Jun 28, 2010

Sean Payton: "Home Team"

My next book purchase? Definitely, "Home Team" by New Orleans Saints Coach Sean Payton. Everything I've read so far about the book gives it high praise. Of course any Saints fan will love to get a peak behind the curtain and learn what their team's head coach is thinking. Want a taste of what's included in the book? Check out the Times-Picayune's 10 Memorable Quotes. I'll be sure to put up my thoughts after I get a chance to read it.

Hornets Draft Recap

The New Orleans Hornets didn't sit back quietly with their one draft pick last Thursday. They decided that two is better than one and turned the #11 pick into two first rounders and shed a bad contract in the process.

At #11, the Hornets took center Cole Aldrich from Kansas. I was pleased with the pick, but we soon learned that Aldrich would be heading the Hornets former, temporary home of Oklahoma City. Initially, the reports were that the deal was for picks 18 and 21, but it turned out to be for picks 21 and 26. The Hornets also shed some cap space and sent the disappointing Morris Peterson to the Thunder as well. Peterson was signed a few years ago as a free agent, one that the Hornets coveted for a few years, but he never panned out in the Big Easy.

With their newly acquired picks, the Hornets took forward Craig Brackins of Iowa State and forward Quincy Pondexter of Washington. I don't know much about either player, but both should be able to contribute right away.

All in all, it was a good night for the Hornets. They got two young players that could give them solid minutes this year and shed a contract, making them able to be active in free agency.

Jun 24, 2010

NBA Draft Day

Happy NBA Draft Day! Growing up, I was a big basketball fan, but then again that was when we were watching guys like Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Clyde Drexler, Dominique Wilkins, Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, Shawn Kemp, Hakeem Olajuwan, Patrick Ewing, John Stockton, and on and on and on. In other words, the NBA was in great hands and fans ate it up.

Anyway, I'm less of an NBA fan nowadays, but I do follow the Hornets and enjoy having a local team to follow. Over the years, the NBA Draft has slacked off as a must see event, but I still enjoy watching it (I enjoy any draft though).

The trouble in recent years is that fans don't know most of the players. With all the high school, one-and-done college and international players, fans didn't have a chance to learn about the new prospects. At least now, there aren't high schoolers in the draft, but that doesn't mean I'll know a whole lot of the players picked. But who cares, the NBA Draft is a good time. There's the pundits drooling over upside and length, the crazy suits, the international guys picked late in the 2nd round who happen to be in the audience and they make their way to the stage for a photo with the deputy commissioner, even though they are the 51st pick. What's not to love?

Anyway, the Hornets pick 11th and could go in many different directions, including trading Chris Paul. I'd put the likelihood of a Chris Paul trade at about 1 percent, but there could be some moves involving the Hornets whether its trading down (please don't trade completely out of the draft for financial reasons), getting rid of some contracts like Peja, Mo Peete or Emeke Okafor (I know Okafor is due a lot of $, but I'd like to see him stay), trading away backup point guard Darren Collison ... or some combination of all of these.

If the Hornets stay pat at #11, here's a look at what a few mock drafts have them doing:

Jun 23, 2010

Chris Paul on the Trading Block?

No way the Hornets would ever consider moving Chris Paul, right? He's the face of the franchise and the main reason the Hornets have had any success since they moved to NOLA. Well, don't get too attached to him now because I can definitely see scenarios where CP3 is traded.

Rumors have been rampart for a few weeks now and with the NBA Draft taking place tomorrow night, there's a chance that by Friday, Paul will no longer be a Hornet. How can this be, you might say? Consider this, the Hornets are in clear rebuilding mode. Last year, the GM took over as head coach. Now they have a 1st time NBA head coach in Monty Williams, who is also the youngest NBA coach in the league. CP3 has made it clear that while he wants to stay in NOLA, he wants to play for a winner more. So this whole rebuilding thing isn't for him.

Then, take a look at last season, Paul missed half the season with injuries. Rookie Darren Collison filled in and did a great job, especially for a rookie (And if they don't move Paul, Collison is the next valuable asset that could be traded). While Collison's no Chris Paul, he did average 12.5 points and 5.7 assists per game, and those numbers are surely to only improve with more experience.

The last thing to consider is that Paul only has two more years on his contract. That's something big to consider. His trade stock would only diminish the longer the Hornets hold onto him, since the closer he gets to free agency, teams will just wait until he hits the open market. With the Hornets ownership situation in limbo, the team may have to take Paul's contract into consideration. Can they even afford to pay him for his last two years of his deal? Then you have to look at what CP3 will do when his contract is up. If the Hornets have two more seasons of sub-40 win seasons and miss the playoffs, why would Paul want to stay? Let's even consider that they do make the playoffs in the next two years, are they better than the 6th or 7th seed in the loaded West? Being bounced in the 1st round surely wouldn't entice CP3 to want to hang around the Big Easy much longer.

So all this leads to the Hornets listening to offers for their franchise player. Fans won't like a trade involving Chris Paul, but it's better to get something for him now (and offers have included the #3 pick in this year's draft), and plan for the future.

Jun 22, 2010

Saints Cut Bobby McCray

In a surprising move, the Saints cut DE Bobby McCray yesterday. I was initially caught by surprise, but after reading more about McCray, I'm starting to understand it more.

This is not to label McCray as a bad guy at all, but there were reports that he was late for meetings a few times and missed assignments on the field. Pair that with the Saints signing veteran ends Alex Brown and Jimmy Wilkerson, and McCray's one-note pass rushing was no longer a top need for the team. Since he was due a roster bonus soon, the Saints decided to part ways with him.

Depth and competition is always a good thing for a football team, but who am I to question this Saints front office? They've pushed all the right buttons over the past couple of years and brought the city its first Super Bowl championship. I just hope that they aren't thinking they are better than they are and are just making moves because "we're the Saints and we won the Super Bowl, so we know best." If they feel that departing with Bobby McCray was the best thing for the football team at this point, than I'm cool with it.

Good luck elsewhere Bobby and thank you for your great hits on Kurt Warner and Brett Favre in last year's playoffs.

Jun 21, 2010

Saints Trade Jammal Brown to Redskins

The Saints have traded Pro Bowl left tackle Jammal Brown to the Washington Redskins. The return compensation is complicated, to say the least. The Saints will receive either a 3rd or 4th round pick and possible a 6th rounder in 2012 based on playing time or if Brown goes to the Pro Bowl. The 3rd or 4th rounder is tied to the Donovan McNabb deal, so if the Eagles end up with Washington's 3rd rounder, the Saints get the 4th and will send a 6th or 7th round pick back to D.C. If the Eagles get a 4th, then the Saints get the 3rd and will send a 5th rounder back. Clear as mud right?

Basically, the best thing for the Saints is for the Redskins to have a bad season, but Jamaal Brown to play great. Then they'd get a 3rd and 6th the following year for Brown and a 5th.

Many Saints fans think that Mickey Loomis got hosed in the deal, but I don't agree with them. Loomis was stuck with a disgruntled player who obviously wanted out. He lost his job to injury and missed out on the most historic season in franchise history, a season that proved the Saints would be fine without him. But decent left tackles are hard to come by, let alone a two-time Pro Bowl player so fans have inflated Brown's value.

There are a couple of issues here. Fans think players are worth more than they really are and there has to be a market for your players. Brown is coming off a season in the IR. No one really knows how he'll play after a year off, plus there have been rumblings ever since he got to New Orleans that his knees were shot and he wouldn't have a long NFL career. Along with his refusal to participate or sign his tender, the Saints decided to get rid of a distraction and get what they could for him. NFL teams don't like giving up 1st or 2nd round picks, but if they get the 3rd rounder, great. If its the 4th, great too.

I'm pleased with the deal. Brown wasn't in the long term plans for the Saints, especially after left tackle Charles Brown fell to them in the 2nd round this year. The Saints are set at tackle and have been good in the draft recently and now they have an earlier pick to work with next year.

Jun 17, 2010

It's Now Official

The last rubber stamp on the Saints Super Bowl win was taken care of last night when the team received their Super Bowl rings. It's hard to believe that in only a couple of months the Saints will be back on the field getting ready to "Two Dat" and repeat as Super Bowl champions. With their ceremony last night, the 2009-10 team can be put to rest and it's time to focus on the future.

But check out that ring. Who would have ever thought a Super Bowl ring would have the fleur-de-lis on it? For fans, the Lombardi Trophy is the ultimate prize in sports. That's true of players too, but you hear more players talk about getting a ring or how many rings does a guy have than the Lombardi. This is what the players play for and to read their quotes from the ceremony ... they were like little kids again. WHO DAT!

Jun 9, 2010

Hornets Introduce New Head Coach

Yesterday, the Hornets introduced their new head coach, Monty Williams. The good news is, he's the guy Chris Paul wanted all along. The bad news, he was the organizations second (or maybe worse) choice. We'll see how this turns out. Can't be any worse than having your GM decide he can coach (without prior head coaching experience) and taking over the job.