Hornets Beat: We’re Still Locked Out

Published: July 18, 2011

The second edition of Hornets Beat focuses mostly on lockout related issues. Our featured guest is Chris Trew, a nationally touring comedian, Air Sex host and co-founder of The New Movement. Joining him is our very own Michael McNamara, Caleb Smith from At The Hive, Jake Madison from Swarm and Sting, and Mason G from HoopDat.

If you didn’t hear, Hornets Beat is a new feature where we take five people who know about the Hornets, be they writers, musicians, politicians, comedians, superfans, or whatever, and we ask them five questions. You can look forward to it every Monday morning around 6am central time, and if you can think of any specific questions you want to see tackled, just leave your thoughts in the comment section.

1. Who do you currently blame more for the lockout, the owners or the players?

Michael McNamara, Hornets247- The owners. I know it is a cliche argument, but the players just took the money that was offered. Who can blame Peja for taking that contract? Business owners have to be more responsible with their costs. They weren’t, and now we are in this mess.

Chris Trew, Comedian- At first I blamed the players but then I blamed the owners. Then I changed my mind again. Then again. Now I blame the Universe. The Universe is clearly out to get every one of us and we should be afraid.

Caleb Smith, At The Hive- The owners. They make questionable financial decisions every year. On the other hand, this is a business negotiation between really rich guys and even richer guys, and these things happen. Both sides have valid concerns, and I don’t think either side should be characterized as “good guys” or “bad guys” unless one side becomes particularly belligerent. For now, we should just hope that both sides act in good faith.

Jake Madison, Swarm and Sting- The owners. Bad owners in particular. They made the decisions which led to the NBA (supposedly) losing $300 million. I’m not going to blame Rashard Lewis for signing a 118 million dollar contract, but I’m certainly going to blame the person who offered it to him.

Mason G, Hoopdat- I lean slightly towards owners, but there’s heavy blame for both sides. You can’t blame the players for accepting the ludicrous contracts offered up by team management; however, those irrationally high salaries have caused the players to think that they were entitled to that much money, and now they’re refusing to concede as much as they should in these negotiations.

2. Do you think there should be a minimum or maximum amount of money a team can spend?

Michael McNamara, Hornets247- Minimum- definitely. Maximum- not so sure. The League has a right to demand that its franchises spend a certain amount of money to ensure a quality product, but revenue sharing could actually help competitive balance if implemented properly, so I am not so sure that a cap is necessary.

Chris Trew, Comedian- Vernon Maximum. This seems like a no-brainer to me. Both the answer and my cool new slang I just created.

Caleb Smith, At The Hive- Generally speaking, sure, but when it comes to the details I simply don’t have strong opinions. I feel like I don’t know enough about the ins and outs of the NBA’s economics and financial policies to have a strong opinion. Basically, I’ll support whatever helps small market teams compete with the big spenders.

Jake Madison, Swarm and Sting- Both. A hard salary cap means every team is on a level playing field in term of what they can spend. The Lakers spent 24 million more than the Hornets. How is that fair? Competitive balance is broken and a hard cap fixes that. A minimum team salary (at least in theory) means every owner will field a competitive team.

Mason G, Hoopdat-Yes and yes. Minimum is essential so teams can’t rob their fan base of a quality on-court product to deepen their own pockets. There also has to be a cap that is much more restrictive than the one currently in place. There are ways around that soft cap, and wealthier owners manipulate it in ways that less fortunate owners cannot.

3. If Hornets players sign deals abroad, the first one will be…

Michael McNamara, Hornets247- Willie Green. Even if the lockout is settled relatively quickly, there is no guarantee that Willie will be offered anything more than the league minimum. He lacks the elite skills that translate into being an above average player in the NBA, but his selfless attitude and work ethic would be appreciated in Europe.

Chris Trew, Comedian- I think David Andersen, Marco and Mbenga promise each other they’ll form a big 3 and play for the Germany Wasps. At the last second they shock the world and swap out Mbenga for Magloire.

Caleb Smith, At The Hive-Who knows? I suppose it would make sense for an international player like Marco to be the first to go, but that’s just a guess on my part. Maybe Aaron Gray will go put up 40 & 20 per game in the CBA!

Jake Madison, Swarm and Sting- You’d have to think Belinelli is the most likely option—if you count him as being on the team currently. But if anyone goes, I hope it would be Pondexter. With the summer league cancelled, the most important thing for him right now is playing time. If he has to go abroad for that then I’m all for it.

Mason G, Hoopdat- Well, there are only 6 players currently on the Hornets’ roster, so I’ll go with the guy making (by far) the least amount of money – Pondexter. I can’t see Paul, Jack, Belinelli, Ariza, or Okafor risking injury just to make a few extra bucks overseas when they are fully capable of staying in game shape here in the US.

4. What are the chances Chris Paul signs a contract to play abroad during the 2011 calendar year?

Michael McNamara, Hornets247- 2%. The only reason I don’t say zero is because his good buddy Deron Williams is going to give it a try and perhaps he can sell CP3 on the benefits of playing abroad. But Chris has so much to lose and so little to gain by signing with an overseas team, and for that reason, I put the odds at 50-to-1.

Chris Trew, Comedian- 20% if it gives him a chance at winning a championship, 80% if he attends any wedding outside of North America and eats the toast served to him by Carmelo Anthony.

Caleb Smith, At The Hive- I’m thinking around 40%. Unless I’m mistaken Paul hasn’t actually spoken of a desire to do this yet. All I’ve seen in the news is a vague reference to Paul being “open-minded” about it. When you consider the risk of injury, and the financial situations of overseas clubs, I think it’s possible but not likely.

Jake Madison, Swarm and Sting- 10%. I think it is very unlikely he plays abroad. The only way I could see it potentially happening is if he thinks games will be missed. Chris is a competitive guy and will want to play basketball somewhere. Hopefully, that’s at the start of the season with the Hornets.

Mason G, Hoopdat- 5%. His love for the game of basketball is the only reason that number isn’t 0. Paul knows what’s at stake from both a basketball and financial perspective over the next year and beyond; I seriously doubt he’d do anything to jeopardize his status in the NBA. The extra time off for his knee shouldn’t be a bad thing, either.

5. Your first thoughts upon hearing that Shaquille O’Neal would be joining TNT were…

Michael McNamara, Hornets247- Downgrade. If Shaq weren’t famous, he would just be that awkward guy you work with who thinks he is much funnier than he actually is. I mean, are “Sacramento Queens” or “The Big Aristotle” jokes that are really that brilliant and funny or are we just laughing because it is Shaq? Kevin McHale was great in his role with NBATV and TNT, so going from him to Shaq is just a massive downgrade. I just hope he doesn’t take time from Webber and Chuck as well.

Chris Trew, Comedian- Two of my biggest dreams just became highly unlikely. #1, This is going to keep him from buying the Hornets. #2, Our NBADL team, The Baton Rouge Diesels (also owned by Shaq) probably won’t happen for another couple of years.

Caleb Smith, At The Hive- I think it’s great. I don’t know if Shaq will provide a lot of deep insight into the game (although he might surprise me), but he will certainly be entertaining. Shaq and Barkley together? That’s basically a guarantee of great television.

Jake Madison, Swarm and Sting- Nobody touches the Shaqtus. As long as he’s not whispering then it’s going to be fun watching him and Barkley go back and forth. There are certainly going to be a lot of one-liners coming from the TNT set.

Mason G, Hoopdat- Turrible! But seriously, if T-Mobile can turn Charles Barkley into a rapper, I can’t wait to see what’s in store with the two of them together. At the very least, pairing Shaq with Chuck should be fairly entertaining, whether it benefits TNT’s actual basketball analysis or not. I may be wrong… but I doubt it.

Michael McNamara writes for Hornets247. Chris Trew is a a nationally touring comedian, Air Sex host and co-founder of The New Movement. Caleb Smith writes for At The Hive, Jake Madison is with Swarm and Sting, and Mason G writes over at HoopDat.


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