Tag:New Orleans
Posted on: April 24, 2011 10:30 pm
Edited on: April 24, 2011 10:36 pm
 

Phil Jackson makes joke about New Orleans water

Posted by Matt Moore

We're sure Phil didn't mean it that way. He couldn't have, because meaning it that way would mean a reckless insensitivity to an area ravaged by one of the worst natural disasters in United States history.  There have always been problems in the water supply in a city with the complex and relatively ancient physical infrastructure it struggles with, on top of the delta environment. So this is almost definitely not as bad as it sounds.

From the Los Angeles Daily News
Jackson has made no secret of his dislike for New Orleans, and he couldnt keep his feelings to himself when asked Friday if he might return to the Crescent City to enjoy its delights after he retires from coaching at seasons end. 
"I refuse to comment on the grounds that I might incriminate myself," he said. Pause. 
"Just dont drink the water," he added.
via Lakers NOTEBOOK: Bryant makes call on defending Paul - LA Daily News .

I mean, Katrina was six whole years ago. So, really, why would anyone think of the place where water is still a word that sends fear through the people as they continue to try and recover from one of the worst experiences in American history when Phil says that? 

People are so sensitive... mostly because that's what happens when your entire city gets flooded when the levees overflow after a Category 3 Hurricane hits it. And hey, Jackson was only telling reporters in the second most media-heavy market in the United States. It's a wonder it even got out. The city of New Orleans, it should note, is not amused

Maybe the next time Phil's looking for another addition to his book club, he can check this one out .
Category: NBA
Posted on: December 13, 2010 10:35 pm
Edited on: December 13, 2010 11:42 pm
 

Heat flip switch on the Hornets, win 9th straight

Posted by Royce Young

The Heat are finding something that great teams tend to have - The Switch. When the game is close, or a pesky opponent just won't completely go away, the Heat flip it. They crank it up, turn it on and completely take over.

It's what they've used to run off what's now nine straight wins after beating the Hornets 96-84 Monday night. The Heat are becoming a team of big, late runs and it's devastating their opponents. It's kind of amazing to watch a three-point lead swell to 17 for the Heat in what seems like minutes.

It starts with defense, as the Heat force turnovers and long droughts. The Hornets were the victim of it in this one was they watched the Heat sprint out to a big fourth quarter lead with an 18-2 run that stretched between the third and fourth quarters.

New Orleans was just overwhelmed by the Heat. Really, it didn't seem like they could do anything to fix the Heat's run. Once Miami flipped the switch, it just felt like the game was over.

Here's what's most impressive about the Heat's winning streak. Every single game has come by double-digits. The last team to do that? LeBron's 2008-09 Cavs. In fact, the Heat are now just one off the record shared by five teams.

On top of that, all nine the Heat have held their opponent under 100 points. Against the Hornets, Miami gave up just 30 after the half and only nine points in the fourth quarter. Nine points for the Hornets in the last 12 minutes. That's just... insane.

(An aside: What the crap is wrong with the Hornets and Chris Paul? CP3 has completely disappeared down the stretch in games. He's not asserting himself into the offense and is completely drifting. As Paul goes, so does David West, Emeka Okafor and everyone else. Paul is fizzling late and it's killing the Hornets.)

But what's making all of this possible for the Heat is that they're kind of becoming a team. They look functional. They looked defined. They look like they actually know what they're trying to do. And I think Erik Spoelstra deserves a lot of credit for that.

Spoelstra's most brilliant coaching isn't really coming from figuring out how to get LeBron and Wade to play together. It's the way he's using them without each other. The way Spoelstra is using his rotation is working better than ever. LeBron closes the third while Wade sits. Then LeBron sits to start the fourth, while Wade checks in. There's just a rhythm and a flow in the way the game is going now. By the time the two come back on the floor together in crunch time, it's only about getting stops and key buckets down the stretch.

On top of that, another change is using a point guard in the fourth quarter. Mario Chalmers controlled everything, setting up the offense and running plays. Instead of just letting Wade and LeBron take turn playing point guard, Spoelstra is trying to make his team function as an actual basketball team. And it's working.

Those changes have been part of what's sparked the Heat into a big streak and really what's sparking them into the game-changing runs. At some point in each game, the Heat mutate into that terrifying unit we all thought they would be. They can beat you with just five minutes. That lockdown and run is coming at some point and if you want to beat the Heat, you've just got to weather the storm. Monday, the Hornets were swallowed whole.
Posted on: December 8, 2010 10:23 pm
Edited on: December 8, 2010 10:46 pm
 

The NBA's NOLA dilemma: PR versus profit

As the NBA zeroes in on its acquisition of the Hornets, a moral versus business conundrum awaits the league and its owners over the future of basketball in New Orleans. 
Posted by Matt Moore



Let's start here: No one wants to move the New Orleans Hornets. You can't have watched footage of people dying in the Superdome and not have a soft spot in your heart for the Crescent City. The issue for the NBA as it takes ownership of the team is not one of what would make them and the rest of the world feel good. They know what that is. Find a local owner, keep the team in New Orleans, and everyone lives happily ever after. 

The question is whether that's a viable option and if they really feel that they're not just throwing money down a hole. The financial documents that came out Tuesday from Deadspin outlining the massive financial woes in New Orleans present a significant dilemma for the NBA and its owners as they try and determine the future of this franchise. There were questions about the viability of New Orleans as a market well before a hurricane overwhelmed the levies, and the questions extend not just to attendance and fan interest, but to market economics, sponsorship revenue, and the complete financial situation in New Orleans. This is all before we start to look at the relationship with the city's mayor and Louisiana's governor, both of whom have been very clear about one thing. They hope the NBA commits to keeping the Hornets in the city, but they will not be providing financial handouts in the form of tax breaks or anything else in order to make that happen. Not in this economy, not during the city's continued recovery, and not for a franchise that is a distant third in sports within the wards. (The other two being football and drinking.)

That's where things get tricky. If the NBA is pursuing its due diligence and trying to find the situation that yields the most promise financially within a decent time frame, it's difficult to see New Orleans as the answer to the riddle. Kansas City offers the building ready for attendance now, but has its own set of market questions. Anaheim offers the market and the building. Seattle offers the market and ownership. If David Stern is correct and this issue won't be resolved until after the CBA is resolved, that gives Seattle time to finance a new building as well as for Las Vegas to get approval for a new arena. Other cities waiting for the right situation might be in a better position by then to create an actual bidding war, which would only make it more difficult for the owners to select a bid from New Orleans. 

And yet, at the end of it, there are many positive signs towards New Orleans. Several owners are starting to make noise about being interested in offers. The goodwill of keeping the Hornets in New Orleans is something the league could use after ripping the Sonics away from Seattle under similar (though less emotional circumstances). Keeping the team local is the easy solution. But it also may be viewed as the impossible dream by owners. When the vote to move Seattle to OKC was made, only two owners voted against the measure, Paul Allen in the same area, and Mark Cuban, who questioned moving a big market team to a small market. Similar thoughts could be in play as the owners who voted for the most financially viable option follow suit and owners who question failing markets like New Orleans may not be moved enough to keep the team there. 

At the end of the day, the NBA seems very much in place to make a real "good faith" effort to keep the team in New Orleans. But the realities of the situation may force their hand in a direction no one wants to see. 
In unrelated news, the Hornets drew just a little over 10,000 for their game against the Pistons Wednesday night. 
Posted on: December 6, 2010 1:21 pm
Edited on: December 7, 2010 1:50 pm
 

The Hornets' potential relocation future examined

Should the Hornets not remain in New Orleans, where might they end up? We look at the options.  Posted by Matt Moore


With the NBA expected to take hold of the New Orleans Hornets without a locked on buyer in place, the next question will come immediately. What if a non-NOLA buyer comes through with the best offer? It's the money of the league and the owners that's being invested in removing George Shinn once and for all from the ranks of NBA ownership (see ya, George, don't let the luxury tax hit you on the way out), and the league will have a responsibility to both pursue and accept the best offer available. Should that offer come from someone outside the greater New Orleans area, it's entirely possible that the Hornets could be playing somewhere else in the near future. 

We've been down this road before. And while New Orleans lacks the great and storied history of the Sonics franchise, no one wants to see a city that fought back from the greatest natural disaster to hit a major metropolitan area in United States history lose its team. But this isn't about PR or kids with jerseys or history or anything else. It's about money. And other cities not only have incentive to bring in the team, but the most important assets to convince the NBA to abandon New Orleans: the buildings. 

New Orleans arena was built in 1999 for $114 million. It has a capacity of 18,000, 44 luxury suites, and has been described as "bland." It does not receive rave reviews from sponsors, guests, or media. The other cities in play have both newer arenas, as well as arenas fit more ably for modern NBA economics (luxury suites), etc. Others who do not have such arenas have the awesome draw of the almighty large market. 

So who are the prospective scavengers who might be circling while the Hornets continue to fill ... well, kind of fill New Orleans Arena? Here are the names being floated. (All arena information courtesy of Ballparks.com )

Kansas City: Kansas City once had an NBA team, the Kansas City Kings, now the Sacramento Kings, formerly the Cincinnati Kings, formerly the Rochester Royals, and briefly the Kansas City-Omaha Kings. But the team was terrible, management was terrible, and soon the team was off to Sacramento and the welcome bosom of cowbells. Kansas City is most often criticized as being a "college town," "a baseball town," "a football town" (what isn't?) and unable to support three major pro teams. The last of these criticisms ring most true as both the Royals and Chiefs struggle to fill their stadiums to reasonable capacities during down years (or as we Kansas Citizens like to call them, "the last ten years."

The "college town" aspect is a double-edged sword. While it's true that nearby KU and two-hour-neighbor MU hold the town's attention during basketball season, many of their players wind up in the pros. And at its heart, it's easy to argue that KC is a basketball town. It held the Big 12 tournament for years and the Big 8 before that. (And by "before that" I mean "before Texas used its influence to rob any other school in the Big 12 of any influence"). When the Heat and Thunder played a preseason game this fall, a packed house was in place. Then again, that's the Heat. Some towns simply aren't built for the pro game, and that's the argument of some in regards to KC. 

That said, the jewel in their crown is pretty simple. It's the building. Sprint Center, built in 2005 and opened in 2007, has a capacity of 18,555 with a considerably higher number of available luxury suites and club seating due to how the building was constructed. Specifically, the arena was built to capitalize on how current arena economics work. Tickets are valuable, to be sure, but the money is made with sponsorships, and luxury seating. 

What's missing? A buyer. AEG who owns the Sprint Center, made noise early on about pursuing either a hockey or basketball team to fill the arena. But with the Pittsburgh Penguins using them as a straw man to get a new arena in Pittsburgh, there has been no team to arrive. Furthermore, it turns out the arena is making more money as a concert venue than it may with a regular tenant. With the recession having hit Kansas City well before the rest of the country and a lack of progressive technology firms in the area, finding a prospective owner outside of AEG is going to be a hard sell. Kansas City remains a viable candidate but it remains to be seen if either AEG or the city will commit to making a serious inquiry toward the Hornets. 

St. Louis: Two Show-Me cities with an interest in basketball. Many of the same concerns with Kansas City pop up with St. Louis, only their baseball team pretty much guarantees a significant dropoff of attendance right when the playoffs would start. St. Louis has the population, and has the building (the Scottrade Center where the Blues play). 

The talks of St. Louis have never been as discussed as some of the other cities on this list, but with the Hornets being in such a unique position, it's possible a group could develop to push for a new team under the arch. 

Anaheim: Ah, California. Fun, sun, beaches, and lots and lots of sports teams. With the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers turning such a huge profit (despite the Clippers being, well, the Clippers) it's no wonder the NBA would be interested in another California team. Anaheim's done well with the Angels and Ducks, and though the market would no doubt be over-saturated should the Hornets relocate to the nearby neighbor of the City of Angels, the high cost of living would bring ticket prices to a point where profit is a near-given. 

As for the arena? They've already got one in place. The Honda Center, home of the Anaheim Ducks, has a capacity of 17,174, with 84 luxury seats and 1,716 club seats. That's a lot of dough in a place ripe with firms looking to purchase such tickets for clients and as perks. It would make the fifth California team along with the Kings (should the Kings stick around in Sacramento) and Warriors, and the area has been invested in looking for a team for a few years. 

In truth, Anaheim is a low-risk move, but could also backfire if the city simply can't sustain three franchises, regardless of its proximity to LA. Additionally, it's unknown if Jerry Buss, who runs the league about as much as anyone who isn't David Stern, would be amiable to another competitor near his market. He brought in Donald Sterling to own and move the San Diego Clippers, but an outsider honing in on his territory may not go over well, despite the massive, all-encompassing popularity and profitability of the Lakers. 

Las Vegas : Long story short, there's no arena, but they're willing to build one if a team is relocated. It's a PR disaster for the league, but a financial windfall for the owners. While the fanbase is sure to be fickle, every high priced mogul and entertainer would have seats, and good ones, for a high price. Sponsorships would be easier to sell than lemonade in hell, and attracting free agents would be a snap. Nice weather, fun city, profitability, and the draw of having the city all to itself in professional sports? What's stopping them?

They still don't have the building. 

There's a group in place pushing for it who even said they had a team lined up . And petitions are being gathered in order to get a vote before the state legislature, but no word has come if they have received enough. The situation remains in flux. 

Seattle: As tempted as I am to scream "Back of the line!" considering Seattle voters had multiple chances to pressure their representatives to save the Sonics and chose to make their stand against corporate greed in the form of publicly funded arenas for privately held teams, it's hard to argue with the fact that Seattle got outright screwed in the Clay Bennett relocation of the Sonics to Oklahoma City as the Thunder. The fanbase is passionate, it's a large market, renewing basketball there would be seen as a good PR move that could dampen the outrage of taking a team away from the city that survived Katrina, and all that merchandise has already been manufactured with the Sonics logo.

The problem?

You guessed it. They still  don't have the building. Key Arena simply isn't up to snuff, built in 1962. But with a capacity of 17,072, it does hold 58 suites and 1,702 club seats. It can make money, but not nearly in the way some of the other newer arenas can, and renovation costs would be high (hence Bennett's ability to squeeze out). Seattle fans have been clamoring for public officials to finance a new stadium, knowing the presence of an open building would bring a team back like moths to a flame. No dice, so far. 

The biggest thing Seattle has going for it? Rich people. With Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer vocal about the possibility of reacquiring a team, and with enough tech money in the area to finance a new arena in part, Seattle simply has the dough. While Seattle gets off more than it should for its complicity in the relocation of the Sonics, the fans were screwed, and this would go a long way with repairing national damage to the NBA's image in that event. Because moving New Orleans is fine, but Seattle really needs a team, apparently. 

Chicago : This one was brought up by Sports Illustrated  this week and it's an interesting question. Could Chicago support a sixth sports team, and a second basketball team? The Bulls undoubtedly would always be the favorite, the Yankees to the other team's Mets, as it were, but the market is indeed large enough to support a second team. Chicago has some of the best sports fans in the country, and attendance is almost always at stable league measures across sports. There are certainly enough investors to drum up an ownership group if someone was interested in a majority share, and sponsorships wouldn't be an issue, either. 

But what about the building? It already exists. 

The Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers, and Los Angeles Kings all occupy the Staples Center. While Staples is newer than Chicago's United Center which currently hosts the Bulls and defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks, the United Center is bigger, and you can make the dates work. The question would be if it would make financial sense for the United Center to give up the free nights for eight months of the year (geez the NBA season is long) in exchange for the tenant, and whether logistics costs would skyrocket too much with having to handle the demands of three teams. 

A second Chicago team would satisfy the NBA owners contingent's interest in a stable, big-market location. An at least temporary arena is in place should the team's owners decide they want their own digs in another part of town, and it's hard to see there being no interest in the club given how rabid Chicago sports fans are.  But that's a whole lot of teams in one market, and even New York has not had more than the Knicks in several decades (though they're due for a new neighbor in 2012). It would simultaneously be the easy way out and a bold move for the league to approve and push for a second team in the Windy City. 

New Orleans : If Gary Chouest is out, a new owner in New Orleans is going to have to come out of left field. The fact that the franchise now looks like a garage sale isn't probably going to bring owners out, at least not the ones the NBA would want. But hey, there's a blog of fans looking for investors to make the $17,000 investment so that the city could own the team. Imagine a blog running an NBA team. We're pretty sure that's about three steps from the apocalypse. 

All kidding aside, the NBA is right to pursue local ownership. We saw with Seattle how traumatic losing a team can be. And while Hornets fans certainly don't have the history or passion of those Sonics fans in number, there's no reason they don't have that quality of investment. Kids still love going to Hornets games with their families, and guys still go Hornets games and yell about Emeka Okafor after the game like any city. The right thing to do would be to keep the Hornets in New Orleans. 

The problem is that these days, the right thing to do is almost never the right business decision to make. 

We'll keep you updated as the Hornets' ownership situation develops.
Posted on: July 19, 2010 9:57 am
Edited on: July 19, 2010 9:59 am
 

CP3 to Charlotte?

Posted by Royce Young

Former Hornets general manager Jeff Bower lost his job because his shopping of Chris Paul reportedly caused some strain with ownership. But as Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer writes , Paul is "open" to a trade and Bonnell sees Charlotte as a prime destination.

Besides citing the fact that Charlotte is near home for Paul who grew up in nearby Winston-Salem, Bonnell sees it as doable because of the Bobcats ability to offer both financial relief in Erick Dampier's unguaranteed $13 million salary, along with actual talent in Gerald Wallace, Gerald Henderson and D.J. Augustin.

If Paul sours on the Hornets and wants out, Charlotte definitely appears like it could be a prime destination. There's the Michael Jordan connection (CP3 is on the Jordan Brand and grew up in North Carolina), it's close to home and the Bobcats can reconcile the trade by giving the Hornets assets and cap relief.

New Orleans appears to be a mess right now with Bower recently being fired, team president Hugh Weber rescinding a contract to Luther Head for apparently no reason and oh yeah, the roster isn't very good either. So picturing CP3 demanding a way out isn't that hard to do. Owner George Shinn absolutely loves Paul and would probably fight to keep him, but with Shinn selling the team to Gary Chouest, things could change there. It's obviously all wild speculation at this point, but it certainly could become reality.

Hornets new head coach Monty Williams is planning to meet with Paul in the near future to discuss his status with the team. I'm thinking Williams will say something like, "Please don't ever leave me."


Posted on: July 13, 2010 6:55 pm
Edited on: July 13, 2010 7:08 pm
 

Hornets and GM Bower "mutually" part ways

Posted by Royce Young

New Orleans GM Jeff Bower has been released by the Hornets, the team announced Tuesday afternoon . The team said Bower and the Hornets "mutually" parted ways.

Multiple others have put out more details with Adrian Wojnarowski mentioning that the team made the decision 7-10 days ago , but have waited on announcing it because the Hornets have used that time ot identify replacements.  As far as early leading contenders, obviously Kevin Pritchard, Danny Ferry and Thunder assistant GMs Troy Weaver and Rich Cho will likely be in the discussion.

But Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman mentions one other candidate. George Shinn's son Chad.

"Chad Shinn, son of owner George, also has been grooming 4 a prominent pos. in the org," Mayberry tweeted . "Chad loves the basketball side & would love GM title.
"

So what brought this on? Early indications are that Bower's willingness to shop franchise player Chris Paul caused tension between Bower and George Shinn.

The Hornets have been a franchise in an odd state of transition for the past few years. First, Katrina made them homeless until Oklahoma City temporarily housed them. Then they got really good and made a serious run in the postseason. Then Bower spent a lot of money on guys like James Posey and Peja Stojakovic and NOLA found themselves in some financial distress. Then they fired former Coach of the Year Byron Scott, Bower appointed himself coach and the team missed the playoffs. Which catches us up to today, where Bower is let go.

New Orleans is surely an intriguing place for a high-profile candidate like Pritchard, assuming the Hornets pay up. Any time Chris Paul is already in place as the cornerstone, the job of rebuilding gets a lot easier and more attractive. Just don't try and trade him I guess.

 
 
 
 
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