Redfish Talk with Dell Demps

Published: February 23, 2011

The Hornets had an extended Chalk Talk scheduled for about 50 season ticket holders at the Bourbon House.  I went with my girlfriend and bumped into a couple I know from around Hornets-town. We both got the redfish, but the crab and corn bisque and the chocolate chunk bread pudding were the real show-stoppers.  Great food, fun conversation, casual attire, Bourbon Street, and the Hornets GM taking your questions 52 hours before the trade deadline . . . only in New Orleans!

The last time I did this, it went for 2 hours and there were informal questions answered following.  Bower told me in this informal session that David West loves elephants (for those who missed it).

When I got home to write this, Marcus was traded.  As a result, this is out a little later than I wanted, but I felt a little better about the event getting cut short as he was working, opinion of the work aside.

The punchline was that a trade is about 60-40, in favor, and the preferred structure is a guard going out and bench big coming in.  How about that?

Here is the summary in question order, with some consolidation:

Emeka: Emeka is a maybe for Wednesday, but they will hold him out if there is any issue at all with the oblique injury.  He is likely to return by Friday and is “definite” for Sunday.  The issue for the Hornets is that they do not want this to turn into a lingering injury.

Media Reports: Dell claims to have stopped talking to the media.  Some stories out there are true, others are not.  He’s being aggressive, but he cautions that everyone is both making and taking calls.

David West and Chris Paul in New Orleans: Dell doesn’t like to speak for people. Both said they want to be here and want to win.  He cautions that change can be sudden.  He is showing them their plan to win in actions and not just in words.  He called Chris, David, and Emeka our core.  He told a story about his arrival at Louis Armstrong International Airport prior to his first day at work, seeing a news story saying Chris wanted to be traded . . . then they showed his (Dell’s face).  A kid next to him looked a the screen, then at him, the screen, him, and angrily asked if he was going to trade Chris.  Cute.  He swears it’s true.  I kept picturing Arnold Drummond.

Hornets and the Tax Line: He said he arrived with a plan that Mr. Shinn and Mr. Chouest both approved.  He showed the NBA the same plan.  It was filled with contingencies.  None of them have been challenged.  He says he has no problem, and neither does the NBA, at going over the tax for a top 20 player, the kind of player that will put us in the championship hunt.  His initial mandate upon coming to New Orleans was fiscal responsibility, but that is trumped by bringing in a championship.

Player Voices in Moves: An emphatic “Yes!” was the response when asked if David West and Chris Paul have input in moves.

The Knee: Dell asked for an MRI of the knee after `the meeting’, and Chris complied.  He gets regular MRI’s, and the knee is on track.  He feels it takes 2 years for a player to return to pre-surgery level after these kinds of surgeries.  The issue is the strength of this quad muscles after bring inactive following the surgery.  The first year is largely about building trust in the knee.  Chris is fiercely committed to his rehab.  The knee brace was a request by the team to provide some insurance of sorts while the knee was healing.  Chris honored that request.  The knee brace is officially gone.

Ariza has issues?: Dell essentially dismissed a claim that Ariza has “issues,” which Monty allegedly said.

David West Contract: Dell explained that David’s declining contract value combined with rules governing extensions essentially made any extension unfair to David.  David has expressed happiness with New Orleans.  Dell hesitated to say it would be easy to sign him, saying that nothing is easy, but he indicated that both parties would like a deal to be worked out here.

Will There Be a Trade: He said 60-40 is a better description than 50-50 (check). He indicated that our strength at guard would allow us to send out a guard and the need is a bench big (check).

Marcus Thornton: He’s good, but inconsistent.  He’s tradeable (check). He said no player in the NBA is untouchable except Kobe (due to contract size). He acknowledged that Marcus brings energy at times and that he becomes a Marcus fan at times.  He didn’t comment substantively on the suggestion that Marcus is “invisible on the road.”

Backup point guard: Jack was supposed to be like George Hill on the Spurs, who could as a point guard and with a point guard.  He was a little past tense in this . . .

Defensive lapses in the 4th: He chalked this up to injuries indirectly by saying that players have been playing out of position, specifically citing Ariza acting as a power forward in the 4th against Portland.  Since he did not know the system from that position, there were lapses.

Chris’ shooting choices: He essentially said Chris is the superstar and they agree with his choices, and that means he does not have to shoot more in the 4th.

Offensive movement: After being congratulated for surprising the NBA with the Hornets performance this year, he addressed a questions about offensive movement.  He said they have a 20 second rule they try to abide by, as they seem to perform much better when they cross mid-court with 20 seconds left (again, that’s why Chris rolls the ball to mid-court). They also rely on screens, which are lackluster at times.  The practices recently have had an offensive emphasis.

Refs: Dell laughed and said. “I don’t know” when asked how to get respect from the refs.

Announcing fouls: Dell said he’d pass on the idea of having Chuck (the in-Arena announcer) announce more fouls over the PA.

Ownership: The ownership situation isn’t hampering him.  He expects other teams to use claims of instability against the Hornets during free agency.

TV: Dell will pass on the suggestions that all road games be televised, and only the larger draws at home have local coverage.  He said they are trying to get them all televised.

Relocation: He hopes to stay.  He just bought a house.

It was a good time.  I wish I had gotten one of my questions in, however.  There were a good number of Marcus questions, which seem like such a waste now, alas.  The Jack situation didn’t come up, for what that is worth.

Thanks, Dell.

And thanks, Marcus.

And go get the bread pudding, people.


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