Sources: Cody Zeller is destined to be a Spur, and also, How We Got Mozgoved

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It’s been a while since my last post.  Please allow me to explain.

Being a Hornets fan is really hard.

I spent the latter weeks of the regular season clinging onto the slim hope that the Hornets could get the 8-seed in the East.  And then on March 8th, they lost to the vastly inferior Brooklyn Nets by 14, and a few days later, they lost to the Knicks by 23.  Neither game was as close as the score indicates.  That is when I threw a white flag up on 2018.

If you read any of my earlier posts, you know that I held two things to be true: 1) Steve Clifford’s time as an effective coach was over (though I knew he would be hired by the Magic, check that Twitter feed to the left!), and 2) Dwight Howard was a black hole on offense.

Both of these situations have now been remedied.  By all accounts, an effective replacement for Clifford has been hired in James Borrego.  And today’s trade (that will become official after July 6th) of Dwight Howard for Timofey Mozgov, two second round draft picks and cash concerns is a classic case of addition by subtraction.

The Dwight Howard move was terrible.  It was never going to work out.  Every team he has ever played for claims that he is a cancer in the locker room.  He is a notorious goofball.  He is a child abuser, which was never going to fly longterm in Charlotte (this is the city that chased the original Hornets franchise out of town because the owner–George Shinn–had an affair with a cheerleader).  He is a center in a league where the center position–as Dwight Howard plays it–is no longer important.  Atlanta took on the terrible Plumlee contract just to get rid of him.  I could go on and on.

Timofey Mozgov may never play meaningful minutes for the Hornets.  He may not even be on the roster by Friday.  But if this trade results in Kemba Walker staying and/or the shooters on the team getting actual opportunities to shoot and develop a rhythm, this will go down as one of the most important trades in franchise history.

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In other news: Cody Zeller is destined to be a San Antonio Spur.

Have you ever seen the sweet third passes that the CZA makes on the regular?  Those passes have ‘Popovich’ written all over them.  Sources say that Cody Zeller is the next Boris Diaw.

Kawhi wants out of San Antonio.  The Hornets are in a good spot to make a trade or be a third team facilitator for a draft day trade.  My gut says these sources are correct.

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As for me, I’m in that pre-draft sweet spot as a fan.  Anything is possible.  Optimism reigns supreme.  The Dwight trade has me jazzed.  If the Hornets have to go down, I’d rather see them go down missing open threes and running an actual offense than see Kemba pass the ball in to Dwight and then stand around and watch until Dwight shoots just before the shot clock expires.  But the Hornets don’t have to go down.  The 8-seed is in sight.  The time is now.

(Photo courtesy of Sports Illustrated)

Baseline Buzz Hot Taeks: Cho’s Firing

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Hello again, and welcome to Baseline Buzz Hot Taeks!

The reason I never followed up with a trade deadline recap after the Hernangomez trade is…  There was nothing to follow up with!

Which less me into:

THE TIMELINE THAT LED TO THE FIRING OF TRADER (TRAITOR?) CHO

1) Cho leaked to the media that Kemba Walker was available for trading, thus damaging the team’s relationship with their All-Star point guard.

2) A trade is made for Hernangomez.  This is obviously a precursor to another trade.

3) Jordan leaks that he is looking at Kupchak as a possible replacement for Cho when Cho’s contract expires because he is pissed off about the Kemba fallout.

4) Cho says “eff it, if I’m getting fired anyway, I’m not making another trade.”  The team is stuck with a bunch of PF/Cs.

5) Cho is fired.

Sound about right?

 

 

Malik Monk future All-Star?

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Ok, let’s pretend that Steve Clifford is the reason why Malik Monk isn’t playing significant minutes in the NBA.

If we can just watch these highlights from those handful of weeks before Nic Batum had recovered from a wrist injury, we might just be able to convince ourselves that Monk’s offense could compensate for his inability to guard any NBA player at the one or two-guard position.

Note: It looks like these enthusiastic highlight reels are high-quality curated content courtesy of whoever is trying to sell basketball gloves in the pre-roll ads. If you can just get past that, you’ll believe that there really are some excited and dedicated Malik Monk fans out there – not content farms automating highlights for obscure basketball players.

Nevertheless, the YouTube video research does support the theory that when Monk gets hot – he’s pretty darn good. It’s just that the Hornets can’t afford to give him 15-20 shots to find his rhythm every night.

That might be the issue. He needs to play for a team committed to being lousy, so he can just shoot his way through games. Unfortunately, he was picked high by an aspiring team that needed a lot more from a draft pick this past Summer in order to make the Playoffs. If Monk was on the Spurs, he’d never get off the bench. But, maybe the Hornets should accept that they aren’t on par with the Popovichian dynasty and just tell Malik to fire away for 25mins a night.

Without being too hard on the guy, fans should be reminded that he’s still only 20 years old. So, he’s been able to do some good things for a young guy at his first job. If Monk can progress and build his skillset as a pro, maybe we’ll see him in the rotation next year.  Then, it would be nice to watch him evolve and make the push into the starting five. Thus far, that seems pretty lofty for the rookie we’ve seen. Yet, Malik is the irrational confidence guy on the roster and I’d bet that he’s targeting All-Star MVP for 2019.

Let’s put it out there, already. Could Malik Monk be an NBA All-Star someday?

POLL : Malik Monk Future All-Star?

  • 5-time All-Star (27%, 21 Votes)
  • Maybe (44%, 35 Votes)
  • Nope (19%, 15 Votes)
  • In China (10%, 8 Votes)

Total Voters: 79

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Hornets-Knickerbockers Trade Recap

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Trade recap:

Right when things were looking pretty tame leading up to the trade deadline, the Hornets dealt Johnny O’Bryant and two future second round draft picks to the New York Knickerbockers for Willy Hernangomez.

Unless Kemba Walker gets traded before tomorrow at 3pm (and I don’t think he will), this may be the splashiest move the Bugs make.

My gut is that they will look to move Frank Kaminsky, Cody Zeller or MKG with Dwight Howard, but I’m not sure who is buying what they’re selling.

Please check back in tomorrow for further trade deadline-related news.

Just How Bad Are These “Bad” Contracts?

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Yo!

First, thanks to Scraps McMasters for suggesting this post.

I am going to do an inventory of the Hornets current contracts, breaking them down into tiers of FINE, QUESTIONABLE, and TURRIBLE.

Wanna hear it?  Here it go.

FINE

DWIGHT HOWARD

Dwight Howard is getting paid.  $23,500,000 this year, and the same next year.  Dwight Howard is playing All-Star quality basketball, knows how to manage the spotlight, and lends a bit of star power to the team.  His contract is fine (though I’d pay him even more if he could figure out how to pass the ball every now and then).

KEMBA WALKER

The only problem with Kemba’s contract is that it is not long enough.  $12,000,000 this year and next year is the best bargain in the NBA.  Kemba signed this deal so the team could bring in more Dwight Howards.  This contract is possibly the best in the NBA.

JEREMY LAMB

Jeremy Lamb is getting paid $7,000,000 this season and next season.  He is a solid bench player who could make an argument for being a starter.  His contract is fine.

MALIK MONK

Monk is on a rookie deal.  This contract is fine. He needs to be playing, though.

FRANK KAMINSKY

Frank is also on a rookie deal.  His contract is fine.

JOHNNY O’BRYANT, TREVEON GRAHAM

Both O’Bryant and Graham are on one year deals at the minimum.

MANGOK MATHIANG, MARCUS PAIGE

Both of these dudes are getting paid $75,000 to play for the Gatorade League, with the right to be called up to the Association.  These contracts are fine.

DWAYNE BACON

Bacon isn’t counting against the cap at all.  His contract is fine.

***10/16 Hornets contracts are FINE.***

QUESTIONABLE

NICOLAS BATUM

I sense that this is going to be my most questionable opinion, but hear me out:

Nicolas Batum is a BALLER with triple-double potential every night.  He was signed during the Salary Cap Expansion/TV-Money Gold Rush, when everyone was getting obscene deals, and he didn’t even sign a max deal (which he could have easily gotten).

Batum is most effective when he can post up on the perimeter and shoot threes, which is EXACTLY WHAT HE WAS SIGNED FOR.  The issue has been that Cody Zeller, who the team counts on to draw attention to the paint and pass it back out to Batum, has been injured for two years, and Dwight Howard doesn’t know how to pass (have I mentioned that?).

Further, Batum has a one-year old at home.  He is not sleeping.  He is having games where he looks like he is dragging because he probably hasn’t slept in a week.  This will pass.

Perimeter shooters are exactly what the Hornets need, and Batum loves living in Charlotte.  I think this contract is questionable, but leaning towards fine.

MARVIN WILLIAMS

Marvin Williams haters, listen up-: Starvin’ Marvin has had a career year every year for the past three seasons.  I understand that this is a stealthy fact, so I can forgive you for labelling him as the second coming of Gerald Henderson.  The only reason this contract is questionable is because of its length (he is signed through 2020), but I suspect he has at least one more career season upcoming (that would be his next contract year).

MICHAEL KIDD-GILCHREST

MKG is a great defensive presence, and is offense is still developing.  $13,000,000, which is what he is making this year and next, is fine.  The questionable part of this contract is the following season, which is a player option.  When MKG is healthy, he is possibly the secret MVP of the team, but he has been injured for the majority of his career, and history proves that he will probably get injured again shortly after Cody Zeller returns.

CODY ZELLER

Advanced analytics argue that Cody Zeller is the actual MVP of the team, and I won’t argue against that.  The Hornets are a playoff team with CZA in the lineup.  The problem with his contract is that he is signed through 2021, and he has been injured for the majority of the past two years.  If he comes back and stays healthy, his contract gets bumped up a tier.  If he continues to be an injury concern, his contract gets downgraded to TURRIBLE.  Right now, it is an unknown.

I suspect that the Hornets will give up on him, he will be traded to the Spurs, and he will immediately turn into Boris Diaw 2.0.

JULYAN STONE

Stone has a minimum contract, but it has an extra year on it.  That extra year is why he is in Tier Questionable.

***5/6 Hornets contracts are QUESTIONABLE***

TURRIBLE

MICHAEL CARTER-WILLIAMS

MCW is only making $2,700,000, and he is only locked up for the remainder of this season, but I don’t care how much he is getting paid for how little time.  This is a TURRIBLE contract.

***1/16 Hornets contracts are TURRIBLE***

HONORABLE MENTION

STEVE CLIFFORD

Steve Clifford is getting paid $6,000,000.

I like Coach Cliff, but I feel like he gets a whole lot of credit for being a nice guy who is better than the worst NBA coach of all-time (Mike Dunlap, his predecessor).  He has made the playoffs twice, and lost in the first round both times.  His system is tired.  I am going to label Clifford’s contract as borderline QUESTIONABLE/TURRIBLE.  I think the team has held onto him for too long.  Mark Jackson, Jeff Van Gundy, and Jason Kidd are all coaches who are available and who have better track records.

Bottom line: The Hornets aren’t mired in mediocrity because of their contract situations.  They haven’t had a healthy team in years.  They have the pieces to be a quality team with a coaching change, a better backup PG, and better luck with injuries.

 

 

 

 

A Tale of Two Kitties

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The 2011-2012 Charlotte Bobcats are widely considered to be the worst basketball team of all time.  At 7-59 in a lockout shortened season, their winning percentage was .106, a record for futility.  The odds of obtaining the first pick in the 2012 NBA draft–and a guaranteed franchise player in the University of Kentucky’s Anthony Davis–were ever in their favor.

Fate had other ideas.

The New Orleans Hornets, the franchise that abandoned Charlotte years earlier (due in large part to the very public fallout from an affair then-owner George Schinn had with one of the team’s cheerleaders, or “Honeybees”) won the pick.  The Bobcats, the worst team of all-time, would select second.

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The University of Kentucky Wildcats–famous of late for housing coach John Calipari’s one-and-done NBA product assembly line–had just won the NCAA championship, led not by freshman Anthony Davis, but by another freshman, Michael Kidd-Gilchrest, who stepped up in the NCAA Tournament when Davis faltered.

It was Kidd-Gilchrest who the Bobcats would take with their number two pick, passing up Florida freshman sensation Bradley Beal (a 2018 NBA All-Star), Weber State’s Damian Lillard (a Rookie of the Year and three-time All-Star), Connecticut freshman Andre Drummond (a former All-Star), and Draymond Green, the NABC Player of the Year from Michigan State (a three-time NBA All-Star, two time All-NBA section, the 2017 Defensive Player of the Year, and two-time NBA champion).

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Drafting Michael Kidd-Gilchrist because he dominated the NCAA title game was a risky move, but not an unprecedented one for the franchise (see: Kemba Walker, or perhaps the modern-day equivalent–drafting Malik Monk because he had the game of his life against UNC on national television).  Hindsight being 20/20, it is easy to argue that the Bobcats should have selected Damian Lillard (despite the fact that they already had Kemba Walker) or Draymond Green (who is a much better MKG than MKG, but who also slipped to the second round), but the consensus media pick at the time was Bradley Beal.  Michael Kidd-Gilchrist wasn’t a terrible pick at the time, but he was no Anthony Davis.

That’s not a knock on MKG.  Anthony Davis is likely a once-in-a-generation type of player, a player who loves Charlotte, has family in Charlotte, and definitely should have been a Charlotte Bobcat.  Over his career, the Brow has averaged 22.8 ppg, 10.2 rpg, and 2.3 blocks, versus MKG’s 9.3 ppg, 6.2 rpg, and 0.8 blocks. A comparison of advanced analytics wouldn’t be fair to put into print.

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I bring this brief comparison up in the aftermath of the latest Pelicans vs. Hornets game because matchups between the two teams always leave me wondering what could have been.  An Eastern Conference franchise built around Kemba Walker and Anthony Davis would have been fun to watch, to say the least.  The stuff dreams are made of for Hornets fans.

I will leave you with a couple questions:

  1. Pelicans is still a terrible name for a team, am I right?

2) Does anyone else wonder if Michael Jordan traded the top pick to New Orleans for the right to bring the Hornets name back to Charlotte?

2b) Would you rather have the Hornets name and colors back or Anthony Davis in a Bobcats jersey?