New Orleans has seen their NBA franchise face lifted a countless number of times over the last few years. Not only have the Hornets had a substantial amount of player turnover, but the ownership of the team has shifted as well, including a brief stint being owned by the league that redefined the term “conflict of interest.”
The Hornets watched their All-Star point guard Chris Paul leave for the bright lights of L.A. and only got bits and pieces in return. They would have gotten a better deal, except the NBA vetoed the trade that brought Pau Gasol to New Orleans.
It’s been a wild ride, but the path finally seems to be straightening out.
The Hornets hit the jackpot when they won the Draft Lottery this past summer, allowing them to draft one of the best prospects in years, Anthony Davis. With their second lottery pick, they selected Austin Rivers, a guy who had some inconsistent play at Duke but has unquestionable talent. They also matched the four-year, $58 million offer sheet to restricted free agent Eric Gordon, who can be a big time player if he is able to bounce back from his knee injury.
Basically, the Hornets are a young team on the rise. They’ve found the right guy to lead the team in head coach Monty Williams and they have an amazing core to build on. This team isn’t ready to win right away, especially in such a stacked Western Conference, but in a few years, if things fall the right way, they could be one of the top teams. Williams has a very realistic view of where his Hornets team is headed.
"[New Orleans General Manager Dell Demps] and I talk a lot about the roster and where do we see ourselves in the future," Williams said. "It's been set up in a way that it gives us even more flexibility next summer to spend some money. Then once we spend that money next summer, I'm thinking 'That's our team.' We have a great foundation and I think it's set. The guys are so young I don't want to put that kind of pressure on them and say 'We're going to do this.' Those guys need to figure it out. Next summer, you give Austin and Anthony a year under their belt, and we go out and spend some money and find another player, that team needs time to gel. You ain't going to just put it together and think it's going to work. With young guys, we're teaching again. That's a tough spot. We've got some guys who know things, but for the most part, our foundation, we're teaching those guys everything right now. We think we can win while we're teaching because we have high-talent, high-level guys, but it can be hard."
Look for the Hornets to go through a few growing pains this year, but I fully expect Davis to take the rookie of the year award and set the stage for great things to come.