Sitting at 26-48, the Hornets head to Golden State tomorrow night to take on the Warriors. With only eight games remaining, it sounds like the team will have some decisions to make in the offseason. Let's round up all things New Orleans here on this Tuesday night:
- Hornets coach Monty Williams does not foresee the Hornets (soon to be the Pelicans) having any problems attracting top talent this offseason, writes John Reid of The Times-Picayune. Along with the name change, the New Orleans franchise has a 55,000 square foot practice facility in the works as well as ample cap space to make a splash. Williams says that multiple free-agents-to-be have suggested to him during games that they'd love to play for him in New Orleans.
- Williams addressed the idea of changes to the team's roster over the
summer, notes Jim Eichenhofer of Hornets.com (Twitter link). "That’s just the nature of
it. When you have a record like we have, you’re not going to settle for this
production," Williams said.
expressed his displeasure with the team's small forwards
earlier this season, and Jeff Duncan of The Times-Picayune echoes
that sentiment, imploring the team to prioritize an upgrade at the three this
summer. As it stands now, the Hornets use Al-Farouq Aminu, Darius Miller and Lance Thomas at that spot, who barely combine for 12 points per night.
- The Hornets could have as many as eight players become free agents when the season ends in two weeks, including the entire small forward trio mentioned above, Reid writes. Aminu will become a free agent, along with Xavier Henry, Roger Mason and Louis Amundson. The Hornets must decide whether to extend team options to Miller, Thomas and backup point guard Brian Roberts. Per Reid, this has resulted in an environment where the current players are desperate to make an impression. While Reid doesn't mention him, Terrel Harris has a non-guaranteed deal next season and could also become a free agent.
Of the 17 players that competed during the 2002 NCAA title game between the Maryland Terrapins and the Indiana Hoosiers, three would go on to become first round picks during that year's NBA Draft: Chris Wilcox
(eighth overall), Jared Jeffries
(11th), and the championship game's leading scorer, Juan Dixon
(17th). Today, while Wilcox and Jeffries have guaranteed contracts, Dixon finds himself on the outside looking in, tirelessly determined to make a comeback. Connor Letourneau of The Diamondback
uncovers how Dixon's trying experiences as an international player contributed to his maturation process and what a return to the NBA would mean for the 34-year-old guard.
You'll find the rest of this evening's miscellaneous notes from around the league below:
- Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com thinks that the chances of the Kings remaining in Sacramento after this season (and possibly several more) continue to increase because of little movement in talks of going anywhere else. Without much momentum between the Maloofs and the potential destinations that have been mentioned (Anaheim, Seattle, Virginia Beach) nor anything that indicates a possibility that the team will be sold, Howard-Cooper writes that it bides more time for the city to find a way to keep the Kings for now.
- Eurohoops.net tweets that Panathinaikos of Greece has signed Jason Kapono.
- John Reid of NOLA.com reports that Matt Carroll has not yet reported to the Hornets since Tuesday's trade involving Hakim Warrick going to the Bobcats. Head coach Monty Williams says that there have been ongoing discussions between Carroll's agent and GM Dell Demps but did not elaborate on the specifics. The team hopes to give an update on the situation tomorrow.
- Yahoo's Marc J. Spears relayed a quote from today's press conference in which Mike D'Antoni said he'd like to get the Lakers to play "Showtime basketball."Arash Markazi of ESPN LA tweets that D'Antoni's coaching debut will likely be on Sunday against the Rockets.
- Nagging injuries have become a cause for uncertainty and concern for Heat superstar Dwyane Wade, writes Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel.
- Dan Bickley of AZCentral sports says (via Twitter) that Charles Barkley would be interested in becoming the Suns GM if owner Robert Sarver were to make such an opportunity available in the near future.
- The Raptors officially posted an injury update on their team website regarding Alan Anderson, Landry Fields, and Kyle Lowry. Anderson will remain out for another three to six weeks and Lowry for one to two weeks, according to the press release. There is no timetable set in place for Fields' return.
With news of Steve Nash's leg fracture keeping him out for another week, Dave McMenamin of ESPN Los Angeles thinks that this will be a good opportunity for Darius Morris to prove himself, noting that that his potential is what helped the Lakers decide to keep him over recently-cut guard Andrew Goudelock. McMenamin also cited Mike Brown's postgame comments last night about Morris, who also appeared to be encouraged about the second year point guard's ability to change the tempo of the game and apply good defensive pressure (Sulia link). Here are more of this evening's links out of the Western Conference:
- Dwain Price of the Star-Telegram writes that Troy Murphy's familiarity with Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle's system made the 6'11 forward an ideal fit with the team. Although Murphy is not yet in 'great' shape, Price says that he will be expected to help stretch the floor with his shooting ability.
- Darnell Mayberry of NewsOK shared a handful of notes from Thunder practice today, mentioning that Kendrick Perkins should be ready to play the Hawks on Sunday after spraining his ankle last night, discussing the growing confidence of Hasheem Thabeet amidst concerns about the team's depth at center, Serge Ibaka's early shooting struggles, and coach Scott Brooks' effort to get minutes for Jeremy Lamb, among other topics.
- Nick Gallo of NBA.com looks at the Thunder's emphasis on protecting the paint this season and how center Hasheem Thabeet can be used effectively in that role against bigger lineups.
- K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune tweeted that Hornets coach Monty Williams credits Knicks center Tyson Chandler for Anthony Davis' development during the London Olympics this past summer. Williams also weighed in on the league's concussion policy, addressing the notion that Davis could miss several games because of league protocol after suffering a mild concussion yesterday: "It's just that now you treat everybody like they have on white gloves and pink draws. It's just getting old, but it's just the way the league is now...I'm not saying I don't like it; we've got to protect our players...but as a coach I’m a baby about it. I want my guys ready to play.'' (John Reid of NOLA.com reports).
We've got a handful of links to share from New Orleans tonight, including several injury updates:
- Anthony Davis returned to practice Sunday after a groin injury sidelined him from Friday's pre-season game against the Rockets, says John Reid of NOLA.com. The Hornets forward appeared to move without limitations during post-up drills but was held out of contact work.
- In another article, Reid mentions that Eric Gordon has continued to rehabilitate his knee, and that Hornets coach Monty Williams hopes to be able to play him in limited minutes before the end of pre-season. Williams added that although he isn't exactly sure if Gordon will be ready between this week and the next, the fifth-year veteran has been participating in drills during practices.
- Both Jason Smith (sore back) and Xavier Henry (sore knee) have sat out the last three pre-season games, but Reid writes that both could be close to returning after taking part in practice today.
- According to Jim Eichenhofer of Hornets.com, one of Gordon's main goals for this season is to make the All-Star game.
- Brian Travis of Hornets.com gathered Al-Farouq Aminu's thoughts on his experiences during the offseason that included being a leader on the Nigerian Olympic basketball team during the summer games in London.
Marcus Thompson II of the Bay Area News Group summarized Warriors GM Bob Myers' meeting with the local media today, and writes that the team has very important decisions to make in the near future. Thompson mentions that Golden State has the ability to significantly be under the salary cap in two years, but will also have to deal with the possible contract extensions of Stephen Curry and Andrew Bogut in addition to deciding the futures of players that are still on their rookie-scale deals. "The players can stay as long as they want if we win...but if we don't win, maybe some things do get turned over," said Myers.
With that being said, we have a few more links to share with you tonight out of the Western Conference:
- Andrew Bogut is on schedule to play on opening night and possibly in some pre-season games, although the Australian center has not yet been cleared for five-on-five scrimmages yet, writes Rusty Simmons of SF Gate. GM Bob Myers also talked about Festus Ezeli, adding that he is a "team-first" guy who gives multiple efforts make him a quality prospect. Myers chose to remain neutral on Andris Biedrins not showing up for voluntary pre-training camp workouts, but added that he will have the opportunity to compete in camp and that his role will ultimately be left up to head coach Mark Jackson.
- Arash Markazi of ESPN Los Angeles thinks that the last three roster spots on the Lakers will ultimately be decided between Andrew Goudelock, Darius Morris, Darius Johnson-Odom, and Robert Sacre (Twitter link). In another tweet, Markazi says that Goudelock seems to be the odd man out at this point.
- Hornets rookie Anthony Davis spoke about what he took away from his experiences at the Olympics, teaming with Robin Lopez this season, and head coach Monty Williams' expectations (Jimmy Smith of the Times-Picayune reports).
- Aaron J. Lopez of Nuggets.com spoke with Nuggets assistant coach Melvin Hunt to evaluate Jordan Hamilton's rookie season and what he was told to work on this summer.
The Hornets and head coach Monty Williams agreed to a four-year contract extension over the weekend that will keep him in the Big Easy through 2016, writes John Reid of The Times Picayune. The 40-year-old former NBA forward enters his third season with New Orleans after enjoying success in his debut campaign and struggling last year in the wake of Chris Paul being traded to the Clippers. With a series of key moves through the draft, free agency and trades this offseason, Hornets executive Mickey Loomis expressed excitement about Williams' ability to develop the young pieces around him into a championship contender.
"He knows and we know that he’s here for the long term as we develop a young team into a championship contender," Loomis said. "I’ve been very impressed with Monty since we purchased the team."
The team should have no problem improving upon its 21-45 record from the 2011-12 season thanks to the addition of eight new players including Anthony Davis, Austin Rivers, Ryan Anderson and a healthy Eric Gordon, who missed most of last season due to injury. Time will tell how playing in the Olympics and spending time with world-class players has positively impacted Davis' development. With a new contract in place and a strong new ownership group, Williams' attention can be completely focused on getting the most out of his players on the basketball court.
"I’m aware of the work ahead of us, but that’s what we all want," Williams said. "But at the same time, to have Mickey and Mr. Benson step up to the plate and just say this is the guy we trust going forward, they will never know how that makes me and my family feel. That’s a pretty profound statement."
The Hornets have enjoyed good fortune off the court this spring after struggling through the 2011/2012 season with a 21-45 record. After finding a new owner in Tom Benson, New Orleans beat the odds by winning the NBA draft lottery last week which gives the team the opportunity to rebuild its roster with the top pick come June. Let's head down to the Big Easy to catch up on the latest news and headlines surrounding the Hornets...
- Hornets head coach Monty Williams and top prospect Anthony Davis have begun to forge a relationship as they may ultimately end up working together for years to come, writes Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports. Williams and Davis plan to eat dinner and watch the Eastern Conference Finals together on Thursday as the pair has grown close through texting. "I know they work hard every night under Coach," Davis said. "It’s a great place to play."
- John Reid of The Times Picayune says the Hornets are continuing to explore all possible options with their 10th pick as general manager Dell Demps talks with other teams about a potential trade. "Yes, we will if it makes sense,'' Demps said. "There’s been some teams that have put young guys around a top pick. Some of the other teams have put veterans around the pick. Some have been successful both ways. I think we’re just going to look at what is going to be the best for our situation.''
- While it's all but certain that Davis will be selected first overall by the Hornets, the former Kentucky star says it isn't guaranteed that New Orleans will pick him but is optimistic about his career, regardless of where he lands, reports the Associated Press (via NBA.com). "If I keep working hard, playing hard and doing what I have to do to make my team win - do what the coaches want me to do, do what the veterans want me to do - I think the sky's the limit," Davis said.
While Los Angeles residents may have loved to see a Clippers/Lakers Western Conference Final, it wasn't meant to be, given how strong the Spurs and Thunder look this season. As the L.A. clubs look to make roster improvements this summer to make another run in 2012/13, let's check in on the latest out of the city:
- A decision on Vinny Del Negro's job status will have to be made by next week, according to Marc Stein and Ramona Shelbourne of ESPN.com. The Clippers have until June 1st to decide whether or not to exercise the coach's option for next year, and the decision could rest largely in the hands of owner Donald Sterling. That's probably good news for Del Negro, given his positive relationship with Sterling.
- If Del Negro doesn't return, the Clippers may look to currently-employed coaches rather than the strong crop of free agent candidates. Two potential targets are Thunder coach Scott Brooks and Hornets coach Monty Williams, according to Stein and Shelbourne. However, Brooks is widely expected to re-up with Oklahoma City, and the Clips would have to get permission from New Orleans to talk to Williams, which is no sure thing.
- Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times proposes five potential roster moves for the Lakers. While the list includes the usual Andrew Bynum/Dwight Howard proposal, many of the other suggestions are new ones, such as trading for Al Harrington or Beno Udrih.