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The New Orleans Hornets: Time For An Overhaul

By Lonny Devine

I have watched in anguish as my beloved Charlotte Hornets transformed from a perennial playoff team to one muddled in ownership and management strive that resulted it the franchise relocation to New Orleans, where they have become the laughing stock of the NBA.  Although the result has been a double edge sword: I am on one hand delighted about the team’s embarrassing performance out of spite for my hatred for owner George Shinn; but depressed since I remain loyal as a Hornets fan.      

The Hornets are languishing at the NBA cellar with a pathetic 2 wins and 21 losses.  In comparison, the expansion Charlotte Bobcats have looked like a championship contender with their 6 victories.  How sad and disheartened the Hornets players and fans must feel.  Sure, everybody expected the Hornet’s play to be less effective in their new Western Conference, but this has even exceeded the lowest of all expectations. 

The Hornets are suffering because of an injury epidemic that has plagued the club.  They have lost their two best players, all-star point guard, Baron Davis and all-star center, Jamaal Magloire to early season injuries.  Tack on, the season-ending surgery endured by all-star forward, Jamaal Mashburn, and you have the Hornet’s recipe for a disastrous season.

But I argue, that even with these players in the lineup, the Hornets would still be a bad team in the conference, although they would have a few more wins.  Which is why management should start rebuilding NOW!!! 

While it is true that Davis and Magloire represent rising stars in the game, they have been increasingly disgruntled in their tenure with the team.  This all began during the preseason when they were banned from allowing their personal trainers into the training complex – a rule imposed by new coach Byron Scott.  Though, thinking they were above the team’s rule, they continued to let their own trainers into the complex, which resulted in some team fines.  Although I was a big fan of these two players, their actions spoke volumes about the selfish nature of their character.  It is a team game, and if they weren’t prepared to follow the team-concept, then you’ve got to get rid of them before they infect everybody in the locker room. 

I have great respect and admiration for David Wesley and P.J. Brown, two longtime Hornets.  They have been there through the good times and bad times of the franchise, and have a special place in my heart, but for the sake of the team’s future, you’ve got to trade them while their value is relatively high.  Wesley is 35 years old, Brown is 34 years old, age is starting to take their toll on these tough players, and it hasn’t been more evident than this year.  Wesley, who should easily have risen to become the team’s go-to scorer in lieu of the Davis and Magloire injuries, have instead faded to near non-existence.  He is averaging only 13.3 points a game, and that is behind journeyman Lee Nailon.  Brown is not the intimidating interior presence he once was.  His lateral quickness and endurance has faded.           

Its true, once Davis, Magloire, Wesley, and Brown are removed from the roster, there are really no one else prominent there.  Management should commit to a rebuilding project where it may take 2-3 seasons before any visible results can be seen.  By trading away these players, the Hornets should be able to acquire some young role players and draft picks, but most importantly, they will save significant money – Davis has about $70-million and 5-years left on his contract; Brown has $24-million and 3 years; Wesley has about $9-million and two years, and Magloire consumes his fair chunk – although I could not find terms of his contract extension.  By shedding away salary space, the Hornets will be well positioned to find a marquee free agent during the summer, and at the same time, give minutes to its young players, notably David West and J.R. Smith.

Barring a miraculous turnaround, the Hornets will have to endure the sufferings of the season and conjure up some motivation to make their terrible season respectable in any sense they can.  As a realist, I do know that the Hornets season is essentially over, but if management has any foresight whatsoever, they will begin the rebuilding process RIGHT NOW!!!



Name: Lonny Devine

Age: 45

Location: Charlotte, North Carolina

Occupation: Farmer

Favorite Team: New Orleans Hornets/Charlotte Bobcats

Favorite Former Player: Wes Unseld

Favorite Current Player: Tim Duncan

Most Hated Team: Boston Celtics

Most Hated Player: Ricky Davis

Prediction for Eastern Champs: Detroit Pistons

Prediction for Western Champs: San Antonio Spurs

Prediction for NBA Champs: San Antonio Spurs