NBA AM: Hornets Take The Tenth Pick Off Market?
Hornets Reverse Course, Won’t Deal Tenth Pick? Fresh off a lackluster season driven by the departure of All-Star point guard Chris Paul to Los Angeles, the past month or so must rank as an exciting time for New Orleans Hornets fans. The team introduced a new team owner who quickly promised to get the franchise back to relevancy and the organization currently owns the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft.
The draft will be held on June 28 and unless something monumental happens before then the team will likely select former University of Kentucky standout Anthony Davis with the top overall selection.
The team also owns the No. 10 overall pick, but have been rumored over the past few weeks to be shopping the selection around the league for a shooting guard with the condition of the receiving club also taking on the remaining contracts of either center Emeka Okafor (two years, $28 million) or small forward Trevor Ariza (two years, $15 million).
Without a serious taker, the team is now positioning themselves to keep the selection and take the best available player according to general manager Dell Demps.
“With this draft class, I really like the 10th position,’’ Demps said to John Reid of the Times Picayune. “We’re going to look at the best available player, and I think we can get any position. I think we’re going to get a good player in here.’’
It appears the Hornets are prepared to draft a guard to bolster their backcourt depth.
The Hornets are scheduled to work out point guard Kendall Marshall who played collegiately at the University of North Carolina this weekend. Marshall is widely considered the second best point guard talent in the draft behind Weber State’s Damian Lillard.
New Orleans has also worked out Washington’s Terrence Ross, Duke’s Austin Rivers and UCONN’s Jeremy Lamb – all guards – recently.
Head coach Monty Williams and Rivers’ father (Boston Celtics head coach) Doc Rivers maintain a very close relationship which has led speculation the Hornets would invest the tenth pick on the early entrant if he’s still on the board.
The Hornets finished the season 21-45 and missed the playoffs for the second time in the last three years.
Oklahoma City’s Eric Maynor Not Taking Moment For Granted: The Oklahoma City are poised to rank amongst the league’s elite for the foreseeable future led by All-Stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. It’s not hard to see why most think that way since the team knocked off perennial Western Conference powerhouses, Los Angeles (Lakers), Dallas and San Antonio in order to reach this year’s Finals.
But third year point guard Eric Maynor believes the team cannot take anything for granted and shouldn’t be impressed by their press clippings.
“I know we’re here right now [in the Finals] so we’ve got to take advantage of what we’re doing right now,” Maynor told HOOPSWORLD. “We can’t say where we’re supposed to be every year because nothing is guaranteed. We’re going to play these games, try to win this championship because next year we have to put in the same work we did this year and putting in that work will get you to this position. Like I said, you’ve got to put in the work every day.”
The Thunder currently are in a position no team in NBA history has managed to overcome in the Finals – successfully overcoming a 3-1 series deficit.
“I think everybody understands it,” Maynor said about the importance of seizing the moment. “It’s not easy getting here and you have guys go through the NBA, 10, 15 years that don’t even sniff the NBA Finals, the Western, Eastern Conference Finals and we’re in the finals. We were in the Western Conference Finals last year but its hard work though and there’s nothing going to be given to you and now we know how hard it is to win a NBA Finals game, let alone to just be here. It’s hard to win and it’s hard to play here. You’ve got to put the work in.”
Maynor, who appeared in only nine contests before suffering a season ending knee injury, has morphed into one the team’s quasi coaches from the sidelines offering support for his teammates. But the inability to play has undoubtedly been tough to endure.
“It’s tough to a certain extent,” Maynor confirmed. “I just have to stay strong about it. I’m trying to. I can’t get out there so I’m just trying to put my input in here and there. The stuff I see, I’m just trying to still be a leader, stuff like that. It’s pretty tough though.”
Game five is set for Thursday night in Miami. If the Thunder can stave off eliminations games six and seven (if necessary) will be in Oklahoma City.
Knicks Eyeing Pablo Prigioni to Fill Point Guard Depth? One of the weaknesses most experts widely peg as hindering the New York Knicks’ rise up the standings is at the point guard position. The common belief is the team needs an established floor general to be the sticking glue in the Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony tag team.
The Knicks’ first choice would be the emerging Jeremy Lin who took the league by storm this year before suffering a season ending knee injury. However Lin’s future with the team is uncertain as an arbitrator currently decides whether his Bird rights are to be restored which would put the Knicks in a more favorable position to re-sign him this summer.
With the case in the air, the Knicks have gone the international route to potentially fill their backcourt depth. Spanish League veteran Pablo Prigioni reportedly met with Knicks officials last week for a couple days discussing a potential NBA career. Prigioni served as the lead point guard on Argentina’s gold medal winning Olympic team in 2004.
Walter Szczerbiak, the former United States ambassador to the Spanish League, feels Prigioni is NBA ready and ready to make contributions from day one.
“I’m pretty sure he’d be better than a lot of young point guards in the NBA you get,’’ Szczerbiak told Marc Berman of The New York Post. “He’s really been through the wars. Spain is a real pressure cooker. Every game is playoff intensity. The NBA, it’s more in the playoffs. He has great experience in tough situations and he’s a good leader.’’
Prigioni has never played a NBA game but the Knicks have had interest in the veteran dating back to 2009 when they tried to sign him after failing to land Ramon Sessions in free agency. Despite Prigioni’s advanced age, Szczerbiak feels the long time Spanish League player has more left in the tank.
“He’s 35, but he has a great body,’’ Szczerbiak. “I’m sure he’s slowed down a little, but he’s still got pretty good quickness. For 35, he’s got the right kind of body — wiry, never been overweight. He’s like Steve Nash that way. You’d think he was younger than 35 the way he looks.’’
The Knicks are expected to be active this summer solidifying their backcourt with Iman Shumpert on the mend following knee surgery, J.R. Smith expected to opt out of his deal in order to test free agency and the uncertainty of Lin’s free agent status. This would leave the seldom used and much maligned Toney Douglas as the only available Knick on the roster that would be healthy to play opening today.
According to a report by the Charlotte Observer, the Charlotte Bobcats will change their uniform colors and shorten the nickname appearing on their uniforms next season.
The uniforms will feature more “Carolina Blue” and move away from the orange which has dominated uniforms of the past. You can find a picture of the new look HERE.
Charlotte will also shorten their nickname on white home jerseys from “Bobcats” to just simply reflect “Cats.” The standard blue road jerseys will continue to read “Charlotte.”
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