Jul 29, 2010

Ready for Some Football?

All but one draft pick is signed, most if not all of the veteran additions have been made (most recently resigning DE Bobby McCray and signing QB Patrick Ramsey) and the Super Bowl celebrations can finally start winding down ... that's because football season is here! The Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints reported to camp today and will begin practicing tomorrow morning to start their quest to "Two Dat!"

The Saints are still picked as one of the top teams in the league. Sports Illustrated's Don Banks has them #2 in his rankings, Peter King has them #5 and ESPN has them #2. ESPN's ranking is odd since all the experts picked the Saints #1 except John Clayton, who ranked them 7th, yes 7th. Unbelievable, but what else would you expect from ESPN.

The good thing, as always, the NFL lets play on the field decide their champion (BCS, we're looking at you), so these rankings are just preseason fodder for fans.

A few positions that fans will have their eye on in camp is LB, backup QB and all the draft picks. The best battle will be to see who replaces Scott Fujita at linebacker, and the coaches seem excited about the young guys on the roster. Backup QB is interesting with Patrick Ramsey battling Chase Daniel and rookie Sean Canfield. As for the draft picks, fans will be most excited about watching TE Jimmy Graham, who is raw but will be fun to watch practice.

I just can't wait to see the boys in the Black and Gold take the field again, this time as the defending Super Bowl champion!

Jul 26, 2010

Chris Paul Meets with The Hornets

The most anticipated meeting in recent memory finally took place today between the Hornets and All Star point guard Chris Paul. Following weeks of rumors about the possibility of Paul being traded and behind the scenes trade demands, the two sides finally met and from the reports, the meeting went well.

Following the meeting, Paul released this statement:

The meeting went well. It was great to get an opportunity to sit down with Coach Williams, President Weber and our new general manager Dell Demps. I expressed my desire to win and I like what they said about the direction that they want to take the team. I have been a Hornet my entire career and I hope to represent the city of New Orleans and state of Louisiana for many years to come.

This could be a PR move and damage control or it could mean that the trade rumors and demands were blown out of proportion. ESPN was one that kept fueling the trade rumor fire and they love to keep stories like this going.

Or it could mean that Paul has no leverage right now with 2 years left on his contract, so he has to toe the company line and give the Hornets a chance. This is far from over, but if the Hornets make some moves in free agency or with some trades and can get off to a fast start when the season begins, this will all be forgotten. Wins cure everything.

Jul 21, 2010

Hornets Get Their Man

The Hornets have hired Dell Demps to be the team's new general manager and from all accounts, it looks to be a good hire.

Demps, who previously worked for the Spurs, was coveted by both the Suns and Hornets. For a bit it looked like the Hornets would lose out on their #1 choice once again, as they did when they targeted Tom Thibodeau for head coach. Thibodeau went to Chicago instead and the Hornets settled for Monty Williams. This time it appears they landed their #1 guy and since the Suns fought so hard to get him too, Hornets fans should be pleased that they got a solid GM in place.

Now it remains to be seen how he'll be able to operate with a roster that needs upgrading and a shaky ownership situation. With star Chris Paul making noise in recent weeks, this is an important year for the Hornets to show that they can and will compete in the loaded Western Conference.

Jul 15, 2010

Braves Make a Move for the Playoff Push

On a normally quiet sports day (the day after the MLB All-Star Game), the Braves made some news by suring up a weak link in their lineup. Yesterday, the traded SS Yunel Escobar and P Jo Jo Reyes to Toronto for SS Alex Gonzalez and two prospects.

Escobar is a talented, young short stop and his presence allowed the Braves to trade now All-Star Elvis Andrus a few years ago, but Escobar is in the midst of his worst season ever with a .238 batting average and zero home runs. There's also been rumors for a couple of years that he has issues in the clubhouse, so the move isn't too surprising.

Alex Gonzalez is older, but he's having one of his better power hitting years. He is a great defensive short stop and with the Braves being built to win now, the Braves had to make the move. The two prospects they received, pitcher Tim Collins and SS Tyler Pastornicky, also have promising futures. Everything I've seen on the trade has praised the Braves for the move.

On another note, a belated congratulations to Braves catcher Brian McCann for winning the All-Star MVP!

Hornets Part Ways with GM Jeff Bower

The Hornets and GM Jeff Bower have decided to part ways and now the Hornets are searching for a replacement general manager. Many fans are excited about the move, especially with all the rumor and speculation surrounding Chris Paul. It's too early to tell if this change will help the Hornets retain Paul long-term, but it can't hurt.

In recent years, the Hornets haven't made the best personnel moves and are now strapped with bad contracts and not great depth on the bench. It was clear that changes needed to be made.

Rumors are flowing about who will replace Bower and many fans are hoping that former Portland GM Kevin Pritchard gets the job. Pritchard would bring a more aggressive approach, as in recent years he was a master at working the draft by moving around and acquiring more selections. The Hornets, in recent years, seemed more likely to trade out of the draft completely than to make a good move.

Bower always seemed to have a better reputation outside of New Orleans than he did here. He got fans excited with guys like Peja Stojakovic, Emeka Okafor and James Posey, but those same guys are the ones who's contracts are hurting the team now.

Chris Paul has made it known that he wants to win and wants to win now. Hopefully this change will allow the team to make some moves and keep the team competitive enough to keep CP3 excited about playing in the Big Easy for the long term.