Life as a Hornets fan is very cyclical. Alonzo Mourning, Larry Johnson and Muggsy Bogues gave everyone hope before contract disputs between Johnson and Mourning forced the two to refuse to co exist and lead to both of them being shipped off to the Heat and Knicks, respectively. Baron Davis, Jamal Mashburn, David Wesley and company came within a game of the Eastern Conference Finals in 2001 before losing to the Milwaukee Bucks in game seven of that series. They proceeded to slowly let injuries cripple the team before they were destined for medicority until the God awful 2004-2005 rebuilding season.
Last year's Hornets were supposed to give us fans new hope once again. At this time last season, the acquisition of James Posey looked exactly like what the Hornets needed to push them over the top. After all, they had one of the best players in the league in Chris Paul, one of the most underrated players in the league in David West and they now had a player that brought defense and championship intangibles to help this young squad learn how to win. But then the circle completed this season and dark days look to be ahead for the Hornets once again.
Contracts ruined the promising 1993 team and injuries to Davis and Mashburn slowly crippled, no pun intended, that promising 2001 team. However, both of those cost the Hornets this season and look as if they will curse the team for the next few seasons. Chris Paul is still one of the best players in the league. David West, although no longer underrated, is still as viable a second option as you will find in this league. But the Hornets spent big time to land Posey. At the time, there's nothing wrong with that. After all, crunching numbers in regards to salary isn't becoming of a possible championship team. As much fault as George Shinn receives, he paid to make this team win this season. However, things quickly fell apart once again for the Hornets.
At this time, most of us Hornets fans were given hope that we'd be celebrating a possible first championship in franchise history. At worst, another postseason run looked to be in the cards. However, things didn't go that way at all. Tyson Chandler, Peja Stojakovic and Morris Peterson, three of the five starters that pushed the Spurs to a 7th game in the 2008 Western Conference Semifinals, all missed substantial time and Paul and West were therefore forced to play heavy minutes while nursing elbow, knee, back and groin injuries. The end result was a dissapointing 49-33 season. The end result was an embarassing performance in the 2009 postseason against the Denver Nuggets. The end result was what looks to be one of the most dissapointing offseasons in Hornets history.
David West may have to be traded so that the team can unload either Chandler or Stojakovic's ridiculous salaries. When you're a small market team, you usually tend to have to overspend on above average players so that they can come to your franchise. It's payed off for the Magic with Rashard Lewis, for now, but it hasn't worked out that well for the Hornets with Stojakovic. Two of his three seasons have been littered with back injuries and, although he had a really good 2008 season, he's nothing more than a spot shooter; an expensive and inconsistent spot shooter at that. How they can convince anybody to take him off their hands I won't know. Chandler is a player who has spent eight seasons in the league and has shown a knack for injuries in all of those seasons. It's well publicized that the team wanted to trade him to the Oklahoma City Thunder only for the Thunder to rescind the trade due to Chandler's big toe problems. However, it was his ankle that forced him to be a sad figure at the end of the season and in the playoffs.
Times are especially hard for the Hornets because the team is flat broke. Although attendance this season was at an all time high since the team's relocation to New Orleans, ticket prices were among the lowest in the league and have to remain at that level in order for fans to show up. Last season's attendance numbers were attrocious until the team caught fire around February. Due to the inability to make any money off of the fans because of the city that they reside in, the Hornets are forced to make up for their payroll with victories and extended apperances in the postseason. Needless to say, giving consistently big minutes to Sean Marks at the center position isn't going to set you up for success in the playoffs.
The Hornets have Chris Paul to build around, so this rebuilding process won't be as bad. And they can still attract a Brandon Bass or a Joe Smith to come on board and may add Jannero Pargo back to the team (although I don't see why they need to do that since they drafted Collison). But make no mistake about it, this is an uncertain time for Hornets fans. One year ago, all the reason in the world for optimism. Currently, nothing to get excited about. It's funny how sports works.