Friday, February 29, 2008

The CP3 Widget

Just search "CP3" or "widget" on the blog to get a quick view at his stats. And, of course, the team widget is always at the bottom.

Also, I need to clear up a few mistakes from the last post before tonight's game against Utah. I apparently lack the ability to read numbers of any kind, as CP3's actual stats versus the D.Will and the Jazz are as follows:

Paul has also struggled in his career against Utah, averaging just 13.8 points and 8.1 assists and shooting 37.9 percent in eight career games, as New Orleans has gone 1-7. He struggled with foul trouble and had just six points and six assists in a 110-88 loss in Salt Lake City on Feb. 4, the Hornets' fourth straight loss to the Jazz - all by double digits.

Special thanks to for clearing that up. So, that looks pretty bleak from Paul's standpoint, but there is hope yet. It's been awhile since the Jazz have played a good Hornets team in the city of New Orleans and (again, thanks to The Hornets are 29-8 this season when [Paul] has at least 10 assists.

Alright, enough talk. Let's do this.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Air Jordan: CP

It's official. CP3 has his own shoe now. It's designed to reflect CP3's love of basketball and bowling (apparently he and JuJu light up the lanes in their spare time). It's set to be released on March first and will retail for $115. Not bad, but I think I'll ebay it before I drop into footlocker. Actually, I'll probably pass. I'm sure there's a rule somewhere about being an adult and being white and not being allowed to purchase the shoe of your favorite player. Of course, when they release the teal and purple version, all bets are off.

(This pic came from the official Air Jordan site.)

Get ready, folks. He's coming... he's coming... he's coming...

Buzzer-beaters and the Shaq Attack (ish)

Washington 95 | New Orleans 92
New Orleans 120 | Phoenix 103
[league standings]

I've been to major sporting events all my life. I've managed to attend multiple games in just about every professional sport (except for hockey... one was all I needed). And in that time, I've never seen a game go to extra innings, a shootout, sudden death, or over time. I'd never seen a walk-off, or any other game-winning play... until Wednesday night.

You spend your whole life as a sports fan waiting for the amazing to happen. This is partially because you want to be able to say, "I saw Secretariat smoke everyone and their mom at the Belmont". You want to be a part of the history you are witnessing. This year's Super Bowl was an excellent example of this phenomenon. And it was particularly special because it was win-win: you were either going to tell your kids that you witnessed a perfect season or that you watched a perfect season completely unravel on the national stage with the finish line in sight. Either way, it was going to be epic.

DeShawn Stevenson is not epic. He isn't even close. In fact, in my 14 team fantasy league, I drafted him in the 15th (and final round). This means that according to the fantasy world (which doesn't really measure defense all that well and is characterized by the name "fantasy"), you would pick 196 players before considering DeShawn Stevenson. But none of that mattered on the court. Stevenson drain 33 points against us, including the nail in the coffin with no time on the clock. And with that, the Caron-less, Gilbert-less Wizards walked out of the New Orleans arena with "W". We had a sizable lead until the fourth quarter, when pissed it away. Was it the 16 turnovers? Was it the 50% from the stripe? Who knows. Had Stevenson been Kobe or LeBron, it might have been less depressing, but with Stevenson I'm left with only bitterness.

Never mind that the Washington game was the "easy" game during a nearly impossible two-week stretch... and marked our third loss in a row... Let's move on.


Hooray, Lee is happy again! With the win, the Hornets moved to 4-0 vs. the Suns this season. In fact, my devoted readers will remember an earlier post when I mentioned that the Hornets went 0-12 vs. Dallas, San Antonio, and Phoenix last season. Well, the mark is now 7-3, with one a piece left for San Antonio and Dallas.

CP3 put up major numbers again: 25 points, 15 assists, 6 rebounds, 3 steals. On the other side of the coin, Nash was his usual self in the passing game (13 assists), but only went 1 for 6 from the field (finishing with 8 points after free-throws). For anyone who's interested, here's how the 2 have matched up for the 4 games(per game):

Paul: 29 points, 11.25 assists, 4.5 rebounds, 4 steals, 1 turnovers
Nash: 18 points, 10.75 assists, 2.5 rebounds, .5 steals, 5 turnovers

I don't have to do any detective work to prove that both guards put up excellent numbers in these games, but Paul clearly dominated statistically. The steals and the turnovers sum that up extremely well (and that's before considering points). Just for fun, let's compare assists/turnover ratio from those four games:

Paul: 11.25
Nash: 4.3

This is not an effort to dethrone Nash as a great point guard. He is one of my favorite players and, despite his age, one of the best point guards in the league, if not the best. Paul may be slowly stealing that title (along with Deron Williams, who we'll discuss later), but Nash is still nothing short of phenomenal. What these numbers actually show is how ineffective the Suns have been at locking down CP3. The fact is Nash cannot guard Paul, so they slide him over to the 2 to cover Peterson (who rarely drives and mostly just spreads the floor). Bell then has the task of stopping Paul. So the Suns have to alter their defensive approach and, so far, they haven't been able to make it work against us. I imagine they run a similar defense against San Antonio, since Nash is mostly useless on Parker, but I'm forgetting what those games looked like (probably for the better after last post-season). And for any naysayers who think that the Suns will eventually adjust and shut down the Hornets, my buddy Nat has the solution: Byron just puts Bonzi in at the 2. His physical play would be too much for Nash to contain and they'd have to keep Bell on him. So who guards Paul? If the answer is Barbosa, think again. He may be quick, but in 27 minutes Barbosa managed to foul out by repeatedly attempting to draw fouls from CP3. You could try to keep Nash on the jump shooters by swinging him to the 3 and letting Hill cover Bonzi and leave on Paul, but now you have Peja with an 10 inch advantage shooting over Nash's head all night.

I would now invite you to take a break from this entry and read Sam's comments as proves me wrong on everything I just wrote.


Let's skip forward for a minute and talk about playoffs. Yes, playoffs. It's early and the West is still wide open, but it isn't too early to start thinking about potential match-ups. It isn't actually important for me at all. It's important for our coaching staff. Here's why: we match up well against 6 of the 10 potential playoff teams, we match-up so-so against 1 team, and I am terrified of the other 3. What does this mean? It means, even if we have a playoff spot locked up, we might still be pushing hard at the end of the season to force a more advantageous seeding for ourselves. Ordinarily this is an easy task; you win more games, you play a lower seed, and a lower seed is easier. Not this year. Golden State is lurking about the 7 seed, and while I think we match-up with them so-so, I don't want to be anywhere near them (until I have to) in the playoffs. I'd much rather drop a few games, rest Paul and West, and end up playing Dallas or Phoenix in round 1. Let's take a look at my comfort level with match-ups in the playoffs on a scale of 1 to 100 with 1 being the most terrified:

1. Lakers
2. Jazz
3. Spurs
7. Warriors
12. Dallas
13. Houston
14. Phoenix
70. Denver
82. Portland
180. Sacramento

I know, I know. Sacramento doesn't have prayer, but they technically are still in the race. It isn't impossible yet (but I'm sure it will be soon).

So while we match-up well against teams like Phoenix and Dallas, I don't even want to consider having to play any of the teams on top of that list in the first round. Our boys (individually and collectively) have no playoff experience outside of Peja, and while that didn't stop the Warriors last season, I think we're going to need to ease our way into this battle the best we can. The problem is that the seeding changes almost every day because the West is so close. Whew, I'm getting antsy just writing this...

None of this even takes into account that the Yao-less Rockets ascend to Tiki-theory-like status and hone a version of small ball that devastates everyone and their mothers. Think about it. Carl Landry and Luis Scola in the post, and Battier, McGrady, and Alston to run fast breaks and spread the floor. It's preposterous and highly unlikely, but it could totally happen. Especially now that Yao and his "Even though it' a fast-break, I'll just wait for you guys when you get back on defense appoach".


So, what happens next, you say? We avoid getting our tails handed to us on national television by none other than the Utah Jazz. D.Will and CP3 are going to go head-to-head in front of the whole country... nay... the WORLD. Seriously, everyone should tune in... it's going to be a hell of a game. For what it's worth, Chris is destroying Deron in terms of statistics; however, in head-to-head match-ups, the Jazz own the Hornets at 7-2 with these two guys at the helm[s]. I sincerely believe tomorrow will make or break Paul's run at the MVP title...

Oh Lord, do not forsake us now...

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Holy Yao, the Rockets are on fire!

Houston 100 | New Orleans 80
[league standings]

The big victory over Dallas marked the beginning of a virtually insane schedule for the next few weeks. Consider this: after the All-Star break (but before March) we play six straight playoff-bound teams. Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, Washington, Phoenix, Utah. Boom. (Ouch is a better descriptor). The good news? If the Hornets continue playing as well as they have all season, they have a legit chance of sweeping (or almost sweeping) that set. The only problem is that we can't afford an off night. Actually, at this point, no team in the West can afford one. Regardless, the win against the "revamped" Mavs was a strong statement that would hopefully provide some steam to keep the ball rolling through the hellish eleven days that laid ahead. Even though we were on a four game winning streak heading into the break, the bulk of those were fairly ugly wins against sub-par teams.

I'm not trying to sound all gloom and doom because I know we have a great squad, but the truth is we had been playing sloppily before the break. Now, the league has given us an opportunity to make up for that stretch and prove our worth with a difficult lineup.

So what happened in the Houston game? Well, not much by most counts. We appeared to be sleeping as they coasted to their 11th straight. Despite being our third sellout (that Yao sure can draw a crowd), the Hornets faired poorly and lost by a much larger margin than they're used to. Where did it all go wrong. For starters, Houston shot the lights out, draining 50% of their shots to our 40%. We had a remarkable inability to rebound anything and finished with 38 to their 55. The real problem here is that none of our jump shooters showed up. Peja and Mo were MIA (Mo's been like that lately). And Pargo couldn't pick up any slack. Usually when Pargo struggles, Byron shifts control to Bobby Jackson; however Bobby's absence (and the fact that Wells and James showed up, but weren't dressed) forced Byron to try other (futile) tactics.

David was about the only person who matched his averages. CP3 was close to his nightly contributions, but the presence of Yao in the lane thwarted his typical drives to the bucket. You could tell he was hesitating at thought of tossing one of his signature shots over a guy who dwarfs Tyson (dwarf is a strong word as only 6 inches separate the two, but still Tyson soaking wet might equal half of Yao's weight). Interestingly enough, Byron put JuJu in with seven minutes to play, and he promptly dropped 10 points. Granted, he was playing against mostly scrubs towards the end, but some of those came against TMac.

You win some, you lose some. We were outplayed and that's the bottom line. We couldn't have hit sand if we'd fallen from a camel. But am I worried? No. We still have a very talented squad and I sincerely believe that the new members of the team will make a positive impact... even if it's an expensive one. There are good things in store for this team... and I couldn't be more excited about it.


Before the game, I had the opportunity to meet none other than Melvin Ely. Admit it, you are all jealous. He's a man of few words, but he does have a sense of humor... or maybe he just laughed at my jokes because he wanted to get out of there quicker... hmmm...

Melvin and Lee say, "Drink 7up... forever."


One final thought before I leave you. I was going through some old podcasts and found a PTI one from February 8 where they did their "5 Good Minutes" segment with CP3. He is quite mature for his age. He didn't boast and he was very thoughtful in his answers. He's very aware of his role and what he can affect and control. This is a good thing. He also thinks the post-blockbuster Suns might be a bigger challenge than the post-grand-theft-Spaniard Lakers. Only time will tell.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Holy Crap, All-Stars everywhere, pt. 3

Holy Crap! There's a pt. 3?! You betcha. As an added bonus to my devoted readers, I've decided to post some extra photos from the weekend as well as one from the "Casino Night" that the Hornets' hosted this evening for their season ticket holders. The event itself was fantastic. We got meet most of the of the players, chat with the team president, and they had these hors d'oeuvre things that were ostensibly an oyster shot (for those curious about the recipe, you place a small amount of cocktail sauce in a glass, drop in a fresh Louisiana oyster, and garnish with a lemon... I love this city).

Particular points of interest:

1. David West took a picture with us. We are such dorks.

2. We told Ryan Bowen that we wanted to sign his petition to get a "hustle" event at next year's All-Star game. Contrary to what that sounds like, Bowen apparently (jokingly) wanted to start a petition for an event to be added to the Saturday agenda that would feature players scrambling to save balls from going out of bounds. He was actually a pretty funny guy. Not to mention he's totally living the dream: he gets to play basketball for a living (with CP3) all because he has (I hate this word) "heart". Un-be-freakin'-lievable.

3. We asked JuJu and Hilt on the way out if they wanted a ride (they were waiting in the valet line). Hilton, who thought we were serious, very politely declined. JuJu thought this was hysterical (especially after Curry offered him shotgun).

Ok, on to the pictures.


Lee hearts KG.

Curry blocks CP3 (I can't believe we got this one to work).

Curry manages to photograph the tip-off. The NBA: Where 37 pictures before half-time happens.

It's David West! It's David West! He was an All-Star! I'm not a dork!


Thanks for stopping by. Stay tuned this weekend for coverage of the home game against Houston featuring the sort-of anticipated arrival of Bonzi Wells and Mike James.

Trade Deadline & the Return of J. Kidd to the Wild West

New Orleans 104 | Dallas 93

Wednesday night in the Hive hosted the arrival of Dallas' Golden Calf: Jason Kidd. Supposedly, Cuban has been after Kidd since the Mavs went rigor mortis (the first time) and lost to the Heat in the 05-06 finals. Well Mr. Cuban, your prize has arrived. You traded your only defensive player worth anything in the post and an up-and-coming star at the point for it, but I'm sure it was worth it. Actually, that last statement highlights the lows and highs of this deal. Devin Harris, as good as he was (or could be), was not among the elite in the West, and while he does an excellent job on the fast-play-makers ( CP3 and Tony Parker), he has trouble running an offense that develops slowly and revolves mostly around isolations. He's a great player, but it's hard to play like a true point guard in that system. Also, the move to the East should help his development since he'll be among the upper tier of point guards with Billups and... well, Billups for sure. Calderon can come, too. So... Jason Kidd adds excellent passing ability (to a team totally devoid of it) and an intangible known as experience. Acquiring Kidd for Harris was good. Losing Diop in the process will hurt them because Dampier is washed up and the lack of imposing big men will force Dirk to play harder and more like the seven-footer he is... of course, Dirk hates this idea (not that he could play harder if he wanted to). So, Dallas becomes a small team. They got a little faster in the process, but ultimately, I don't think this is the solution to the present (and certainly not to the future).

So, the game. CP3 played out of his mind (I'll repeat his stats because they bear repeating: 31 points, 11 assists, 5 rebounds, and 9 steals). He set the franchise record for steals in a half (7) and was only 2 shy of the NBA record of 11. Every time he touched the ball in the fourth quarter a MVP chant would break out. They started out low, but eventually the whole stadium was belting it out at the top of their lungs (unintentional comedy moment: the moment these chants reached their loudest was after a offensive rebound and put-back by Paul... but Uncle Bowen had been fouled on the first shot... so, as the roof is about to fly off due the chanting, we have Ryan Bowen trying to take free-throws... I would have loved for Sir Charles to walk in at that moment [thinking the chants were for Bowen] just to hear his reaction).

The Mavs actually played pretty sloppy for most of the night. You could tell Kidd wasn't quite in sync with them yet: he passed out of bounds a lot and managed to facilitate most of CP3's steals. Nevertheless, he put up an 8,5,6 night with 3 steals so Mavs fans should take solace in knowing he hustled and that those first three numbers are only going to increase. In fact, by trading Diop, Cuban may have accidentally ensured that Kidd continues his triple-double reign.

Additionally, Peja and D. West contributed 18 a piece, Bobby Jackson knocked down 17 from the bench.Actually, he shot from the court, but... I'm not even going to finish that joke. All in all, we had a solid night against a slightly off-kilter team, who happens to be a major contender from our division. Sweetness.


Welcome to the show, Jeff Bower. About midday, the Hornets released a statement verifying the rumors that had been flying all morning about a three-way trade with Houston and Memphis. The trade looks something like this:

HOU to NO: Mike Jackson (2 years, $13 million), Bonzi Wells (expiring, $2.3 million)

HOU to MEM: Draft rights to Malik Badiane, cash considerations

NO to HOU: Bobby Jackson (1 year, $6.1 million)

NO to MEM: Marcus Vinicius (expiring, $700,000)

MEM to HOU: Draft rights to Sergei Lishchuk

So, what does this mean for the Hornets? Well, for starters, it means adding to veteran scorers who should provide a pretty good boost from the bench (alongside Pargo, Ely, and Armstrong). Jackson has fallen off the map lately (and that contract seems unnecessarily large), but hopefully Byron can reign him in. Speaking of reigning in players, Bonzi Wells is certainly the Wild Card in this equation. Byron and Paul are stern enough in their resolve to win; if they can get Bonzi to learn and accept his role, we should be golden. Wells will also clear a little more cap space for us this summer when we re-sign Paul. It isn't much (because he'll no doubt pull a max deal), but every little bit helps. Honestly, we won't have any clue until we see them play in our system. Oddly enough, the first time we'll have the chance to see that will be Friday's hosting of... the Rockets. Strange.

Well, here's to hoping that Bower knows what he's doing... (I think he does, in case anyone cares).

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Holy Crap, All-Stars everywhere, pt. 2

Saturday. On a somewhat serendipitous whim, Curry and I decided to head to the quarter for lunch with a friend (who has the misfortune of working Saturdays). On our walk through downtown, we noticed a surprising amount of people in the streets. The count was nowhere near Mardi Gras numbers, but it was substantial enough to take note of. As we walked past the Sheraton on Canal, who should emerge right in front of us? If you guess Jamario Moon you'd be right. I immediately told him hi and good luck (for the dunk competition) and Curry chimed in about his performance the night before. Not a twenty seconds later (as we cross Canal), Deron Williams passes us by chatting away on his cell phone. At this point, we're flabbergasted. I'm not usually around celebrities (but I do hold my own fine when I am... and I am also aware that Jamario Moon isn't exactly a celebrity), but walking past two fairly well-known players in the span of a minute was pretty cool... even after a night of being in the same building (and sometimes at close distances) to other players, past and present. After lunch we managed to run into Hilton Armstrong (Curry awkwardly high-fived his fist) and I saw Gerald Green cruise by in (no doubt, rented) Explorer. Not a bad run. (I use parentheses too much.)

The next logical step was an afternoon at the levee drinking a gallon of daiquiris. It was great prep time for an evening of beer and All-Star competitions. The individual events themselves were mostly meaningless, but (of course) I do have a few reactions:

1. I hate the Haier shootout thing. Let's agree never to talk about this waste of my life again.

2. D. Wade must feel pretty embarrassed after committing a turnover against a faceless cardboard cutout and then missing multiple layups. This was all made worse by the fact that he's the Skills Competition champ 2 years running.

3. Even though he was eliminated in the first round of the 3-point shootout, Peja hit more buckets than Rip, and that's all I care about.

4. The birthday cake dunk was amazing. The Superman dunk was also amazing, but would have been better had Dwight dunked the ball instead of throwing it in. Jamario Moon's second dunk would have been the most amazing had he practiced it once before attempting it in the competition.

Done and done. Let's move on to Sunday.


Sunday. All-Star day. I had gotten a call the previous day with news that my Dad's buddy had extra tickets for the game and my father and I were next in line. A call Sunday confirmed this (as well as an extra ticket for Curry). I now had a $300 pass to a star-studded, music-filled, skills exhibition. I was officially pumped.

Arriving at the stadium, we grabbed beer and made the trek to our upper-upper level seats. Did I care about such "terrible" seats? Not one iota. When the festivities finally did start, I was screaming like a five year-old. After watching the East get introduced, Kermit Ruffins, a local trumpet legend, swaggered out with his trumpet and played a classic New Orleans tune. (I actually talked with him in a bar the previous week [between sets] but that's another story.) His appearance -- and the subsequent appearance of the West's team -- completely ignited the crowd. First player to be introduced? CP3, ladies and gentlemen. The roof on the arena about blew off when he was announced. In fact, I have zero recollection of the next person introduced because everyone was still yelling. A faint "MVP" chant could even be heard amongst the screaming. Of course, D. West got plenty of props, too.

Smiling faces from as high as 10 feet above sea level.

Fast forward to the game. The first quarter sucked. Yao kept getting posterized (he's softer than me, I think), AI kept passing to his old conference, both teams played sloppy, and the East went up by a gazillion. Second quarter. The West cut the lead to 2 thanks to the remarkable tag-team of CP3 and Brandon Roy. It was at this moment, Curry and I decided to drive to Portland under the cover of night, steal Brandon, and leave a bag of weed and a plate of cookies in his stead... and Rasual Butler.

Halftime. 10 pianos and a jazz ensemble. I love this town. Appearances by Dr. John, Allen Toussaint, Art Neville, Harry Connick, Jr., etc. etc. It was fantastic and surreal all at once. I'm pretty sure I'll never be in the same building with as many famous people in my life...

Third quarter. The score stays close; however, the East do go on a run after some sloppy plays by the West. They then record 3 of the most amazing ally-oops I've seen in a long time, including one that changed hands 3 or 4 times before Dwight Howard posterized Yao. On a side note, Yao attempted not 1, but 2 threes... whaaaat? Whose idea was that? He's got good range, but he's not wearing a four-thousand dollar suit... COME ON! Fourth quarter. The first lead change occurs and it looks like CP3 might actually lead the West to a victory (he finished with 16 points, 14 assists). He Roy continue to light it up on both ends of the court. BUT, for whatever reason, Byron leaves Dirk in the game forever which inevitably leads to the 2 plays that clinch the game for the East. 1) D. Wade blocks a Dirk 3 that would have tied the game with less than a minute to go, 2) Dirk (and 3 other members of the West) get posterized by LeBron in (mark my words) the most amazing dunk ever. Forget Superman, LeBron owns this league. At least he will, when Kobe loses his pinkie.

Cool view from the arena... betcha didn't know KG was that tall in person.

And that was it. It was an unbelievably wild ride and it couldn't have happened to this city at a better time. Simmons, Adande, and Hollinger wrote great articles about both the game and the city... and I think everyone's on board. New Orleans is back. It's got a long way to go, but for all intents and purposes, she lives on. And what a way to celebrate it.


Quick follow-up on Sam's most recent comment. I agree with you that Ben Gordon is not a slasher. I foolishly lumped him into the aforementioned category because he has good range, he can drive to the bucket if he has to, and he draws a decent amount of fouls (just under 5 free-throw attempts per game). Given my close following of the Hornets' stats (remember: last in the league in free-throws attempted), anyone who fits Gordon's stat description sounds like a slasher. But alas, it was false. I would still stand by the trade if it were to occur, although the outlook appears bleak.

At any rate, I'll cover the Dallas game tomorrow (before Friday's hosting of Houston). With any luck, I'll be discussing the addition of our new player that will make us reign supreme in awesometown. Until then, ladies and gents, I only have one thing to say: CP34MVP!!!


Just so you know, CP3 went for 31 points, 11 assists, 5 rebounds, and 9 steals against Dallas (and J. Kidd) tonight. Just thought I'd whet your appetite. Peace.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Holy Crap! All-Stars everywhere, pt. 1

Greetings from All-Star land. This city has been buzzing for the last few days and the hype is all building up to an unbelievable game. There will be 24 stars. There will be 0 defense. And there will be an arena rocking so loud that the roof might cave in.

But let's take a few steps back first. To recap, the week after the Grizzlies game the Hornets knocked off the Bulls and the Bucks. Both games were a little too close for comfort (for some of the stretches, at least), but in the end, the boys finished up 4-0 before the break after a disappointing 0-3 stretch. The strong finish puts the Hornets at 16-4 since the calendar changed (that's only one win behind the Jazz's 17-3 mark that's been stealing headlines). Regardless, we're having a great 2008... great is an understatement, as we actually hold the number 1 seed in the Western Conference.

Fast forward to Thursday night. A few friends and I headed out to a local microbrewery to watch (and listen to) a live broadcast of the Hornet's weekly radio program. The special guest of the evening was Jeff Bower, the Hornet's GM. We were hoping to grill him on upcoming trades/deals/moves... or whatever he would want to talk about. Unfortunately we were late and missed his segment. But all was not lost, as I managed to grab a table next to Mr. Bower and his wife. When he finished his pizza I cleverly managed to ignite a little conversation with him. After poking and prodding for a minute, I asked if there were any deals on the horizon... or anyone we were interested in acquiring. Observe:

me: So, are we pursuing any trades or free agents before the deadline.
Bower: Nothing's gonna happen tonight.
me: Well, I'll give you a call tomorrow then.

For those of you naysayers, that last line got a laugh from him, his wife, and some important looking guy who was lingering. This is all true. So turns out Jeff is a pretty smart business man. (Honestly, the press hound these guys day-in day-out, why did I think he'd tell me anything? Because I have season tickets in the cheap seats? Really? No.) I was hoping a trade would go down Friday night just for the hilarity that would ensue based on his comments from the previous evening.

Oh, and we also met Oscar Robertson. Yeah, the triple-double guy. He was there.


So, let's return to trade talks. I would like to applaud Sam Burness for being an "active" reader and challenging some of my more ridiculous statements. For those who are interested, just read the response (there's only been 1 so far) from the last post and you'll get a taste of the rhetoric that will be accompanying this blog for the rest of the season. At any rate, Sam disagrees with the Miller trade I proposed. And, what's more, his reasoning makes good sense. He pointed out that Miller adds an offensive gun with little defensive prowess, plus he plays for a team in our division (rebuilding or not, I don't see Memphis giving up a pseudo-star to a team they have to play four times a year). I mean, let's face it, the journalists have been saying it all season (not to mention every Sid and Nancy with a blog who thinks the world cares about what they have to say... lame): the Hornet's need a slasher with a penchant for driving to the bucket. We are totally incapable of drawing fouls and, as such, we rank dead last in the league in free throw attempts. Sam, in his infinite wisdom, suggested we go after Josh Childress or John Salmons. Thanks to every GM's nightmare (the trade machine), I figured we could offer Rasual Butler and either JuJu or Hilton for either player. The problem? Neither team is rebuilding and both have a reasonable shot at making the playoffs (ok, Sacramento doesn't have a "reasonable chance", but they are definitely building on the team they have for a playoff push next year and the only players they are interested in moving are older vets like Brad Miller, Kenny Thomas, and Artest). I for one would love to see a package deal to Atlanta that sent Rasual Butler and JuJu to Atlanta for Childress and Mario West. We get the slasher/good energy off the bench, they get a reliable (more or less) trade-off at the 3 slot plus young (lottery) talent. That setup would give us the following bench: Bobby Jackson, Childress, Uncle Bowen, Melvin Ely, Hilton Armstrong, and Mucho Jannero.

Remarkably, the Hornet's appear to be going after a much bigger name: Ben Gordon. Thanks to and, it appears that the Hornets were talking about sending Rasual Butler, Hilton Armstrong, Julian Wright (and maybe a first rounder) to Chicago for Gordon and Adrian Griffin. Good trade? I could get behind it. Rasual has been less-than-impressive as a go-to guy (although his last few games starting for Mo Pete have been pretty good), and Byron won't play Hilt or JuJu... ever. I think we'd be better for it in the long run. We get a proven star and they get some young talent to build around Deng, Hinrich, and (maybe one day) Tyrus Thomas. As I always say, 1 in the basket is better than 2 in the hen. Actually, I've never said that (and I'm pretty sure I butchered the phrase), but you get the point.


Friday. Curry and I scored tickets to the rookie/sophomore game (scored is a loose term... the upper deck was half-full at best). Actually, the lower section was full of kids. Literally, thousands of kids (and chaperons) from local schools. This ended up being a double-edged sword as it provided endless cheering, but also led to the inclusion of an American Idol celebrity as the half-time entertainment.

The game itself was fairly interesting. The rookies actually kept the score close well into the second half (the game is done in the college two 20 minute half format), but when Daniel "Booby" Gibson decided to drain 9 three-pointers, the game descended into a talent showcase complete will ridiculous dunks and a plethora of turnovers.

1. Kevin Durant is really good. He drives well, has excellent range, and has the quickness to elude big defenders. He tends to bear most of the weight of his team (even during this game) which leads to poor shot-selection, but given a few years, he will be a regular All-Star.

2. Brandon Roy is really good. We already knew this, but I thought it was worth mentioning. His performance the following night (on the big stage) was even more impressive, but I'll cover that tomorrow.

3. Jamario Moon and Sean Williams really want to be good. Both probably will be; however, I doubt either of them will ever be "great". Both have a penchant for hard defensive moves (Williams' 48 minute total in blocks is around 3.5), and they both love to dunk. They both seem a little careless, but I'm sure experience will help that. After the game went south, the two went tag-team on ally-oops (sometimes including the less-than-whelming Juan Carlos Navarro) deciding that playing real basketball was for sissies. Sean actually had the highlight play of the evening with his off the glass alley-oop-to-himself (think McGrady).

4. Chairman Yi (who is as impressive as this sausage) botched 3 or 4 dunks on the night. Incredible. He has a good midrange game with an pretty good moves in the post, but how do you miss all of your dunks in game where no one plays defense?

5. Mike Conley, Jr. was pretty disappointing. I've always been behind this guy, but he pretty much bottomed out for this game, contributing 6 turnovers in less than 20 minutes. Granted, he was playing much better team in a game designed to be skills exhibition... but still, 6? AI didn't even turn the ball over that much during the All-Star game.

We ended the evening by getting as close to the court as possible to watch the TNT guys interview LeBron. I don't know why I thought it would be exciting to see Chuck up close, but I did. We hung out for a while in the press area after crossing paths with Ric Bucher, but it turns out that he was the only journalist left we'd come close to recognizing. Then, we wandered outside and snuck into a restricted area to try and chat with Yao... but we found security before we found him (which is crazy because he's 7-6"... you don't lose a guy like that in a crowd).

Just a couple of dorky white guys.

On our way out, we snapped a photo thinking that our evening at the arena would be the closest we'd get to all of the action and mayhem of the weekend.

We couldn't have been more wrong. Stay tuned, more All-Star stories coming up in part 2.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

I'll take Mike Miller for 3

New Orleans 112 | Memphis 99

Let's face it. No one is really surprised by this win. We had a slight scare when we found out that Tyson still had the flu and Mo Pete was out for... well, we don't know why he was out, but he was. The we remembered that Mo averaged a less-than-whelming 7 points in January (to Peja's 18), and Tyson's absence on the boards probably wouldn't hurt too much now that Darko leads the Grizz's Pau-less big men. And then, after all of that, we remembered we were playing Memphis.

Our boys practically hurled themselves out of the gates, leading the Grizz 16-2 after 6 or 7 minutes. Memphis then proceeded the cut the deficit to 2 before the end of the quarter. The game continued in this manner (Hornets build up a big lead, slowly throw it away, then wake up to start the cycle over) until the fourth quarter when CP3 and company kicked it into high gear. Despite dishing out 16 assists, Paul only notched 2 points on 1 for 10 shooting, making this his lowest point total all season (it should be noted, however, that other than a 6 point [losing] effort against Utah and an 8 point [winning] effort against the Clippers, Paul has scored in double figures in every other game this season). D.West continued to show the world why he was a formidable All-Star selection by putting up a 30/10, and Peja dropped 26 point while going 6 of 12 from beyond the arc. These numbers reinforce what Curry and I have said all season: For the Hornets to win, they need 2 of the starting 5 to put up strong numbers. Done. CP3 takes a night off on points, no problem. Mo Pete drops off the map for a month, piece of cake. As long as someone steps up (and they have been), we're golden.

Which leads to my next topic: wouldn't it be great if could add one more piece to our arsenal to better ensure that someone (or 2 someones) steps up every night? Absolutely. And now that everyone and their mom is trying to make a power play in the West, why not join the fun? I don't think we need to shake up our core, but a slasher/forward/jump-shooter could really bolster our success... or even a dependable big man off the bench so we don't have to rely on the Uncle Bowen at power forward strategy. So who do we go for? My vote goes to Mike Miller. He's a proven threat beyond the arc and is good for 15-20 per night as a starter. Plus, who wouldn't be afraid of a Paul-Miller-Stojakovic-West-Chandler lineup? Ooooh, I just got goosebumps writing that.

(I should note here that, for those of you who know me, I have an inexplicable man-crush on Miller, Kevin Martin, and Matt Barnes. You shouldn't ask questions, you should just go with it. I only mention this because I know some of you are thinking that I only want this trade to happen because of said creepy obsession. But seriously, tell me this trade doesn't make sense... oh wait, I haven't told you who we're giving them.)

According to ESPN's trade machine (a wonderful invention, I might add), any of the following trades would bring Miller to the Hornets and keep both teams under the cap:

a) Rasual Butler, Bobby Jackson
b) Rasual Butler, Morris Peterson
c) Julian Wright, Bobby Jackson
d) Hilton Armstrong, Bobby Jackson

Obviously A would be the best option because it keeps our starting 5 intact. But we have to figure that in Memphis' rebuilding efforts they would obviously want someone who could at least be a respectable starter. B solves this problem, but I have a feeling that Mo Pete's 4 year contract is not that appealing to anyone considering his contributions so far. C and D offer young talent and actually clear more cap room for Memphis. If we went this route, it's simply a question of who Bower's willing to part with and who Memphis would want. I think we'd do better in the long run with Hilton (if we could develop him into a usable big man), but I would hate to see JuJu go. Either option is acceptable if it means bringing Miller to the Crescent City. To seal the deal, I'm pretty sure we'd have to offer a draft pick (first round, this year or next) which, again, is completely acceptable. Both teams win in this scenario. New Orleans gets another quality scorer to help make a deeper playoff push, and Memphis gets cap space, young talent, a contract that will end sooner than Miller's, and a future pick to help them rebuild. Done and done. Of course, given their front-office's ingenious business sensibilities, we could possibly end up with Miller and a future pick for Ryan Bowen and Hugo.

By the way, I think our attendance woes are finally over. Last night's game featured 17,200 people. It was only our second sellout of the season... but it was against Memphis. We can definitely blame the first one on LeBron's presence, but Memphis... really? I think all of those fans came to see their hometown's finest. Unless Rudy Gay is a bigger draw than I'm aware of. Add that to the hype surround next weekend's All-Star game (and the plethora of Hornets involved in the event) and I'd say we're set...

Then again, I have been a fan of New Orleans sports long enough to know that nothing is certain. I'm just hoping that being romantic about the whole thing will actually solve the problem. Ask me how that's going for my life in general. Actually, you should probably just go to the games instead.