Archive for March, 2012

How Faith Can Bring Jeremy Lin To New Orleans
March 20, 2012

A wise sports anchor once told me “stay away from public conversations regarding politics and religion…all those topics do is cause controversy.”

While I can’t disagree with the man who told me that…I am going to write about religion and how one players faith may lead him to New Orleans. 

Like all NBA fans I was captivated by Jeremy Lin when he burst onto the scene 6 weeks ago. 

(Sidebar: For the record, I had Jeremy Lin in a big Chris Paul/Hornets/Golden State Warriors trade I proposed on this blog last summer)

Lin-sanity was something special…but until the Harvard University alum became an international sensation I had no idea he was an evangelical Christian who one day hopes to become a pastor.

Upon learning this I instantly thought of Hornets head coach Monty Williams and the one-on-one interview I conducted with him the day he was hired.

Monty is a man of great faith.  He spoke very candidly about the heart issues he dealt with as a college player at Notre Dame and how his faith helped him heal.  In fact, Monty says, his faith literally healed him.

Sometimes you meet people who talk about being Christian but they don’t practice what they preach.  Listening to Jeremy Lin and those who know him best…it’s easy to see he is a person who’s pure and who has truly given himself to his faith.  Same goes for Monty. 

I bet if these two had the chance to have dinner they’d become very fast friends…they’d see similarities in one another that would allow them to forge a bond very few coaches have with players.  That being said, should the Hornets make a massive push to sign Lin to a massive contract when he becomes a restricted free agent this summer?

The answer is…YES!!!! 

Am I suggesting the team go after Lin this summer during free agency just because his religious beliefs seem to mirror the head coach of the team?  No.  I’m suggesting the Hornets sign Lin for a variety of reasons.  The team desperately needs someone to be the face of the franchise, Lin can easily be that guy.  I’m sure the new ownership group would love nothing more than to land an international star that instantly makes their investment relevant.  While Greivis Vasquez is a very nice player, he’s probably best suited as a combo guard off the bench…meaning the Hornets need a floor general to lead them as they rebuild…enter Jeremy Lin. 

Plus, with Mike D’Antoni out as the Knicks head coach and Mike Woodson in…Lin’s role may drastically change in NYC. (read this amazing Howard Beck Column for more insight into Lin’s future in New York: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/16/sports/basketball/for-the-knicks-linsanity-has-left-the-building.html?_r=1&ref=howardbeck)

So if Jeremy Lin decides to test the free agent waters this summer and if he finds that Monty Williams is a man he shares a connection with and if the two decide to embark on the amazing New Orleans rebuild together…will the Hornets have to overpay in a big way to keep the Knicks from matching an offer to Jeremy Lin?  YES!

Is giving Jeremy Lin a huge deal (Like 5 years, $40 million) smart for the New Orleans Hornets?  YES!!!!!

By adding Lin and 2 lottery picks this summer the Hornets become a team on the rise overnight.

Imagine if you will this opening night lineup next season:

1. Jeremy Lin (signed as free agent)

2. Eric Gordon (re-signed longterm as a restricted free agent)

3. Harrison Barnes (2nd overall pick in 2012 NBA draft)

4. Gustvo Ayon/Jason Smith

5. Jared Sullinger (11th overall pick {from Minnesota} in 2012 NBA draft)

Coming off the bench: Jarrett Jack, Greivis Vasquez, Trevor Ariza, Al-Farouq Aminu, Jason Smith/Gustavo Ayon (no, Emeka Okafor is not on this team, I believe the Hornets use the amnesty provision on him) 

For all its debauchery, New Orleans is still a deeply religious town…and fans are still “in” when it comes to the Hornets…so many are praying for the franchise.  Hopefully prayers will be answered this summer and Jeremy Lin will take a chance and head down to the Big Easy to do for a down and out  basketball team what Drew Brees did for a down and out football team 6 years ago.

Dell Demps: A Study In Contradiction
March 19, 2012

Plain and simple, the Hornets (from a basketball operations stand point) lack vision.

Some say the blame for moves that are best described as buffoonish falls on the NBA (the teams current owner)…others on general manager Dell Demps!

I’m not sure who gets the blame…all I know is that this organization is so lost right now it defies belief…but since its Dell Demps falling on the sword and taking responsibility for all the teams basketball related maneuvers…we’ll direct this blog towards him!

Lets Breakdown Just One Bit of FOOLISHNESS:

DEMPS (Last Thursday after the NBA trade deadline passed and the Hornets failed to trade Chris Kaman):                                                                                                                                                                                                      “I wouldn’t rule out anything, we’re interested in talking with Chris Kaman this summer about a new contract…but what I’m really excited about are our two draft picks this summer.”

Really?

What crazy, contradictory quotes!!!

Excited about Kaman and draft picks?   Kaman should excite a veteran team capable of winning immediately…lottery draft picks excite a team building a new foundation for the future.

Does anyone believe the two can truly coexist?

Make no mistake, Kaman is playing only for his next (and final) big contract.  Kaman is not a legitimate part of the Hornets rebuild moving forward, so why not move him at the trade deadline?  Why not buyout his contract right now?

Look, no one in the NBA wants to use the word “tank” but teams throw in the towel at a certain point and play for the future.  As I write this the Hornets are 11-34 overall.  They have the 3rd worst record in the league and if it weren’t for the strong play of Chris Kaman they may have the worst record.

So why keep playing Kaman?  Back in January the team sent Kaman away…the Hornets said in a statement they were working to trade the 7-footer and wanted to play younger players.

Kaman, a soon-to-be free agent, was brought back when a deal could not be reached.

So, in about 6 weeks, Kaman goes from banished player with no future as a Hornet to a 35-minute-a-night starter that you now want back….HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE???????

The Hornets have 22 games remaining this season and the only thing Kaman is going to do is help the team win meaningless games and help himself get a big contract from another team this summer.

Kaman should have been dealt at the trade deadline!!!  Even if all the Hornets got for him was a 2nd round draft pick and other expiring contracts.  I hate when people tell me 2nd round picks are garbage…that’s a bunch of bull!  Trevor Ariza, Carl Landry, Marcus Thornton, Brandon Bass, Glen Davis…all 2nd round picks fans in Louisiana are familiar with.

Keeping Kaman seems to be in direct conflict with “being excited” about the draft.

I asked Dell point-blank the other night, “doesn’t keeping Kaman in essence hurt your draft position if he keeps playing well and helping to win games?”

Dell’s answer, “I don’t think like that.”

YOU SHOULD!!!!  Because other teams do.  Golden State is talking about shutting down Steph Curry who’s been nursing a bum ankle and keeping newly acquired Andrew Bogut sidelined (he’s also rehabing an injury).  The reason, the Warriors keep their 2012 1st round draft pick only if it falls between 1-7…..they lose the pick to Utah if it falls after #7.  The Warriors realize they are not a championship team this year…so they are considering…say it with me…TANKING (or if you want to be classy about it…building for the future)!!!

The future for the Hornets is Eric Gordon and the two lottery picks (as well as Ayon, Vasquez and even Jason Smith). 

After listening to Dell’s answers about Kaman I felt sick…then I think I threw up in my mouth when he said he was planning on bringing Eric Gordon back as soon as possible.

WHAT???????

If Gordon, as expected, returns to the court and starts scoring 20 a night and Kaman keeps playing hard the Hornets could go on a season-ending winning streak and really ruin the draft!  Forget Anthony Davis at #1, Thomas Robinson at #2 or Kidd-Gilchrist, Harrison Barnes or Jared Sullinger at #3!

Like Kaman, Gordon coming back is for purely selfish reasons.  While I believe the Hornets will match any offer Gordon receives as a restricted free agent this summer…EG coming back this season would only be to show other NBA teams he’s healthy and that they should try to sign him as a restricted free agent.  EG’s other motivation for coming back during this forgettable season is so he can start getting warmed-up for his Team USA tryout this summer.  Those are not reasons that benefit the Hornets.  Gordon passed on the massive contract the Hornets were offering him…so in my mind, he loses all opportunities to come back this season.  Tell him to shut his knee down and get ready for 2012-2013.  Or better yet, if he wants to play, send him to the D-League and let him rehab there for the rest of the season.

I should have asked Dell the following: Why would a respectable GM allow two players to take the court when their motivation is simply for selfish reasons and not team?

Hopefully this ugly duckling of a franchise will one day grow into something beautiful…but right now those responsible for nurturing it’s growth are turning out to be poor parents.

AP Top 25, All-America Teams, My Final Four
March 12, 2012

I’m an Associated Press college basketball voter…below is my final Top 25 poll as well as All-America Team honors. 
 
I also added in my Final Four prediction.
 
———————————————————————————————–
AP Top 25 For 3-12-12
 
1. Kentucky
2. Syracuse
3. Missouri
4. Michigan State
5. Kansas
6. North Carolina
7. Ohio State
8. Duke
9. Murray State
10. Florida State
11. Marquette
12. Wisconsin
13. Georgetown
14. Baylor
15. Indiana
16. Michigan
17. Creighton
18. Vanderbilt
19. St. Mary’s
20. San Diego State
21. UNLV
22. Wichita State 
23. Temple
24. VCU
25. Long Beach State
 
1st Team All-America
Thomas Robinson-Kansas
Anthony Davis-Kentucky
Draymond Green-Michigan State
Doug McDermott-Creighton
Isaiah Canaan-Murray State
 
2nd Team All-America
Damian Lillard-Weber State
Marcus Denmon-Missouri
Jae Crowder-Marquette
Jared Sullinger-Ohio State
Tyler Zeller-North Carolina
 
3rd Team All-America
Scott Machado-Iona
John Jenkins-Vanderbilt
Tyshawn Taylor-Kansas
Harrison Barnes-North Carolina
Andrew Nicholson-St. Bonaventure
 
 
Coach of the Year:
Tom Izzo-Michigan State
 
Player of the Year:
Anthony Davis-Kentucky
 
My Bracket (2012 Final Four In NOLA):
Kentucky
Florida State
Missouri
Temple