Archive for April, 2012

Hornets Name Change NOT Necessary
April 30, 2012

When Saints (and new Hornets owner) Tom Benson announced at his introductory media conference that he wanted to change the name of his new team to something more local…fans rejoiced.

Since the team relocated to New Orleans in 2002 many have longed for a more local name.

That said, I now think changing the name is a bad idea.

Look, I love the names that have been tossed out there: Krewe, Pelicans, Soul, Brass, Big Chiefs, Creoles, Spirit.

But keeping the name Hornets may work better for a number of reasons. 

1. The team has been in New Orleans 10 years…so the Hornets do have a history in our city.

2. NBA Commissioner David Stern is on record as saying that it will take at least one full season (possibly two) to apply for and be granted a name change.  Also, Stern does not seem in favor of the name change. 

3.  A 2/3 majority of NBA owners must approve a name change.

So, instead of changing the name….why not just rebrand with the colors of our city and the symbol of our city.  Commissioner Stern could probably make this happen ASAP. 

Everyone in New Orleans knows the colors of our city are black and gold and the symbol is the fleur de lis.   

The Hornets have worked hard to incorporate the fleur de bee as their logo and even the NBA and Adidas have tried to capitalize on the popularity of Saints black and gold (see jersey below).

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So my suggestion is keep the name Hornets…and change the colors to black and gold…also, make the official logo the fleur de bee.

(I found the below images while googling around)

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2012 Saints Mock Draft
April 20, 2012

This WSDU Mock Saints Draft was originally published: 2-8-12

Back then I had the Saints reaching for…an taking…Boise St. DT/DE Billy Winn in the 2nd round.

Because of the bounty hit scandal the Saints no longer have a 2nd round selection. 

So I’m dropping Winn to the 3rd round (where he is projected to go).

2012 Saints Mock Draft:

3rd Round:   

Billy Winn/Defensive Tackle-Defensive End/Boise State

6’3, 295 lbs.

WHY:  Winn is a versitile, super productive college player who can play both DT and DE.   

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4th Round: 

Ladarius Green, Tight End, Louisiana-Lafayette

WHY: With Dave Thomas’ future uncertain due to multiple concussions it would not hurt the Saints to draft another tight end.  Green can create mismatches and would add yet another weapon to the Payton/Brees arsenal.  The only problem, Green may not make it to the 4th round of this year’s draft.

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5th Round:

Isaiah Frey/Cornerback/Nevada

WHY: Frey has been super productive at Nevada and would add depth to a position group that may lose Tracy Porter to free agency.

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6th Round:

Tom Compton, OT, South Dakota

WHY: Compton is a a small school diamond-in-the-rough lineman who could eventually follow in the footsteps of other small-school finds like Jermon Bushrod and Jahri Evans. 

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7th Round (219th Overall Pick)  

Derek Moye/Wide Receiver/Penn State

6’4, 205 lbs.

WHY: Why not?  Another developmental wide receiver (who never got to use his skill set because of such poor QB play at Penn State) for offensive genius Sean Payton to work with.

6 Ways Hornets Can Improve Under New Owner Tom Benson
April 16, 2012

Since WDSU…Channel 6…is always on your side…here are 6 ways the Hornets can improve greatly:

1. Rebrand IMMEDIATELY!

  • Don’t wait!  Announce a new nickname and new colors ASAP!
  • The Colors should be black & gold.  This is not even worth a discussion.  If asked what our cities colors are…all fans will respond…black and gold!
  • Nickname could be: Pelicans, Krewe, Angels, Soul, Brass.  I know the Major League Baseball team in Anaheim has the nickname Angels…but I love Angels.  Tom Benson is a devout Catholic…he consulted the Archbishop of New Orleans before buying the Hornets from the NBA…and now can say he owns The Angels & The Saints.
  • No matter what the new name is, make the change ASAP so the new draft picks can hold up new jerseys on draft night and so the marketing people can start getting fans excited with new merchandise. 

2. Re-Sign Eric Gordon

  • Gordon has proven that when healthy he’s one of the best scoring guards in the NBA.  Tom Benson may have to match a max-contract offer from Cleveland or Indiana but Gordon needs to be in New Orleans. 

3. Draft Wisely

  • The Hornets will have two top-10 picks in this June’s draft.  I’m still not sold on Dell Demps being a great GM (see 2012 NBA trade deadline and failure to make any deals for Chris Kaman)…but it would be hard even for him to mess this up. As long as Demps stays away from Andre Drummond and Perry Jones III he should be good. 
  • Getting Anthony Davis (projected #1)  with the top selection or Thomas Robinson or Michael Kidd-Gilchrist second or third puts the Hornets in a great spot.  All three of those guys project as franchise cornerstone players who are WINNERS.  The second 1st round pick is projected to be #10 but with some luck in the lottery it could be as high as #5 or #6.  The 2012 draft is the deepest since 2003…so the Hornets will get two quality players in the top 10.   

4. Trade Trevor Ariza To Cleveland Cavaliers on draft night for Luke Walton, Pick #26 (1st round), Pick #35 (2nd round) in 2012 NBA Draft:

  • Ariza is still young enough and still good enough to bring back something in return.  Ariza has been shutdown for the rest of the season…he’s getting DNP’s so the team can learn more about Al-Farouq Aminu.  Byron Scott always wants to win immediately so he would probably love Ariza in his lineup and have no problem convincing management in Cleveland to part with two relatively low draft picks. 
  • The Hornets have to eat the final year of Luke Walton’s contract…but, to pickup two more picks in the top 35 it’s worth it.

5. Sign Goran Dragic

  • Demps scouted Dragic and had a part in drafting the Slovenian when Dell was with the Spurs.  Since getting a chance to start Dragic has shined for Houston and he becomes a unrestriced free agent this summer.  The Hornets tried to trade for Dragic once (failed Chris Paul deal in December) so he knows they want him.  Dragic will be in-demand this summer but the Hornets have money to spend.  Dragic will cost between $7-10 annually but he’d give the Hornets a great floor-leader who’s only 25 years old.   

6.   Sign Monty Williams To A Long-Term Contract

  • The youngest head coach in the NBA is also one of the best.  Despite being way out of playoff contention Monty’s team plays hard and grinds each and every night.  Williams is also one of the finest men you’ll ever meet.  

2012-2013 New Orleans NBA Franchise (nickname to be determined)

PG: Goran Dragic, Greivis Vasquez, Tomas Satoransky (pick #26 in ’12 draft)

SG: Eric Gordon, Jarrett Jack, Xavier Henry

SF: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (pick #3 in ’12 draft), Al-Farouq Aminu, Jae Crowder (pick #35 in ’12 draft)

PF: Jason Smith, Gustavo Ayon

C: Tyler Zeller (pick #10 in ’12 draft), Emeka Okafor   

*The team could use the amnesty provision on Okafor but keeping him and using him in a back-up role might work better than just letting him leave for nothing. Okafor is a classy, smart guy who might embrace a reduced role and the chance to build something special.  If the team pulled-off the Ariza/Cavs trade then Luke Walton will be the player getting amnesty. 

Team Salary: 13 players, 67.4 Million

  • The $67.4 million includes:
  • Max Contract ($18 million annually) for Eric Gordon
  • $9 million annually for Goran Dragic
  • Amnesty used on Luke Walton 

NEW OWNER OF THE NEW ORLEANS HORNETS: TOM BENSON (Originally Pusblished 2-15-12)
April 8, 2012

NEW OWNER OF THE NEW ORLEANS HORNETS: TOM BENSON

I believe that Saints owner Tom Benson has to become the next owner of the New Orleans Hornets. 

According to Joe Gerrity of the website hornets247.com Benson is one of the potential buyers working to acquire the NBA-owned franchise. 

Their is a provision prohibiting NFL owners from owning NBA teams in the same market…so to buy the Hornets Benson would have to petition the NFL for a special waiver (which he’d probably get)…or perhaps the team could be bought by a group led by Benson but with Rita Benson LeBlanc as the majority owner.  For the sake of this blog, let’s just work under the assumption that Benson can in some form or fashion purchase the Hornets.

One long-time, well respected sports journalist told me I was crazy for suggesting Benson buy the Hornets.  His reason…and it’s hard for me to argue with him: Before Sean Payton and Drew Brees arrived the Saints were looked at as a struggling, small market, dysfunctional mess.  Pre-Katrina (Payton/Brees) season ticket sales were at and all time low and fan apathy at an all-time high.  From ’03-’05 it seemed like every month we led a newscast with reports of the Saints moving to Los Angeles, San Antonio or Albuquerque.  My journalist friend joked with me that unless Sean Payton can coach/operate an NBA franchise than my idea of Benson owning the Hornets was borderline foolish.

While I see the logic of that arguement I disagree.

Tom Benson: The new owner of the New Orleans Hornets? I hope so.

I think Tom Benson owning the Hornets will provide tremendous stability to one of the NBA’s nomadic franchises.  Benson owning the Hornets also allows our cities NBA team to ride the wave of success the Saints have created.

Remember when Benson owned the Voodoo of the Arena Football League?  The Saints pushed tickets and suites for the Voodoo onto Saints fans and led the AFL in season ticket sales.  Benson also worked to bring two Arena Bowl games to New Orleans.

Since Hurricane Katrina Benson has worked hard to invest in New Orleans…buying and operating a local TV station, a production company and bringing Mercedes-Benz in as a sponsor for the Superdome.  He’s also agreed on a new long-term deal to keep the Saints in New Olreans which allowed the city to become the host of Super Bowl XLVII (New Orleans will also reportedly be bidding on Super Bowl L {50}).     

If Benson bought the Hornets he could work with the state of Louisiana on a new lease agreement, naming rights for the New Orleans Arena and he could move the Hornets headquarters into Benson Tower.  Benson may even be able to get funding from the state to turn the old Voodoo practice facility (located on the current Saints complex on Airline Drive) into a training complex for the Hornets.

A Tom Benson owned Hornets team could be re-branded with new colors (black and gold…just like all teams in Pittsburgh are black and yellow) allowing for cross-over marketing that would seem to work well in small market New Orleans.   

Imagine if you will a Hornets practice/scrimmage in Champions Square before a Saints home game.  Fans could meet the Hornets players at Saints training camp workouts.  Saints autograph sessions, charity events and free agent signings could be set-up at the New Orleans Arena to coincide with Hornets games in the spring. 

Owning both teams and having them work hand-in-hand to achieve individual success would be a story celebrated world wide and might lead to copy-cat endeavours from billionaire owners far and wide.

The Case For Austin Rivers
April 3, 2012

If the Hornets don’t land the #1 overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft this summer…if the franchise is picking 2nd-4th…they should select Duke University guard Austin Rivers!!!!!

We all know the #1 overall pick is going to be University of Kentucky freshman Anthony Davis.  Davis was AWESOME this season leading the Wildcats to a national championship and he is the clear-cut top pick.

While the 2012 draft is a deep draft…it’s hard to slot guys.  I know many experts like Kentucky’s Michael Kidd-Gilchrist 2nd overall…others Like Kansas power forward Thomas Robinson with the number-two choice. 

I like Austin Rivers!

To me, Kidd-Gilchrist is a nice player but not good enough to go 2nd overall and be the face of the Hornets franchise.  MKG is a glue guy…not a franchise savior.  Same goes for Robinson (who’s nowhere near his measurables of 6’9, 235).  I look at Kidd-Gilchrist and see Trevor Ariza and I look at Robinson and see the Morris twins or Brandon Bass.  All nice players…but not players who should be under consideration as the 2nd overall pick in the draft. 

I look at Austin Rivers and see Russell Westbrook and Stephen Curry!

When I look at Austin Rivers…I see a Star!

Some say Rivers is too selfish and not a true point guard…I disagree.  I want a confident leader like Rivers handling the ball and leading the team.   

When it comes to scoring the Hornets are ranked 29th in the NBA.  Is it me or would a backcourt of Austin Rivers and Eric Gordon alleviate a lot of those offensive issues? 

THEY WOULD!!!!

Rivers has a ton of swagger, would embrace being the centerpiece of a rebuild and he probably has a relationship with Monty Williams.  As an NBA player Monty played for Doc Rivers when Doc was coaching the Magic.  I bet Monty has a story or two of a young Austin Rivers being a gym rat kid that had talent even at a very young age.

So remember this blog…and remember that I am on record as saying that if the Hornets have the opportunity to draft Austin Rivers 2nd, 3rd or 4th overall and don’t…then the organization is making a mistake!

With their second pick in the 1st round (via Minnesota) of the 2012 NBA Draft (pick is projected to be between 9th-12th) the Hornets should select University of Illinois center Meyers Leonard.  I’ve been on Leonard all season and think he’s going to be a hot commodity for teams picking between 7th-14th.  

 

2012/2013 New Orleans Hornets

1. Austin Rivers (backup: Jarrett Jack)

2. Eric Gordon (backup: Xavier Henry)

3. Trevor Ariza (backup: Al-Farouq Aminu, Jae Crowder*)

4. Jason Smith (backup: Gustavo Ayon)

5. Meyers Leonard (backup: Gustavo Ayon & Free Agent X)

I know Smith and Leonard lack bulk but in my mind they can be a solid frontcourt due to the fact that together their athleticism would be better than most post players they face.  They are both super-athletic, can alter shots, can play up-tempo and would be fantastic in the pick-and-roll with Austin Rivers.     

Also, as much as I love Greivis Vasquez…if the Hornets pickup Austin Rivers and keep Jarrett Jack as a backup than perhaps Vasquez could be moved draft night for a 2nd round pick…and with a 2nd round pick the Hornets should select Big East player of the year Jae Crowder from Marquette.  Crowder is a grinder, a glue-guy type. 

You also may notice that Emeka Okafor is not on my roster, he’ll receive amnesty and I believe that both Chris Kaman and Carl Landry will bolt via free agency for greener pastures.