Baseline Buzz Hot Taeks: Cho’s Firing


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:


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?



Hornets-Knickerbockers Trade Recap


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?




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.



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).


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 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.


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


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


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


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.


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

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



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 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).


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.


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.


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***



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***



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




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.


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).


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.


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?

Rookie Mistake


Greetings, and welcome to my first post for Baseline Buzz!

First, a brief history: I have been a Charlotte Basketball fan since 1988. My family owned season tickets during the franchise’s golden age (top row section 238, seats 1 and 2). I was at the playoff game when Zo hit the shot to beat the Celtics, and I was at every home playoff game in 2001 when the Bugs swept the Heat (and would have beaten the Bucks if Sam Cassell would have kept his glad-hands off the refs’ backsides). During the decade I lived in San Francisco, I bought NBA League Pass every year specifically for the purpose of watching every Bobcats game, and I was surely the only person to ever purchase a ticket to a game in Oracle Arena to cheer on Gerald Wallace. And no disrespect to Muggsy, Kendall, Johnny Newman, LJ and Zo, but I believe the greatest Hornets lineup of all-time was Baron Davis, David Wesley, Jamal Mashburn, PJ Brown and Elden Campbell (and the best bench player on that team was Eddie Robinson, for what it’s worth).

With Adam’s departure from Baseline Buzz, I am stepping in midseason and attempting to fill some gigantic shoes. It is no simple task, to say the least. Rather than pick one thing to hone in on, I am going to about two bad things, two unknown quantities, and two good things. Without further ado.


—Steve Clifford’s Refusal to Give Rookies Meaningful Minutes

Look, I get it. Steve Clifford is an old-school coach, and making rookies earn their place in the Association is an old-school move. The problem is that the Hornets are not old-school good.

I like Steve Clifford, and he is a much better coach than his predecessor. He seems like he would be a fun guy to have a beer with. But his propensity for driving rookies into the ground before they get their feet wet is one of his least endearing qualities. Malik Monk and Dwayne Bacon are both solid picks with gigantic potential upsides, but they need to play in order to develop into anything more than second or third-tier role players. Bacon is a solid second-rounder—if he develops into a solid NBA player, that is all gravy. But Monk needs to be in games early and often. He is a rhythm shooter, and you can’t develop rhythm on the bench. Give him meaningful minutes now, and he could be a star. Bench him so he can “learn the game” and he could be…. reverse-MKG?

—The Dwight Howard Experiment

Speaking of old-school basketball.

Unlike Adam, I hated the Dwight Howard trade from the beginning. The shedding of Plumlee’s contract was huge, and Howard’s star power is undeniable, but Dwight has a reputation of being a cancer in the locker room, and he is an admitted child-abuser.

That being said, he is putting up All-Star numbers on the basketball court, he obviously cares about the team’s performance, and I get the sense that he is trying very hard to push his teammates into the playoffs.

The problem is that he is a black hole on offense. A large portion of the Hornets’ plays so far this season consist of Kemba (or MCW) bringing the ball up court, passing it to Dwight, and then dropping back and watching Dwight either shoot or pump fake until he gets fouled.

In the past, the Hornets offense has worked with Cody Zeller at center because the CZA knows how to make the second, third and fourth pass to a cutting teammate or a shooter out on the perimeter. Of course Cody has been injured for a season and a half, so he hasn’t been an option of late.

Look, Dwight Howard is very good at basketball. There is a solution out there, I am just not sure if that solution is to teach Dwight how to pass to his teammates or look to trade him to a contender who needs a center that doesn’t know how to pass to his teammates. Either way, he has been a disruption to offenses on both sides of the floor.


—The Coaching Situation

Coach Clifford took a hiatus from the team for undisclosed health-related issues, and though Stephen Silas has a strong tie to Charlotte Basketball’s past (his father is former Hornets coach and current season ticket holder Paul “Huggy Bear” Silas), he doesn’t appear to be the answer should Clifford’s health or job performance become a longer term issue.

Jason Kidd just became available.  Just throwing that out there.

—The Kemba Walker Fiasco

Floating Kemba Walker’s name in trade conversations was a mistake.  Woj knows all and Woj tells all. The only scenarios that make sense regarding this mistake:

1) Motivation

Kemba has been a little stagnant of late. Maybe a trade rumor is the fire he needed to get going.

2) A Godfather Offer

An offer along the lines of Isaiah Thomas, Kevin Love and the Brooklyn pick or a package including Andrew Wiggins makes sense for both sides (Minnesota has always been high on Batum).

3) The Steph Factor

There is a Berenstainian possibility that a trade of Kemba Walker could pull Steph Curry further towards the Hornets in the future.

Reasoning: If Kemba does not get traded, he is all but guaranteed to pass Dell Curry as the leading scorer in Charlotte Basketball history.  A trade to preserve Papa Curry’s legacy is sure to be looked upon favorably.

Now, the trade scenarios that do not make sense:

1) Cap Relief

I don’t believe the Hornets are willing to dismantle their franchise to save a few bucks so long as Jordan is at the helm. Jordan wants to win, even if he hasn’t figured out how to do so as an owner.

2) Anything Involving Draft Picks

The Hornets are terrible at drafting and even worse at developing rookies. Trading an All-Star caliber player for draft picks does not make sense for this franchise.



—The Remaining Schedule

Over the first half of the season, the Hornets had one of the toughest schedules in the league (anywhere from the toughest to the fifth toughest, depending on metrics used). For the remainder of the season, they have the easiest schedule in the league. Barring further injury or a dumb trade, the playoffs are still in reach (as of this writing, the Hornets stand four games back of the 76ers for the eighth seed).


The advantage of developing an organization where you draft and retain players is that the players have the opportunity to learn together and grow together as professionals. Kemba Walker, Michael Kidd-Gilchrest, Cody Zeller, Frank Kaminsky, Malik Monk and Dwayne Bacon have all spent the entirety of their careers as products of the same developmental system. They don’t know anything different than Charlotte Basketball. Injuries to MKG and Zeller have derailed several potentially prime years, but they still know how to contribute if they are able, and everyone mentioned above is still very young.

And speaking of oft-injured players, Nic Batum isn’t a native Hornet, but he has recently built a house in Charlotte, so one can imagine that he has bought into the organization as much as he possibly can. If Dwight Howard and Michael Carter-Williams are able to become more comfortable with their teammates, good basketball could be over the horizon.