Live From Hornets Media Day
Hornets media day is today, signaling the start of training camp and the return of competitive basketball to our daily lives. The team goes into the start of camp with 18 players trying to fill out 15 regular season roster spots.
If you have any questions for the players or coaches (preferably not Paul since I’m sure he will be swamped), ask in the comments and I’ll try to get an answer as soon as possible.
Before things get too hectic around here, let’s start by looking at the Hornets current training camp roster:
NO. PLAYER POS HT DOB FROM YRS
11 Joe Alexander F 6-8 12/26/1986 West Virginia 2
1 Trevor Ariza G-F 6-8 06/30/1985 UCLA 6
8 Marco Belinelli G 6-5 03/25/1986 Bologna, Italy 3
34 Aaron Gray C 7-0 12/07/1984 Pittsburgh 3
33 Willie Green G 6-3 07/28/1981 Detroit Mercy 7
44 Pops Mensah-Bonsu F 6-9 09/07/1983 George Washington 3
50 Emeka Okafor F-C 6-10 09/28/1982 Connecticut 6
2 Jannero Pargo G 6-1 10/22/1979 Arkansas 7
3 Chris Paul G 6-0 05/06/1985 Wake Forest 5
20 Quincy Pondexter F 6-6 03/10/1988 Washington R
22 Mustafa Shakur G 6-4 08/18/1984 Arizona R
14 Jason Smith F-C 7-0 03/02/1986 Colorado State 2
16 Peja Stojakovic F 6-10 06/09/1977 Belgrade, Serbia 12
23 D.J. Strawberry G 6-5 06/15/1985 Maryland 1
5 Marcus Thornton G 6-4 06/05/1987 Louisiana State 1
21 Michael Washington F-C 6-9 10/02/1986 Arkansas R
31 Darryl Watkins C 6-11 11/08/1984 Syracuse 1
30 David West F 6-9 08/29/1980 Xavier (Ohio) 7
Head Coach- Monty Williams
Lead Assistant- Mickael Malone
Assistant Coaches- Randy Ayers, James Borrego, Bryan Gates, Fred Vinson
Players essentially guaranteed a roster spot- Chris Paul, David West, Emeka Okafor, Marcus Thornton, Trevor Ariza, Quincy Pondexter, Aaron Gray, Peja, Marco Belinelli, Willie Green, Jannero Pargo, Jason Smith.
There is possibly one guard spot left on the team behind Paul, Thornton, Green, Pargo, and Belinelli. DJ Strawberry and Mustafa Shakur will both be fighting hard in the next few weeks to prove they are worthy of it, but if neither shines I wouldn’t expect the team to bring either one on. Pondexter can slide to the two if needed (at least defensively) and five guards is more than enough if Paul plays the 38 minutes he’s been accustomed to.
As for the big men, the team returns only West, Okafor and Gray, and although Jason Smith (and his guaranteed contract) is a near certainty to remain on the roster, there are spots to be filled. Daryl Watkins, Michael Washington, and Pops Mensah-Bonsu will all be competing for one or two sports depending on how well they perform.
Filling out the list of those who need to prove something to make the team, Joe Alexander (and his partially guaranteed contract) stands a shot of making the roster if he can show that his injury from last season isn’t lingering, and that he still has the talent that made him the eighth pick in the 2008 draft. He’s athletically gifted, but he hasn’t made many believers, which explains why the Bucks cut him.
It appears that assistant coach Robert Pack will not be returning to the team, despite his role in developing rookies Marcus Thornton and Darren Collison. Count me among the disappointed, but if cleaning house is what Monty Williams thinks this team needs, then that’s what had to be done.
Just saw Aaron Gray. Sadly, it appears that JCS will no longer be able to make Hamburgler jokes. He’s noticeably slimmer, and appears to have taken his offseason conditioning very seriously.
Quick notes from David West’s talk with the media. Asked about the teams chances of competing he said “We need to be realistic”. To clarify he said that there are 4 or 5 elite teams and that clearly the Hornets are not one of them. He went on to further say that the team needed to solidify their spot as a top 10 team in the West before they can even begin to talk about anything else. He didn’t seem frustrated by the rebuild and said that Monty Williams has been very honest about the rebuilding process. West said, “if things were going well [Monty] wouldn’t be here”.
Asked about whether or not he would be frustrated by the team’s losing ways, it appeared that he was fine with it, especially now that everyone is being honest. To be fair, West never seemed like the kind of guy to complain about his situation so nobody seemed to expect a much different reaction. Clearly the team is trying to improve.
Dell Demps had some interesting things to say. First of all he said it’s a rebuilding process and that the team is going to focus on development more than in the past (no surprise considering in the past there has been almost no development to speak of). Asked about David West saying that they weren’t in the top 10 in the West, he laughed and remarked “I sure hope [we are], aren’t there only 15 teams?” He made reference to having Chris Paul and David West, hinting that with those two guys the team really should be in the top 10.
He talked about competition in camp and how spots will be won on the court. It’s clear he wants to make players work hard in camp this year, and hopefully that will let them avoid avoid slumping out of the gate like last year. As Ryan said, it’s going to be a tough start, so coming out hot is key.
Chris Paul was being interviewed and was repeatedly asked to clarify his stance on his happiness in New Orleans. First he answered. “I’m ready to play.” Asked to clarify on whether or not he was happy, he stated “Yes. I’m happy here.”
He does always say the right things.
Jannero Pargo sounds thrilled to be back in New Orleans. He wouldn’t discuss last year and the reason why he wound up with the Bulls instead of the Hornets. Also he shrugged off a question about his last shot.
Emeka Okafor was traveling this summer, spending time in Singapore (where he loved the food) among other places. He talked a little about last year and how the situation was “awkward”. He elaborated that the missing training camp, changing coaches and injuries made it difficult. He acknowledged the teams struggles on the defensive end, but seemed optimistic that this year would be different.
Always a fun guy to talk to, Emeka said a little more about how the energy in the locker room seems different this year with so many young guys around. He said everyone seems excited. They are going to need that energy this year in a tough Western Conference.
Lastly, he discussed his desire to get to the playoffs (he’s still never been) and his disappointment with last year, specifically with injuries. It was clear he thought that team was going to make the playoffs and the injuries that derailed that train were upsetting to him.
Monty Williams had some stuff to say about the team, especially on defense. I’ll get a full length post up when I can transcribe the audio but I found his take on players not being in the right mindset on defense particularly interesting. In short- if they don’t have the right mindset, they are on the wrong team.
That appears to be it. Lots of people asking stuff and not much time.