning. And you do that by getting him some immediate help.

New Orleans Hornets: It's all about David West for the Hornets. Yes, he suffered a major knee injury last season. But he chose to become an unrestricted free agent and a team like the Nets is likely to come calling quickly. Can the Hornets hang on to Chris Paul's buddy?

New York Knicks: The Knicks have a little bit coming off the books but really they need to try and resist the urge to do something drastic in this free agency period. Which they will because of the big names coming up in 2012. Still, they want to field a solid team for this season -- and Mike D'Antoni needs them too -- so adding a quality veteran to help on the inside would be good.

Oklahoma City Thunder: The young Thunder roster is pretty much entirely set up. But Sam Presti has something to do right away once the lockout ends -- get Russell Westbrook his extension. Presti brought Kevin Durant his at midnight last July to make sure there was no doubt about locking up his superstar. Presti better be stalking Westbrook's house on the whim he lockout ends so he can extend the same treatment to his other star.

Orlando Magic: First order of business for Otis Smith and the Magic? Resume begging Dwight Howard to stay. One way to show it would be to get him some help, but Smith sort of laid those cards on the table last year in the Gilbert Arenas/Hedo Turkoglu trade. So it's back to convincing Howard there's a plan for the future and that it'll get better.

Philadelphia 76ers: Someone is ready and willing to give Thaddeus Young a serious offer, so the Sixers better be ready to match anything and everything.

Phoenix Suns: Steve Nash's trade value will be highest at the beginning of the season, so it's up to Lance Blanks and Robert Sarver to figure out if they're ready to move on. Aaron Brooks is a restricted free agent so if the Suns lock him up by matching an offer sheet, that'll be an indication that the Suns are preparing for life without Nash.

Portland Trail Blazers: The Blazers are in love with Nicolas Batum, so extending him could be the first order of business, but really, the Blazers need to find a new general manager first. And whoever that guy is needs to decide that if for the off chance someone gives Greg Oden an offer, if he's willing to match. Oden already has an $8.8 qualifying offer, which is huge, so once Oden signs that, he'll likely be signing with the Blazers for another year.

Sacramento Kings: The Jimmer-Tyreke backcourt is going to be an interesting experiment, but Marcus Thornton is quietly one of the more intriguing free agents out there. The Bulls are likely looking at him long and hard right now. He's restricted, so the Kings could keep him, but the question is, with Tyreke moving off the ball for good and Jimmer handling the point, is it worth paying Thornton to just have him come off the bench?

San Antonio Spurs: Um, I guess just resume the typical day-to-day of the Spurs. Gregg Popovich is the longest tenured coach with a team and R.C. Buford probably isn't looking to go do anything drastic in this market. The Spurs are definitely aging, but there's not a lot to be done about that right now.

Toronto Raptors: Assuming the Raptors actually have Jonas Valanciunas for next season, Dwane Casey and company have to figure out if he's ready to cover for Andrea Bargnani on the inside. Can those two really play together and handle enough rebounding and defensive duties? The Raptors are in a place where they have to wait and see with some young players and aren't likely targeting any big names in the open market.

Utah Jazz: Most likely, Andrei Kirilenko won't be re-signing with the Jazz. So Kevin O'Connor will have to make a choice when the lockout's over: Does he try and restock a roster that can maybe squeak out the eight-seed, or does he commit to rebuilding around Enes Kanter, Derrick Favors and others and just let them play it out? The Jazz would love to get some wing scoring help, so O'Connor will probably at least look that direction, but we'll have to see how serious he is.

Washington Wizards: It's not an earth-shattering decision, but Nick Young is a restricted free agent. And with his scoring ability, someone is ready to pay him. Do the Wizards want to keep him? Do they want to look elsewhere and maybe target say, Marcus Thornton? Or do they just let Young walk and see what Jordan Crawford's got?
Posted on: September 15, 2011 2:38 pm

Hornets have 'handful' of potential buyers

Posted by Royce Young

The New Orleans are making progress with a sticky situation despite this whole lockout business. The NBA-owned franchise are pushing forward in their drive to secure 10,000 season ticket holders as the team announced Wednesday that 9,003 have been sold. And there's still a month (or more...) to go before the season starts.

One thing that needs to happen though: The Hornets need an owner. Right now the league maintains ownership but obviously that's not a long-term solution. David Stern said in August there were potential local buyers lining up and now via the Times-Picayune, there could be something brewing on the ownership front.
Sperling travels to Dallas today for a meeting of the NBA Board of Governors, where representatives will be updated on the status of the negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement with the players.

Owners also could be apprised of the Hornets’ offseason sales successes.

Sperling wouldn’t identify any of the potential ownership groups. But one likely is headed by former minority owner Gary Chouest, who said at the time of the ownership transfer in December that he didn’t want to part with his 35 percent stake in the team.

“You can say there are people who live here who are potential buyers, and there are people who don’t live here who are potential buyers to keep the team here,” Sperling said.

Sperling wouldn’t say whether having a new collective bargaining agreement is crucial to identifying a new owner. Team representatives are prohibited under threat of fine to comment on labor matters.

The strategy for the Hornets -- and it's been a wise one -- has been to boost ticket sales and corporate sponsorship over the past months to make the team that much more enticing to a potential buyer. That way whoever were to step in would have a solid season ticket base in place and also would have a precedent set for sponsorship and ticket sales.

It's certainly working as corporate sponsorships are up and ticket sales strong. But there isn't a buyer yet. And that's the next order of business. Though I'm sure getting the lockout resolved would certainly help that along.
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