Nets fans may have gone through agony this season, but so have a few other fanbases around the league. Take the New Orleans Hornets for example, a perpetual playoff team in the Chris Paul era that will not be playing in the postseason this year. Here to talk about the disappointment of the fanbase, and where the organization goes from here, is Ryan Schwan, from the New Orleans Hornets TrueHoop site, Hornets247.
NAS: The Hornets are headed to the lottery for the first time in a few seasons. What’s the overall sense from fans about the direction of the franchise? Does the organization have the resources in place to get back into the playoffs next season?
The sense from fans is general disappointment. The team was supposed to recover this year – and for a variety of reasons – did not. In general, most of the woes have been attributed to the front office – but even that isn’t clear cut, as the remarkable play of Darren Collison and Marcus Thornton somewhat mitigates earlier personnel mistakes.
As for the resources to get the team back into the playoffs – they are available. The Team has more than $30 million worth of expiring contracts next year. The only problem, of course, is those contracts reach their highest value halfway through next season, so it may be difficult to turn them into assets that get the team into the playoffs for next season.
NAS: With Chris Paul missing nearly half the season this year for the first time in his career, are their concerns going forward about his durability and how much he can be relied on to carry the team?
Paul had knee surgery, and that is never good. However, I’m not a doctor, and the surgery Paul went through has so many degrees of severity it’s really impossible to tell what impact it will have. Amare Stoudemire had the same surgery(twice) – and his athleticism has been barely impacted at all. Penny Hardaway also had the surgery (twice) and it essentially ended his career. It’s impossible to tell.
What I do know is that since Paul has returned, he has shown every one of the skills he displayed before the injury. The only thing that has been missing since his return is the full over-the-top aggression he’s known for. Of course, the team is out of playoff contention and for the first time in his pro career he’s figuring out how to play next to two backcourt players capable of scoring. That’s got to be a big adjustment.