Bernucca: Stern & NBA have made a mess of Hornets

commissionerWhen it comes to running franchises, David Stern is doing a great impersonation of Ted Stepien.

Stepien owned the Cleveland Cavaliers in the early 1980s and spent most of his time firing coaches, overpaying mediocre players and trading away so many draft picks that the NBA instituted the “Ted Stepien Rule,” which now prevents teams from trading first-round picks in consecutive years.

Stepien’s mismanagement of the Cavaliers had to be fixed by the NBA. But the NBA – led by Stern – owns the mess that has become the New Orleans Hornets. So who fixes them?

The NBA has mismanaged the Hornets to a state of embarrassment. It vetoed a trade of superstar Chris Paul that would have netted four rotation players and a first-round pick while making the Hornets a legitimate playoff contender. Then it approved a second trade of Paul that landed empty assets – highlighted by an unsigned Eric Gordon – that could mire the Hornets in mediocrity for years to come.

The Hornets are at the bottom of the league in both performance and attendance as they continue to ask a dispassionate fan base to be patient. At the same time, they have been somewhat less than forthcoming about the state of their team and players.

On Monday, Jac Sperling – the man chosen by Stern to broker the sale of the Hornets – said the team’s future is very positive. He is right, because comparatively speaking, it cannot be any worse than the present.

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, never one to pass up the chance to tell Stern and his sidekicks when they are not the smartest guys in the room, summed it up best earlier this week.

“Bad management gets you bad results,” he said.

Stern’s job is to make the league profitable as a whole while doing the same for as many individual owners as possible. The extent of his evaluation of players does not go beyond handing out punishment in extreme cases or selecting the occasional All-Star injury replacement.

But he scuttled the deal to send Paul to the Lakers primarily because it sent Paul to the Lakers – scant hours after reaching accord on a new collective bargaining agreement that was supposed to give smaller market teams a chance to keep their superstars.

Had the first deal been approved, the Hornets would have landed four proven players in Luis Scola, Kevin Martin, Lamar Odom and Goran Dragic, plus a first-round pick from Houston.

At that point, Stern turned over all matters regarding Paul to operation executives Joel Litvin and Stu Jackson. Yes, that Stu Jackson, who may be as responsible as any one man for relocating the Grizzlies from Vancouver to Memphis. During his days running the Grizzlies, he gave Bryant Reeves a maximum contract extension, drafted Steve Francis and traded him for a bag of hammers and dealt a future first-round pick for Otis Thorpe that nearly became LeBron James.

So Litvin and Jackson went back to the drawing board and redirected Paul to the Clippers and immediately resigned the Hornets to a much longer and riskier path back to respectability.

The second deal landed Gordon, the expiring contract of Chris Kaman and Al-Farouq Aminu, plus an unprotected first-round pick that originally belonged to Minnesota.

There is no denying that the NBA’s intent was clearing long-term expenses off the books of the Hornets and making them more attractive to a prospective buyer. Scola and Martin have long-term eight-figure deals, and Odom has a pricy team option. Meanwhile, Gordon and Aminu are still on their rookie contracts and Kaman’s eight figures come off the books this summer.

But what may be attractive on paper forces you to look away when it is on full display. Instead of being in position to seriously contend for a playoff spot, the Hornets are by far the worst team in the Western Conference and headed for 50-plus losses in a 66-game season.

This was the starting lineup for the Hornets in Monday’s rare win over the Jazz: Trevor Ariza, Gustavo Ayon, Kaman, Marco Belinelli and Greivis Vasquez. Off the bench were Aminu, Xavier Henry, Lance Thomas and Donald Sloan.

This could have been their lineup: Ariza, Scola, Ayon, Martin and Dragic, with Odom, Belinelli and Vasquez off the bench.

As a fan, GM or prospective buyer, which lineup would you rather see on the court?

The Hornets unquestionably have been hit hard by injuries this season; Neither lineup includes rotation players Emeka Okafor, Jarrett Jack, Carl Landry and Jason Smith. But whatever your opinion is of Scola, Martin, Odom and Dragic – and we think pretty highly of all of them – they are healthy and making measurable contributions to their current teams.

It is obvious that the NBA has decided that the Hornets should shed payroll, take their lumps and build through youth to attract a buyer. Except that buyer hasn’t materialized, because people with enough money to buy a sports team know a dog with fleas when they see one. The NBA paid $310 million for the Hornets. In January, Forbes Magazine valued the franchise at $285 million.

Stern has said that a local individual or group would come forward by mid-season. That’s next week, folks.

Sperling was at practice Monday and twice referenced a “new owner” to local media but had no specifics. Meanwhile, there is a collective plea to a dispassionate, disenfranchised fan base to remain patient while being disingenuous on several fronts.

Despite making the playoffs in three of four seasons since returning from their displacement to Oklahoma City in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the Hornets have finished better than 23rd in attendance just once. This season, they are 27th at 14,302 per game. One of the teams they are ahead of is the Nets, who are a nearly as bad and also a lame duck in Newark.

And if you want your fan base to remain patient, it might be a good idea to not mislead them.

Kaman was acquired because of his attractive cap slot, but the Hornets gave him a forced vacation for six games while it explored trade possibilities. Finding nothing overwhelming appealing, they returned the big man to active duty.

What exactly was the purpose of that? Were the Hornets looking to trade Kaman for players who could provide immediate help, which the first Paul trade would have done? Or were they looking to deal him for another expiring contract, which we like to call “trading sideways”?

The handling of Gordon has been even worse. One of the NBA’s best young shooting guards, he was clearly the centerpiece of the return package for Paul and the foundation of the team’s rebuilding plans. He could have been signed to a contract extension that would have shown fans that the plan is under way. Instead, GM Dell Demps – with input from the NBA, of course – refused to give him a maximum four-year, $62 million deal.

If you really want the guy, you don’t nickel-and-dime him – unless, of course, you know more about his knee injury than you have told your fans. Gordon has been limited to just two games this season due to what was originally said to be a bone bruise but ultimately required surgery.

The original prognosis was three weeks. After four weeks, Gordon was not close to returning, and the team revised his return window to as much as six weeks. As that window began closing last week, Gordon was found to need arthroscopic surgery that will keep him out another six weeks.

It could be April before Gordon is ready to return. He becomes a restricted free agent July 1 and should be in no hurry to get back on the court for the Hornets this season – or maybe any other season. The Hornets already have refused to max him out once; it is not outside the realm of possibility that they could pass on him again should he receive a huge offer from the Mavericks or his hometown Pacers. Or he could sign a qualifying offer, spend one more season in the NBA’s self-made purgatory and be free as a bird come 2013.

So to sum up, here is what the Hornets now have to offer a prospective buyer, thanks to the smartest guys in the room:

  • A truly awful team in a city that has a history of difficulty in supporting it.
  • Aminu, the eighth overall pick who has shown next to nothing compared to other recent No. 8 picks Brandon Knight, Rudy Gay and even Channing Frye. He is better than Joe Alexander, though.
  • Gordon, whose next game probably will be in late October 2012, possibly will not be with the Hornets, who have some serious damage control to do with their prized possession.
  • Kaman, whose cap slot of $14 million almost certainly will have to be spread among multiple players or used to overpay a middling player. No established star in his right mind would want to be part of a team whose purse strings are in the firm grip of the folks at Olympic Tower with a massive rebuilding plan on tap.
  • Minnesota’s unprotected first-round pick, which isn’t going to be anywhere near the top of the draft and could actually end up being worse than Houston’s pick. Even if the Timberwolves were as bad as the Hornets, a duo from the collection of teenagers Anthony Davis, Andre Drummond, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Harrison Barnes would still beg a tremendous amount of patience.

Nice job, Dave.

Stepien would be proud.

Chris Bernucca is a regular contributor to His columns appear Wednesdays and Sundays. You can follow him on Twitter.



  1. Carl-Erik says

    This article is so full of fallacies and plain bullshit I would highly recommend avoiding any of Mr. Bernucca’s articles in the future. What a joke.

  2. Bee Dat says

    oh, and as for the attendance thing, is it our fault that we are among the leagues 3 smallest markets? our attendance numbers are not half bad, taken in context. You compare us to nj, the most densely populated state on the map.

  3. Bee Dat says

    As one of the many dispassionate fans of the Hornets, I beg to disagree. While not unanimous, most of us feel the clippers trade was better for the organization than the lakers trade. Rebuilding is not a crime. You discredit the New Orleans fans for the _th time (i lost count about halfway through the article) when you suggest that we’re not patient enough to wait out the rebuilding process, or not smart enough to see that rebuilding from scratch now gives us the best future (oh wait that’s you, oops).

    A roster consisting of egordon, ariza, ayon, okafor, jack & greivis (or hopefully an upgraded pg), jsmith, landry/kaman/or young player(s) their traded for, 2 of the aforementioned rookis, plus 10-20 mil of cap space does sound like an exciting future.

    Regarding gordon, while many of us would have liked to see the deal consummated, why would the hornets throw the max at him when he is restricted and nursing a knee injury. We were negotiating from a position of strength and outside of goodwill had no rational reason to offer the max at that point.

    Now if Stern and co. have been lying to us and sell the team to out-of-towners, disregard my comments. I agree with you wholeheartedly.

  4. Janjan says


    rebuilding while in mediocrity only applies to big market teams, we small market teams need to do it through the draft

    If we were, lets say the Knicks. We will take the LAL-HOU deal, and wait for a star that says “i want to play with the Knicks”. then we can package these players to get that STAR.

    BUT we are not the knicks, you would never hear any STAR player say “I want to play for the hornets” thus limiting the value of these “assets”. The only way for us to be great is to be gamble on the draft.

  5. NotoriousBEE says

    What a terrible article! Boo to you and your idiotic opinion. Thank god we have folks at hornets247 and to provide some insightful commentary instead of this garbage. How could you possibly think a perennial 8th seed of 30 something’s is better than the current blowup project. Moreover, had you actually watched a hornets game this year, you would realize that the hornets, with a healthy Eric Gordon, would be competing for the 8th seed you hold in such high esteem. You sir, are a moron.

  6. Daniel says

    This article is based on one thing: you assuming the Hornets want to be middle of pact. Which would we, as fans, rather have? 3 years of below average team, then a legitimate contender, or 10 years of first round exits? I think every fan base would take the first.

    We have Gordon as a restricted free agent, that is a step in the right direction. Now do you remember the Hornets before CP3? Absolutely pitiful team. You give them Cp3 the next year in the draft, and all the sudden, 2 years later, we are fighting with LA for that first in the West spot, and one game from the Western Conference finals.

    I assume with as loaded as the draft is this year, we will find someone of Cp3 calibre in the top 3. As loaded as the draft is, as you said in another comment, we may find another David West in the middle of the first if we scout well enough. Then you throw in Gordon, and we are fairly well set for the future.

    Thanks for the article and attention, but we as hornets screwed up our one shot of building around Cp3, and with new management and a upcoming new owner, we fully intend on doing it the right way this time. We want to be contenders, not just a first round exit.

    • Daniel says

      Oh and mr. writer, please respond to this comment if you are not too busy. I would love for you to explain to me as a sixers fan, why your opinion of which trade is worse is more important than I, a fairly content Hornets fan who follows everything the team does.

      • Chris says

        I’m not too busy. I want my team in the playoffs, every year, even if it means a first-round exit. I don’t want to start seasons with no hope of postseason play and wondering what teenager could possibly rescue my franchise. I am not a big believer in the draft; I believe it is more hit and miss than most people feel. I would much rather try to build a team with established young NBA players. It is quite possible that over the long term, the approved deal will serve the Hornets well. But right now, it is not. And there is no finite answer to what “long term” actually means. The Sixers had a number of high draft picks in the mid 90s and made nothing of them. Even with the drafting of Iverson, they still needed to couple him with an outstanding coach and established young players such as Ratliff, McKie, George Lynch, Tyrone Hill, etc. Some of this is horses for courses. But if I was a Hornets fan, I’d be miserable right now. I don’t like waiting, and I’d rather make the playoffs while I am.

        • Daniel says

          Some Hornets fans agree with you. Most don’t. The educated don’t. Most other teams in the NBA view the Hornets as a place that players just go to and be unhappy. Hate their job, location and management until their contract is up so they can leave. We as fans hate that. We as fans want a title. Thats all we want. Want to know why we want a title? Because of what I said above. I will type this in all caps, because you seem not to understand it: MAKING THE PLAYOFFS WILL NOT CONVINCE OTHER FRANCHISES WE ARE JUST AS IMPORTANT AS THEM. We have made the playoffs before. Big woop. With a team centered around Martin and Scola thats all it would be. An extension of the regular season, because we would know we couldn’t beat the Bulls, Heat, OKC, heck probably not even the Sixers. We have been to the playoffs before, but only one time have we had a chance to win it al. Losing in that series to San antonio was one of the most painful experiences of my life because I KNEW we could have won it all that year. This season is not nearly as painful as that series ending. Why would we want to become middle of the pack just to feel that pain of getting knocked out every year again? POSSIBLY upsetting someone in the first round and then getting our hopes up just to get crushed in the second round?

          You seem caught in the idea of “making the playoffs is good” but it isn’t. Making the playoffs if you have a chance to win it all is. Making the playoffs as we would be is basically meaningless. As a Sixer fan, you should know this. But you don’t. I understand you wanting to defend your work. Good for you, 99% of the time you are a well educated author who is extremely informed. But this article is not. It is biased and wrong.

          Once again, please reply if you are not too busy.

          • Chris says


            I see your side of things. I really do. I just don’t agree with it. I don’t see a lot of good coming out of the notion of telling fans, players, team employees, city officials, etc. “We are not competing this year.” Maybe it’s because I am a HS coach and I’m consumed with competing. But I don’t think making the playoffs is meaningless; I think it breeds the right attitude throughout the organization.

            Gotta go. Have to write the morning roundup, which will be led by your Hornets “stopping the Linsanity.” Long live Susan Powter.


  7. Chris Trew (@christrew) says

    I’m just going to come back to this page in a few weeks when we have a long term lease and local owner and then point my fingers and laugh.

    Who Dat. I’m In.

  8. NOH Domination says

    Would you rather have a lineup of dragic, martin, ariza, scola, okafor or jack, gordon, ariza, ayon, anthony davis with another potential lottery pick the following year? I know which one I’m taking and it’s the one with anthony davis. Hornets are in a fine position, just live out the year.

  9. says

    Just want to make it clear to anyone reading these comments (and apparently to Burnucca as well) that the Joe leaving comments here is not me, Joe Gerrity from Hornets247. A lot of people are incorrectly assuming it is, even though the style is very different than mine.

    There are lots of people who watch the Hornets and are named Joe. I actually know half a dozen Joe’s that regularly read Hornets247.

    Our fan base may be relatively small, but we’re not so small that we only have one Joe.

    Happy Mardi Gras

    • Chris says


      Did not assume it was you. Try to answer all respectful questioning comments respectfully, and don’t really care who they come from. I do care that people are reading, whether smoke is coming out of their ears or not. We’ve all felt like we’re putting notes in bottles tossed to sea at times, so it was interesting to see this sort of response.

      I used to be more familar with Hornets 24/7 when I rounded up daily blog posts for PBN. I remember it being one of the better NBA blog sites out there, as I recall – clean copy, thoughtful, passionate.

      I think what got lost in some of the discourse here is (a) I have no dog in this fight when it comes to whether the Hornets get good again or not and (b) the target was Stern and how his heavy-handed mishandling has put the Hornets where they are, which IMO is an unappealing position. Others feel differently. The truth is the daughter of time and ultimately will reveal whether it was a good or bad deal. Right now, to me, it looks considerably less than rosy, with a lot of “ifs” and blind hope.

      I saw Mason’s rebuttal. I thought it was a little nit-picky on some fronts but overall it presented the upbeat counterpoint to my “Gloomy Gus” view. A lot of this stuff comes down to “eye of the beholder” stuff. I like established players; others like draft picks. I like trying to fix what I have to remain perennially competitive; others like the wrecking ball and starting over. I like honesty; others like optimism.

      Keep up the good work down there.


      • Trey says

        “I like honesty; others like optimism.”

        Right. So you are the crusader for truth, while those that disagree are daydreamers who don’t see the world as it is.

        Chris, you like honesty? You were called out for not reporting the facts in an honest manner. Your response is to then belittle the people who showed you to be clueless. If you really liked honesty, you would admit you made false claims in your piece. You would admit that you were rightfully taken to task for it. Instead you decide to respond with arrogance. I don’t see much honesty in your original piece or in your response to criticism.

  10. Dave says

    The Hornets situation speaks to the larger problem with the NBA and small market teams, and that is why contraction to me is the only solution. When you have a league that solely relies on superstars to market themselves, each team will live and die with them. The problem is there are only a handful of superstars or great players in the NBA, and not enough to spread out through the 30 teams. Now what has happenened since ‘The Decision’ that all the superstars want to play together on a few teams, so now you have half the league that field teams that have ZERO chance of winning or even being entertaining the first game of the season. If I’m a Hornet or Bobcats fan, give me one reason I would pay for a ticket to see one of their games?

    The NBA needed to figure this all out in the last CBA, as I always thought they should contract to atleast 24 teams (4 divisions/6 teams), maybe even 20 teams (4 divisions/5 teams) and can atleast put out a better overall product to the fans. Right now there are about 10 teams that are worth watching (hence those same 10 teams are on ESPN/TNT/ABC each week, and the other 20 teams are unwatchable.

    With less teams, you will give the bad teams a better chance of getting better quicker. Right now if you are a bad team, it could take years to rebuild and you still have to have alot of luck in the lottery. Less is more in sports sometimes, but for some reason the owners and players just don’t get it.

    • Chris says

      Contraction is an interesting topic. With the globalization of the game I believe there are more than enough players to fill 30 teams; however, your point is that there may not be enough superstars. I’m not sure if that’s any different from the ’60s, when the Cincinnati Royals had Oscar and Jerry Lucas and never made the Finals.

      I also agree with Popovich in that luck is an element in almost every championship. You need good fortune to stay healthy, cash in with a high lottery pick, find a mid-round pick who has a hidden character element that makes him special, have a superstar entirely committed to winning, etc.

      Many of the early comments following this post were emotionally driven. A day later, it is nice to see somewhat more rational voices. Thanks for reading.

      • Dave says

        I agree that the globalization of Basketball is a positive with guys like Dirk in the last 10-15 years. But I still go back to the superstar factor when it comes to the NBA, and David Stern has lived and died by it. Every smart NBA fan knows if you don’t have a superstar on your team, you really have no shot at winning a title and no other major sport is like that.

        In the NFL, you had the 9-7 Giants win the Superbowl. In MLB you had a Wildcard Cardinals who made the playoffs on the last night win the World Series. In the NHL, you always have some 8th seed upsetting a 1seed every April.

        Now in one way thats what makes the NBA great, is the best team usually wins the title, but the downside of that is you have about 20 teams who have no shot on opening night. Contraction would do many things to make the NBA product better: Every team will be better top to bottom, as expansion has dilluded the talent (in all sports). Of course there will always be bad teams in sport, but it will easier to rebuild because you don’t have as many bad teams jockeying for one or two superstars in every draft. Right now if you miss the playoffs, you are the 14th worst team in the league, and usually any superstar is taken by #5 pick. With 20 or 24 teams, you are only competing with 4-8 non-playoff teams for those coveted Lottery Picks.

        I say this because I am a 76ers fan, and this team has been tough to watch for the past 10 years. The worst thing to happen to us is we were a mediocre team so we were never getting any superstars in the draft picking at 16 or 17th overall, so it took us year to build a winner. This year has been the first exciting season since around 2003, but deep down I still know we can’t win a title without a true superstar.

        As I said, the NBA lives and dies with a superstar, and your team is fun to watch when you have one, but tough to watch if you don’t.

  11. Pistol says

    It’s a little premature for the argument that this article makes. Of course the Clips trade was going to make the Hornets worse this year than the Lakers trade. As a small market team, the Hornets are never going to attract championship level talent through FA, so they chose to rebuild through the draft. They passed on the opportunity to become the Bucks (team locked into mediocrity for several years) to try and follow the Thunder model of building a team, and I can’t fault them for that. Time will tell what was the right choice, but too soon to call it now.

  12. RC says

    Hey Chris, What does Tom Benson once threatening to move the Saints have to do with the Hornets? Btw Tom Benson if you had any actual insight on the Hornets, Benson is the leading contender to buy the Hornets. Lets, see the Saints one of the best small market teams in pro sports 30,000 season ticket waiting list. Every pro owner has threaten to move his team out of town at one time or another. Yeah, as Hornets fan I really want a disgruntled player in Lamar Odom, and Luis Scola a 32 year old power forward who is overpaid and on the books for 3 more years after this season. Has Gordon come out and said he doesn’t want to play in NO? With his injury-history gotta feeling the Hornets are gonna sign him to an less than Max deal this summer. No thx, Take my chances on Gordon, and 2 lottery picks and the 23 million in cap space NO has this summer.

    • Chris says

      You can’t compare NFL and NBA because of the difference in revenue sharing models. Also, certain cities like one sport more than another. NO doesn’t have baseball or hockey team, BTW. I would not like the owner of my favorite NBA team to be a guy who once threatened to move another franchise he owned. As I said in another response, most of the disagreements here are eye-of-the-beholder stuff. You’re certainly entitled to your opinion, as am I. Thanks for reading.

  13. Jim says

    If someone else mentioned this I missed it, but wouldn’t have the best thing for the Hornets to do with Chris Paul this year was not trade him? Look at Orlando right now: yes the situation is ongoing, yes several players have said on the record it is annoying to deal with, and it still appears that they will lose him after the year. But the Magic are playing well right now and the fans are sticking around. What Stern did in denying the first trade was an example of a dictator abusing his power, and it would have made them a fringe playoff team, but there in nothing worst than being a fringe playoff team. It doesn’t get you high picks if you miss the playoffs, and if they make the playoffs you get a first round crushing. And while the Eric Gordon trade brought them Eric Gordon and a pick we all know Eric Gordon is counting down the days until he leaves. And draft picks are nice, but there are no guarantees with picks.

    There are certain players that you cannot get equal value back in return for, and Chris Paul is one of them. The Magic is the example that the Hornets and David Stern should have followed, and that all teams should follow in the future when their stars ask to be traded. Humor them, allow their agents to engage in talks with other teams, and tell the player you will try to trade them; but in reality have no intention of trading that star and play out the season.

  14. Steve says

    Great article. In addition to making the Hornets respectable the trade would have landed the Rockets P. Gasol, who arguably was the second best center in the league during last year’s regular season, and of course resolved the Lakers’ point guard woes. Sounds like a win-win-win to me.

    David Stern please retire!

    • matt says

      So the Hornets should just enjoy being “respectable” while the Lakers dominate again, and Houston has the second best center in the league plus Lowry? That is exactly was wrong with this trade, no one really cared of the Hornets are stuck being mediocre for the duration of all the contracts they take on. With Chris Paul they had at least some hope for a future, what would that be with 3 players an average age of over 30?

  15. mowe says

    I feel like in an effort to be in line with the rest of the article you’ve completely downplayed the importance of the draft, the number 1 way bad teams turn around their fate. You didn’t mention the Hornets’ own pick, which will likely get one of the best players in this class in addition to Minnesota’s lottery pick. I know still nothing’s guaranteed, but I feel like the draft deserves something more than a quick dismissal, especially because we’ve been hearing all year how stacked in talent it is.

    I agree with your sentiment that Stern fucked up the Hornets by vetoing the trade, but this article should have been more balanced with its outlook.

  16. Jim says

    Jesus Christ, I’m unfollowing Sheridan on twitter and never returning to his website. Between this and the rondo article, a new low of basketball journalism has been set. Thanks for the headache.

  17. matt says

    Ok where to starrt. I understand writing this just to make discussions but come on.

    • Chris Bernucca says

      1. Yes, Gordon is restricted. He can sign a qualifying offer this summer, play under that one-year offer and completely walk with no compensation the following year – which is exactly what I wrote.

      2. What owner would buy the Hornets? I don’t know. But I do know a couple of guys just bought the Pistons and the Warriors, who also have been missing the playoffs with regularity and have contract issues.

      3. I have no doubt players in this draft will be good – eventually. Not right away. Which means fans will have to wait. Longer. Again.

      • matt says

        Well on a quick wide note i do appreciate a response, but..

        1. Yes he can walk away. Do restricted free agents who will get paid do that a lot? Not really. Easier to say he walks after the extension is up.

        2. Golden state has young stars. Yes Pistons have messy contracts but at least they get better through draft. 8th seed teams usually dont.

        3. Personally I think fans would rather wait than always compete for the 8 seed. Isnt the whole fun point of it all trying to get good enough to win, not good enough to maybe make the playoffs with no future.

        • matt says

          Oh and 1 more 1 quick point. Gordon is injured and is not an all star yet so who would give him max money anyway and could he really pass up on a still sizeable hornets deal? He could have an awesome contract year, but its still a risk. Thats why I think he signs a short extenion and plays with their future great young core. That and even later the Hornets will be able to offer him more money than anyone still.
          However lets say he still wants to leave. Couldnt the Hornets trade him for a Danny Granger? They would still get something either way, even if he does sign the qualifying offer and leave. Plus Granger or someone similar and a few young stars sounds pretty good too.

  18. Jimbo says

    Honestly, they should’ve just contracted the Hornets. The league wants the team to stay in New Orleans so badly, but the fanbase doesn’t really care about the franchise. Even when Chris Paul was there, the franchise was struggling. Now that he’s gone, there’s no reason for fans to show up. In my opinion, the NBA is acting like the NHL has with the Phoenix Coyotes. The franchise is better off leaving, but the league is trying to force things to work out, when a fresh start would be in everyone’s best interests. Someone might buy the franchise if they could move it to a better market (maybe give Seattle back their basketball team, since they deserve a franchise a lot more than New Orleans does? They got totally screwed over and didn’t deserve to lose their team). But no one will buy the Hornets if they’re forced to keep them in New Orleans. Way to go, Stern & Co.

  19. James says

    Wow, congratulations you have no idea what you’re talking about.

    “dispassionate fanbase” — I guess you don’t call the 10,000 + season ticket holders passionate.

    “Sperling was at practice Monday and twice referenced a “new owner” to local media but had no specifics. Meanwhile, there is a collective plea to a dispassionate, disenfranchised fan base to remain patient while being disingenuous on several fronts.” — Why would you announce an ownership prematurely only to screw up the purchasing process. It’s rumored (if you had been bothered to do any research) that Gary Chouest, Mike Dunleavy, Morris Bart and even Saints owner Tom Benson are all interested in purchasing the team.

    “Instead, GM Dell Demps – with input from the NBA, of course – refused to give him a maximum four-year, $62 million deal.” — So you give a guy, who’s played just two games for you your maximum amount of money? You’d be a great GM.

    “A truly awful team in a city that has a history of difficulty in supporting it.” Clearly didn’t watch the 2008 season…

    “Even if the Timberwolves were as bad as the Hornets, a duo from the collection of teenagers Anthony Davis, Andre Drummond, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Harrison Barnes would still beg a tremendous amount of patience.” — So you wouldn’t want the Hornets to truly rebuild, you’d want them stuck in mediocrity being eliminated in the first or second round each and every year, with bloated contracts and overpaid players on their books.

    Just because the Lakers didn’t get Chris Paul doesn’t mean you need to rag on the Hornets fan base (which has been through enough might I say) and continue to drudge your opinion on David Stern. We get it, the Lakers almost had Chris Paul, the deal was never final (despite what Lakers fans say) it was in the parameters of an agreement when it was decided the Hornets didn’t like it.

    They didn’t like it because they were taking on way more salary than the Lakers and were only going to have a team that would be around the 8th seed in the West for the next five years getting them nowhere long term.

    Deals get vetoed all the time, it’s just because it was Chris Paul and the Lakers that people jumped all over it.

    So once again, thanks for spewing your hatred for small fan bases, especially the Hornets, all over the internet.

    Good day.

    • franke says

      David Stern told the entire NBA that Demps was the acting GM and was empowered to negotiate and make trades for the team. He watched as several teams negotiated for weeks in good faith with Demps while foregoing other opportunities and then when he feels the heat from the owner/whiners because it was *gasp* the Lakers who got Paul he unilaterally killed the deal.

      In the end a small market team DIDN’T get Paul (it was the SAME market!), they put a worse team on the floor, the screwed LA, Houston – who had been prepping the deal for a year, and NO, and they’ve screwed the franchise’s future by getting one good piece who turns out not to want to be there and is seriously damaged (you don’t fake surgeries). Even competing players – who were still angry at Stern for the lockout – felt it was a screw job. After all these years it’s now Stern’s legacy.

  20. Joe says

    TERRIBLE ARTICLE, why are you still talking about that laker deal better than the Clips one?? 10 of 10 local writer that really know the Hornets would tell you they prefer Clips deal all day. Don’t believe go please. What can he hornets do with that lakers deal? 2 first round exits for the next two years and having that veteran team mediocre talent without anything to build with?
    What’s so bad about Gordon that makes you feel that he is not going to be with the hornets next year, do your homework first please, he is a RESTRICTED FA, if you need me to explain what that means I’ll be more than happy to do it.
    Lastly, why are you quoting that Cuban was saying? The only reason he said that is because he now realized that he won’t be able to land any of the top 3 FAs next year.

    Please really do some homework before you are going to write a bias article for my team.

    • Chris says

      Local writers are entitled to their opinion. I am entitled to mine, as tou are to yours.

      I would not pay money to watch the current Hornets team play, even if they were entirely healthy. I would pay money to watch a team that was competing for a playoff spot, even if it was a first-round exit. My team is the Sixers, so I know a little about first-round exits.

      You say two first-round exits next two years, OK. That’s two years that come off the contracts of Okafor (who has the worst deal of them all), Scola and Martin. (Odom can be bought out after this year is desired.) So you remain competitive – which attracts free agents – and reload. And you’re picking mid-first round, where if you scout well you can find a player. Wasn’t David West middle of the first round?

      Just like opinions, some people like to build through the draft while I would rather chase a known quantity of an established player. The draft is such a crapshoot. Oden or Durant? That was a serious conversation at one time. Jimmer Fredette ninth? Gimme a break.

      As I mentioned in another reply, I wrote that Gordon is RFA. He surely could sign an extension this summer. Or he could take the qualifying offer and walk in 2013 because winning and stability is more important. Keep in mind he has a very good agent who knows how to negotiate and force teams’ hands.

      I included the Cuban quote because he was speaking directly about Stern’s handling of the entire situation. And I wouldn’t be too sure about what he gets or doesn’t get this summer. Unlike New Orleans, Dallas is a place guys want to play.

      What I did notice was that no one who commented here touched on Stern and Sperling being disingenuously optimistic or the Hornets being less than truthful about the extent of Gordon’s injury (or admitting that their doctors are quacks). I shouldn’t have to remind Nawlins folks that Tom Benson once threatened to move the Saints and Gary Chouest has been threatening to buy the Hornets longer than I’ve been threatening to quit smoking.

      If I were a Hornets fan, I would feel like I’ve been sold down the river. But that’s me.

      Good luck with your team. Most important, thanks for reading.

      • Joe says

        Appreciate the reply, “And you’re picking mid-first round, where if you scout well you can find a player. Wasn’t David West middle of the first round?” in the article you dismissed the importance of the draft, and now you are going to bring up David West? If we can a West in mid first why can’t we get a quality player in top 5?

        Like you said everyone has their own opinion, but I as a fan would definiately rather to build something special with 2 lottos than having to see them get knocked out in the playoffs.

        Once again, thanks for the reply, have a good day.

        • Dimitrix says

          I find your opinion shallow and based solely on emotion. Chris has given an educated and detailed response and you have reacted like a child who is being told that Santa does not exist.
          The Hornets are an absolute joke, I would put them as second worst (Charlotte stink up a storm). Chris is spot on in stating that two first-round exits equal two years off of Emeka, Scola and Martin’s contracts. Look at Elton Brand fleeing the Clips for a so-so 76ers team, or Baron Davis jumping ship from Golden State to the Clippers. Superstars decisions are based on many things, and current success vs. potential success definitely plays a part of it (disregard LeBron James moving to Miami, that is a one-off).
          As for Eric Gordon, if he gets healthy and has a great next season, why wouldn’t he leave a failing team? His only concern is health and that is the only reason why he would sign a long-term deal in NO. DID YOU SEE THE PHOTO OF KAMAN, GORDON AND AMINU AT THE N.O. INTRODUCTION CONFERENCE?

          Don’t mistake your blindness for passion, it is stubborn and immature.

          • Joe says

            DID YOU SEE WAHT THOSE GUYS TWEETED AFTER THEY SAW THE PICTURE? Okay we get 2 first round exits what’s next for us? Getting mid firsts and try to go from there? Are you kidding. What the clips we are getting to lottos already with Potentially Kaman deal getting us the 3 first round pick, why waste 2 years and start rebuilding, about Okafors deal, hornets havens use their amnesty clause last year.

            It’s a debate, has NOTHING to do with being immature, don’t act like you are outsmarting other people.

          • Joe says

            And my bad for the spell checks, I was in a hurry plus this iPhone correction hasn’t done anything for me.

      • says


        I was one of the authors of the rebuttal that you read. I am glad you took the time to read it.

        A few points on some of your comments:

        1. I think you really overstate the chances of Gordon taking the QO this year. He is 23 and has been injured almost every year in the league, and this is his first contract after his rookie year. I think the odds of him risking a ton of long-term money to play for just 5.3 million just to get out of New Orleans are extremely slim. Simply put, if the Hornets decide they want him, they can likely have him.
        2. Tom Benson did look into moving the Saints, in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina when 60% of the population was displaced. Since then the Saints have signed a long-term lease with the State and Benson himself has purchased a local television station and large office building next to the Superdome and New Orleans Arena. He also helped develop and entertainment area directly adjacent to the Dome that would benefit from a thriving Hornets team. His interests are firmly entrenched in New Orleans now.
        3. Gary Chouest did not buy the Hornets from George Shinn because he did not want to take on all the personal debt that he would have inherited from Shinn. That was the deal-breaker. Shinn selling the team to the NBA eliminated that problem and Chouest submitted a proposal to buy the team once the NBA started accepting bids after the CBA was completed. The reason his name has been floating around for as long as it has is simply because he was and remains interested.

        I have no issue with you believing that making the playoffs for a few years is a better course of action than a rebuilding project. I feel like most would tend to think it is better to start from scratch, but to each his own. My personal opinion is that if you’re goal is not to win an NBA championship, than what is the point? I do have a problem with a lack of research and fallacies in your article.


  1. […] Marco Belinelli made a career-high six 3-pointers and scored a season-high 22 points to lead the Hornets to a 92-89 victory over Milwaukee. The Bucks have lost three straight and six of eight. Chris Kaman added 18 points and 10 rebounds for New Orleans, which had lost eight in a row and 17 of 18 before beating Utah on Monday. If you missed it, Chris Bernucca wrote a succinct column on how the infamous David Stern veto has im… […]

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