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How the Hornets can rebuild in five easy steps from the Chris Paul trade

Dec 15, 2011, 3:02 AM EDT

Dell Demps AP

Are you a small market franchise that just lost the best player in franchise istory? Trying to understand how to move on after losing the best player to ever don your laundry? Are you the New Orleans Hornets?

Then have no fear! I’m here to show you the road to redemption in five easy steps. You, yes you can be back in the playoffs and hunting a title within three seasons. All you have to do is follow my easy recipe and send $49.99 to P.O. Box… what’s that? You need the money to cover the massive deficiency in sold tickets you’re going to suffer through now? OK, how about I drop some knowledge for free?

Step 1: Take a deep breath. OK, so the league just pushed you into trading the best player you’ve ever had for a good young player and a bunch of flotsam (no offense, promising young wing Al-Farouq Aminu). You may be tempted to start throwing some money out to fill the roster and try and compete. You may want to see if you can move a player for more. But take a step back. This is not the time for rash decisions. It’s like a breakup. You need to see if you can live on your own. Take your time and see what you do and don’t want from this relationship with the new players. Rushing into decisions maks a bad situation worse. Rebound relationships are bad, unless it’s actually rebounding, but even then, not like that’s going to save you.

Step 2: Determine what identity you want… two years from now. Don’t look at the team you have and try and determine what the goal is, because that’s like looking at a pile of wood and trying to figure out what kind of cabinets you’re going to get. Build the house first. But have in mind that you do want nice cabinets and you need to build the kitchen accordingly. A fast team? A slow team? A balanced team? Dangerous offense? Grind-it-out defense? Young and athletic? Veteran and experienced (hint: you don’t want to go that route)? Identify what you think makes a winner and gear your team in that direction.

Step 3: Clean the books no matter the win cost. Emeka Okafor has to go. Jarrett Jack has to go. There is no value to any player with a contract of any size. They have to go at some point. Bring in a D-Leaguer if you have to. Bring in whoever you need. But everything must go. You want a clean slate. Your coach will hate it, but this is part of it. There can be no big deals, no wasteful spending. You’re going to be terrible you might as well get the value for it. e

Step 4: The Draft is the key. The Hornets have a chance at two top-ten picks in the best draft class since 2003. They can remake their team if they get a top 3 pick and a pick between 7 and 12. There is virtually no chance the Wolves do better than that. Take the best player available that fits with the plan from Step 2. Want defense? Get Anthony Davis. Think you need a lockdown wing? MKG. Want a small forward who can fill it up? Harrison Barnes. Think center is the most important position? Draft Andre Drummond and then send him to the D-League for three years to lift weights. This draft class is your salvation. Combine it with Gordon and go forward.

Step 5: Let it grow organically. Don’t rush things. Sam Presti had plenty of opportunities to go after big name, big price free agents and trade assets, but he didn’t do it. He bided his time until his move was just right, acquiring the big man the Thunder thought they needed, then they swung. They caught Dirk on a bad year. But by not running into big contracts for veterans early to “get them over the hump,” they have the ability to re-sign all their young stud players and continue to build a supporting system. That’s how it’s done.

There’s a future in New Orleans. You just have to go out and get it.

  1. eaglessuperfan - Dec 15, 2011 at 4:09 AM

    If I was the NBA I would post this in the Hornets GM’s office and tell him to read it every day.

    • goforthanddie - Dec 15, 2011 at 4:35 AM

      Why? It’s not like NOs GM has any authority.

  2. goforthanddie - Dec 15, 2011 at 4:34 AM

    So, throw the season? I’m sure the NO fans don’t mind getting sh@t on again.

    • amirfigueroa - Dec 15, 2011 at 7:25 AM

      they still have the Saints #shrug

    • raidmagic - Dec 15, 2011 at 8:07 AM

      I don’t know that throwing the season would be the right term. They are and have to build for the future. As a Magic fan I’ve been through this before and it appears we are headed to it again. I’d rather have the team suck for a year or two while they put the pieces in place to become good again rather than trade and make a bunch of knee jerk reactions and set the franchise back 5 years.

  3. Chris Fiorentino - Dec 15, 2011 at 9:12 AM

    Holy Crap…this entire post is exactly what I have posted about 5 different times on all the threads from Kurt with his whining about how the league screwed over the Lackers because their trade was sooooo much better. It’s almost word for freaking word what I have said and have gotten killed for it around here every time. But that’s OK though…I’m in it for the knowledge transfer and not for the accolades.

    • themanchine - Dec 15, 2011 at 11:12 AM

      “I’m in it for the knowledge transfer and not for the accolades”

      Yet you just seeked accolades….

      • Chris Fiorentino - Dec 15, 2011 at 12:25 PM

        Actually, I sought them :)

  4. Lucas Ottoni - Dec 15, 2011 at 10:11 AM


  5. alleymidas - Dec 15, 2011 at 10:18 AM


  6. khandor - Dec 15, 2011 at 12:46 PM

    Hi, Matt.

    * The best way to eventually build a legitimate contending team in New Orleans does not involve getting rid of a stalwart but-still-youngish veteran like Emeka Okafor. Okafor needs to be kept, as a prime example of how a real pro conducts himself on a day-to-day basis.

    * The Hornets have several players on their current roster with considerable upside: e.g. Aminu is eventually going to become a star player in the NBA; Gordon is already on the cusp of becoming a star player; Ariza [although limited] has already been a starter on a championship-winning team; Jason Smith is a versatile PF/C with excellent mobility and a good skill set; Eric Bledsoe and Marco Belinelli are already better than anybody who will be coming off the bench for the Clippers this season.

    * The two 1st Round Draft Picks who the Hornets will be getting in the 2012 NBA Draft will in all likelihood both be high-end Lottery Selections, in what’s reported to be a “stacked” draft class.

    If I actually had to choose between, either: A. The Clippers, or B. The Hornets, going forward from this point … I would, in fact, take the Hornets.

    After the abbreviated 2011-2012 season, the Hornets’ future is more sound than the Clippers.

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