Hornets Beat: Gordon’s Knee and Tweets, Gustavo Ayon, and the Chris Paul Deal Revisited

Published: February 14, 2012

The exalted Zach Harper joins us in discussing Eric Gordon’s injury and tweeting habits, Gustavo Ayon starting, the Hornets, and the Chris Paul deal.

I named my Crawfish after the chat that Zach runs for ESPN-- DDL

Our guest today on Hornets Beat has been on my radio show, The Swarm. What? That isn’t good enough? Fine!

He hosts the Daily Dime Live Chat on ESPN, writes front page pieces for ESPN, the Truehoop Network, WolfAmongWolves, and Hardwood Paroxysm, as well as occasionally yelling at people on Hoopspeak. He’s was one of my Summer League drinking buddies two summer ago in Vegas, shot 2-57 against SBNation after a night of said drinking, and one day he hopes to join me for the Mardi Gras (he probably is only realizing this now, though). Ladies and gentlemen, ZACH HARPER!

1. The most recent news that Eric Gordon underwent a cleanup of his knee is _____.

Zach Harper: Disappointing but predictable. Chris Paul was the injury concern in the big trade hoopla but he’s had just the one big injury while Eric suffers from a couple of injuries each season. Gordon seems to be worthy of the “injury prone” label as much as anybody this side of Greg Oden. It’s disappointing that he keeps getting hit by the injury bug. He can be so good and he could help bring this team back to prominence. I just wonder if we can get him to stay on the court.

Mason Ginsberg: Unsurprising. I’m not that upset about it considering a Gordon-less Hornets team should easily net a top-5 pick, but it does make going to games this season more difficult for the entire fan base. As long as he is 100% healthy by the next game he plays for the Hornets, then I don’t really care when he comes back as long as he’s in the lineup for opening night next season.

Ryan Schwan:  Putting me on the edge of saying the Hornets should just sign and trade Gordon this summer.  Of course, I wanted them to do the same thing with David West when he was out 52 games with a bone bruise, and look how stupid that would have been.

Chris Trew: Frustrating, considering that most will continue to think we got pile-drived in the CP3 trade and the casual fans in New Orleans haven’t had a chance to really see what he can do. However, my crystal ball says, “the 2012-2013 Hornets are going to be a lot of fun.”

Joe: Borderline expected. Look, the guy has missed a third of the season with what was deemed a bone bruise. The potential for this being something more was never far from any of our minds.

2. What do you make of Gordon’s tweets about Syracuse and other college basketball programs during Hornets games?

Zach: I guess I don’t see it as a huge deal. Perhaps it’s not the best way to show your dedication to your current team, but it’s possible he can switch between games while nursing his injury. I don’t think he’s obligated to be on the edge of his seat with each ticking second of the Hornets’ game clock. At the same time, if he’s going to pass on watching the Hornets game, at least pick something better than college basketball.

Mason: In a word? Ignorant. Look, I’m sure that some injured NBA players don’t watch every game that their team plays without them, even though we’d like to think so. However, why tell the world that you’re watching college basketball (and not even your alma mater) over your own team? Keep it to yourself, Eric.

Ryan: Honestly?  I don’t care.  The guy is around the rest of the team enough as it is, and it would be hard for me to watch my team playing if I couldn’t help out.  Even if he doesn’t feel that way, it doesn’t bother me much.

Chris: He’s scouting for us, right? Because we’re gonna have so many draft picks this year and he’s signing a long term contract and he’s never getting injured again, ever, right? If this is the case, I’m cool with it.

Joe: It makes him appear simply unaware that there are thousands of fans who are sitting on pins and needles waiting to hear something, anything about him. He’d certainly be doing himself (and the team, who will obviously utilize him to sell tickets) a PR favor if he stuck with Hornets tweets while his teammates are on the floor.

3. Fact or Fiction– If the Hornets and Bobcats combined current rosters, they would make the playoffs in the West.

Zach: Fiction. Even a healthy Eric Gordon doesn’t get them anywhere close to the top 8 teams in the West. Charlotte has very little to offer in terms of helpful talent and the Hornets aren’t exactly busting with production. They could make a push for it, but I doubt they’d really end up anywhere within 5 games of the playoffs in the West.

Mason: Fantastic question, and the answer is absolutely fiction. A healthy Eric Gordon could make the difference, but without him, you’re looking at a roster of DJ/Jack/Vasquez, Henderson/Kemba/Beli, Ariza/Maggette, and the Hornets’ current big men with Mullens thrown into the mix. The only clear starting lineup upgrade would be at SG, and the bench would be one of the best in the NBA, but it’s still not a playoff team in the West.

Ryan: The Hornets would end up with a rotation of average players, which equates, this season, to about 33 wins.  That’s not doing it in the West.   In the east, it’s probably a 7 seed.

Chris: Fiction for sure. The better question is how would geography and relocation dumb-dumbs screw up the name of our team this time. Charlotte Horncats? New Orleans Jazzbobs? Oklahoma City Seattles? My head hurts.

Joe: Fiction. With the injuries both teams have suffered, they wouldn’t even combine to be a .500 team. But Give the Horncats (I like that) a healthy roster, and they’d make the playoffs 9/10 years in either conference. That team can play all sorts of ways.

4. Fact or Fiction– Gustavo Ayon should keep starting when Landry and Okafor return

Zach: Fact. Landry is probably best used as a change of pace big man off the bench. He can bring energy and scoring to a second unit that needs it. Keeping Ayon out there to start games allows you to set the tone with defense and bring some scoring against unsuspecting second units. It’s my favorite strategy with lineups in NBA 2K12 (I’m not convinced Ayon isn’t a My Player from Monty Williams’ PS3).

Mason: Fact. In a rebuilding season such as this one, it should be a no-brainer. Pair Ayon with Oak in the starting lineup, by FAR the Hornets’ best defensive front line, and piece together the second unit’s minutes with the others.

Ryan: Fact.  Ayon needs to play as much as possible to figure out if he’s a backup or a possible starter in this league.  We already know what Landry and Okafor are, and one of them is used to riding pine and has a one-season contract.

Chris: Fact. He’s a joy to watch and he’s gonna be on this team for a long time. Let’s get him as much playing time as possible so we can get his head on a stick or his flag sprinted across the arena after a big score.

Joe: Fact. Ayon is a better defensive partner for Okafor or Kaman than any other big on the team. If Monty is going to win games with defense, he’ll have to utilize Ayon against opposing starters.

5. Which CP3 deal would have been better for the Hornets– the Lakers/Rockets deal, or the Clippers deal?

Zach: Definitely the Clippers deal. I don’t think the Lakers/Rockets deal was bad and it probably helps them compete for a playoff spot if everybody is healthy, but making the playoffs this year is extremely short-sighted. The Clippers deal helps set them up for the future. Even if by some miracle, the Wolves make the playoffs you’re still getting a couple of first round picks in the top-18 in a loaded draft class. You also have Gordon’s free agent rights and leverage.

Mason: The Clippers deal, and nothing will ever make me change my mind. As a small market team in the NBA, you typically have to be terrible before you can be great in order to significantly improve via the draft. This trade just helps to expedite the process along with some younger talent, as opposed to the Lakers/Rockets trade, which would have essentially done the same after a 2-year grace period of first-round playoff exits with older players.

Ryan: It all comes down to the next two drafts.  If the Hornets strike out and nab busts or merely solid players, then the Lakers deal was much better.  If the Hornets grab a superstar in the next two drafts, then the Clippers deal did exactly what was hoped for.

Chris: The Clippers deal for the obvious reasons plus the comedy of us making the Clippers better than the Lakers.

Joe: The Clipper deal, without hesitation. I’ll take even a 10% shot at greatness over being the seven seed every single year.


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