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Sting this Thing: The New Orleans Hornets

In what has been a busy off-season for the New Orleans Hornets the organisation now has its direction. In previous columns and posts I have vehemently been pushing for an overhaul to the way business is conducted within the organisation. With the clueless and improvisational Jeff Bower gone, the Hornets looked to establish a foundation of smart, logical, clear-minded decision maker and they found one with Dell Demps.

Looking to appease Chris Paul in what was the Summer of Lebron, then Paul and then Anthony, Demps made his moves quietly and decisively. While some will be heavily scrutinized it’s imperative for the average fan to understand what Dell was trying to achieve.

Rather than mesh a bunch of talent together Demps was trying to work on the teams weaknesses, integrating the players with new head coach, Monty Williams’ system.

It’s not a simple case of saying one player is more talented than another it’s important to realize that Dell is trying to put together a team, not just for this year but for the one after it. It’s no good criticizing a move if we as outsiders don’t realize what the move was made for.

With that we’re going to breakdown this year’s New Orleans Hornets. From the specific offseason news to team issues on the court, most things will be covered.

So head over the jump to continue reading about your New Orleans Hornets.

Offseason Banter Gets Crazier By The Second

The very first thing people will talk about when the Hornets come to discussion is obviously Chris Paul. He’s been the face of the franchise pretty much since the team moved to the Bayou. With all the Lebron hype from the previous two years it was only fitting for ESPN to crave for more NBA shakeups. With that Chris Broussard of ESPN The Magazine interviewed Paul about his feelings about a trade possibility.

My first choice is to be in New Orleans. I just want to make sure we’re committed to winning. If we’re not committed to winning and trying to get better so we can contend with the Lakers, the Celtics and all these other top teams, then I’m open to being traded.  –Chris Paul

And with that all hell broke loose. With New Orleans trying to re-establish their team direction the national media saw it as a chance to move Chris Paul out of “The Big Easy” and into a bigger city market. The Saints had won the Superbowl so the Nation was collectively over the town. And with that the various rumors spewed from left right and center. Paul “apparently” demanded a trade and was looking to be on the move. But rather than quote team sources or any credible source for that matter. Disclosed, off-the-record sources were used as legitimate headliners.

In an off-season that had its fair share of drama, Dell Demps put his foot down and wanted to make sure that Chris realized the teams direction. For years it seemed the front-office and Paul were not in sync, this was a chance for them to do just that. Some will say that the initial meeting was all about “leverage,” but the truth is that if Paul really wanted out he would’ve requested a trade that very day. But rather than seek out, Paul wanted in. And with that the Hornets were in business.

A Trade Here A Trade There

Mr. Demps commenced work as soon as possible. Sure the previous regime had left him with a less than desirable draft as well as a less than desirable financial situation, but he managed pulling off the following moves.

Out: (PG) Collison (SF) Posey

In: Ariza

Out: (SF) Julian Wright

In: (SG) Marco Belinelli

Out: (PF) Darius Songaila (PF) Craig Brackins

In: (SG) Willie Green (PF/C) Jason Smith

Out: 2011/12 First Round Pick

In: (PG/SG) Jerryd Bayless

Other Additions: (C) D.J. Mbenga (PF) Pops Mensah-Bonsuh

That leaves us with only 6 returning faces to the team, that is why I firmly believe this is a boom-or-bust season for the team. What do I think of these additions? Well to be honest every single one of them is good because put simply it’s what the team needs in order to put together a team that is on the same page for now and the future.

If It’s About Defense Then How Come We Can’t Rebound The Ball?

If there was a team that could frustrate you more at the lack of rebounding, then I haven’t heard of it. The Hornets, since Tyson Chandler’s department, have been a woeful rebounding team. It doesn’t look like things are going to change either as they were ranked 25th in rebounding this preseason.

With an emphasis on defense the Hornets need to secure rebounds. If the team gets a stop they have to ensure they get the board and get out and run. But with Okafor as the only “above-average” rebounder at 6 foot 10 there is a huge fall off in production. It could be said that the next best efficient rebounder would be Chris Paul at a generous 6-foot tall.

Rebounding the ball is all about desire, if you want the ball go and get it. But you also have to understand where your opponents are and their positioning for the ball. It seems the Hornets for the past year have not understood that at all.

Chris Paul Returns And With Him Comes The Wins

After the Game 7 heartbreaking loss to the San Anotnio Spurs in 2008 Chris Paul had a taste of playoff success. He knew that it was only a matter of time before he was in the finals battling for his championship ring. Two years later rather than fulfilling his expectations, Paul and his team have regressed. Is it his fault alone? No not really. A slew of injuries have cost the team in certain seasons and this one is no different.

After injuring his knee and several other body parts last season, Paul returns to bring the Hornets a winning pedigree. Rather than be stuck with a bunch of veterans on their last legs, Chris has a group of young, enthusiastic players willing to listen and learn.

But rather than be full of optimism it’s probably safer and more shrewd to say that this team doesn’t possess the desire to win at all costs…just yet. It seems as if Paul is on another level as he said “I want to win, now” in a press-conference earlier in the offseason. But his team-mate and close friend David West has other motivations, “What do I play for? I don’t know,” West said. “I play for pride. I told somebody the other day I’ve been playing basketball competitively now for 22 years of my life. You’re not going to be able to play competitively at this level for a very long time. You’re not sure when it’s going to be over.”

Sure we can be knit-picky over here, but it’s just an example as to the difference in expectations. Paul wants to win now, while David is more relaxed and realistic.

I’m going to side with West. Sure with Paul in the lineup, healthy, the Hornets are a much better team. However this team just isn’t talented enough in both facets of the game to put it together for not only an 82 games season but 89 or even 96.

The Storm Over The Horizon

We need to remember that this really is a two year process. If the Hornets tread water, maybe make the playoffs and get knocked out in the first round they can still be patient and maybe then pull the trigger on some moves.

But the instant this team starts losing in a big way all hell will break loose, for a second time. To be honest that’s to be expected really. If the team doesn’t win why would CP want to stay or any other player for that matter? It’s all about patience. For us fans we’re going to have to bite several bullets this year as the media makes us cringe with their analysis’s and takes on the Hornets situation.

The bottom line is, if you win, everything will take care of itself.

I don’t really want to throw out a specific number of how many wins we’ll get but I think Hornets fans need to be constantly looking at the number 8 spot, looking at how many games we are behind (or in front). This season is all about the teams ability to gel. Road trips show this best so look for the West-Coast one (in Sacramento, LA etc) to be indicative of where this team is at.

So as the season begins on Wednesday let me leave you with this quote and make of it what you will.

“Great ambition is the passion of a great character. Those endowed with it may perform very good or very bad acts. It all depends on the principles which direct them.” –Napoleon Bonaparte, Emperor of the French

Tags: Aaron Gray Chris Paul D.J. Mbenga Darren Collison David West Dell Demps Emeka Okafor Hornets Preseason Jason Smith Marco Belinelli Marcus Thornton Monty Williams New Orleans Hornets Peja Stojakovic Sting This Thing The Williams Way Trevor Ariza Willie Green

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