We all know that in the NBA things are at their darkest. Both the NBA Players and the NBA Owners are not talking to each other like a couple in all sorts of marital problems. It sucks that I have to bring it up time and time again, but it’s holding us back from one of the best sports and leagues in the world.
Moving on from that though, let’s reflect a little bit on the New Orleans Hornets. Yeah I know right, you almost have forgotten completely about them in the midst of all of the labour tension. But, fear not Swarm and Sting will keep you up to date.
The New Orleans Hornets look to be in a bit of a dour state to most outsiders. I hear things like, “Contract them, no one cares,” to “Give them to Seattle,” but not without “That city can’t even support one professional sports team!”
It’s no doubt to most of you outside NBA fans that are reading this that your preconceptions about the team are somewhat justifiable. However, if you would actually research into the matter you’ll find there are some things that are up-lifting about this team both on and off the court.
1. A New Local Ownership Group Is On Its Way
The biggest piece of news coming out of New Orleans is that the bidding for the Hornets is now open and an ownership group is poised to take over the reigns of the NBA. Gary Chouest and a contingent of minority owners (speculated to include the likes of local attorney Morris Bart and more) seemed ready to purchase the team.
A big issue for the Hornets was that before the NBA took over the team was borrowing money at an astonishing rate. Most NBA franchises have a billionaire as their owner, the Hornets had a guy whose net worth was less than 200 million dollars. George Shinn kept borrowing money to pay his players as well as sign big free-agent names. The debt was so bad that the NBA had to take over. No matter how much fan support or corporate sponsorships, the Hornets were in a bad way.
The NBA now has straightened out the books, pushed for more fan support, looked to expand more corporate sponsors, seek a new lease with the state and a new TV contract. These are all now right on their way to being completed as Local owners look poised to take over.
2. Strong Front-Office and Organisation
Dell Demps has come in and installed a San-Antonian Spurs-like front-office. Both he and Monty Williams have similar lines of thinking and are willing to be patient and seek the right opportunities both in roster moves as well as organisational ones. They’re not without help though. The support of Hugh Weber has been instrumental in pushing for more season ticket holders as well as supporting the New Orleans community. Jac Sperling has done a terrific job of steadying the ship and keeping things on task. Hopefully with a local ownership group in place much will remain the same.
Whether or not Chris Paul is on the roster, I have full faith that both Dell Demps and Monty Williams will transition the Hornets back to being a strong playoff team whether that be in 2 years or in 10.
3. A Flexible Roster
Putting aside Chris Paul at the moment the Hornets roster is actually quite young and athletic. But more than that it’s flexible. If the Hornets want to start over again they can do so easily. Let David West go, try to resign Carl Landry, use an amnesty on Emeka Okafor or Trevor Ariza and acquire as many draft picks as you can for Chris Paul.
From another angle the Hornets have the room to go out and bring in the talent necessary to help Chris Paul win a championship. They’d have to convince people to come to New Orleans, but with a new owner and more sellout crowds that might not be as difficult as once was.
4. A New Lease For the Long Term
Something that is essential for the Hornets in their quest to stay in New Orleans for the long term is a new long-term lease. The current lease has been somewhat of a thorn in the side of the operations, but a new one might be the cure.
Jac Sperling has stated that a new lease with the State of Louisiana will have no opt-out clauses or attendance benchmarks, which are thoroughly outdated. Putting the onus on the organisation to get the fans into the stands.
5. A Vision For The Future
I believe that long term the Hornets want to build for a championship. Doing it with Chris Paul will speed up the process, but I believe that Dell Demps and Monty Williams are both up to that task. If Chris Paul decides to leave, the Hornets have to restart and shift their plan. Either way they will be prepared for any scenario that comes at their door-step.
It sounds absurd to think that the Hornets could win a championship with Chris Paul, but with the strong organisational foundations that they already have, combined with a new strong and aggressive ownership there’s no telling how good this team could be.