NBA Wrap-up for April 12
Breaking down the days top NBA stories. Should the Hornets stay in Oklahoma or go back to New Orleans? Read about teams tanking games to improve draft positions. Analysis from the Clippers and Lakers game. And weigh in on Charles Barkley’s classic quote describing Sam Cassell…
Top 3 Stories
1) Where should the Hornets buzz: New Orleans or Oklahoma?
2) Are NBA teams tanking games to improve their draft position?
3) Lakers and Clippers duel for a playoff spot
1) Oklahoma City Hornets will move back to New Orleans
What will Happen: Tonight, the relocated play their final regular season game in Oklahoma City against the .
Next year, the Hornets return to New Orleans after relocation was brought on due to Hurricane Katrina.
This raises an important question: should the Hornets permanently stay in Oklahoma City because New Orleans still can’t support a franchise?
The Hornets received excellent fan support in their temporary home, selling out 31 of 71 home dates and averaging 18, 329 fans per game.
Even before the devastation of Katrina, New Orleans struggled to sell season tickets and draw corporate support in the form of luxury boxes and sponsorships.
But Commissioner David Stern has maintained that the Hornets would return to New Orleans and contribute to the rebuilding effort.
Reaction of Commissioner Stern on Oklahoma City’s NBA future:
"I don’t have a team to send and I can’t tell you a date, but it’s my expectation that the NBA has not played its last game in Oklahoma City," (CNNSI.com)
Reaction of Oklahoma City Mayor Mark Kornett on the Hornets leaving:
“I’m sure it’s going to be emotional for a lot of our fans. This has always been a temporary arrangement, but that doesn’t necessarily make it any easier. This town has fallen in love with this team, and fallen in love with the NBA product in general." (CNNSI/com)
Reaction of ESPN insider Chris Sheridan on the difficulty of moving back to New Orleans:
“It’s an especially difficult task because New Orleans never really embraced the Hornets after they moved here from Charlotte in 2001, bringing NBA basketball back to this city after a quarter-century hiatus."
"In their third year in New Orleans, the Hornets were last in the league in attendance and speculation already had begun about where owner George Shinn eventually would try to move the team by the time its lease expired in 2012. This town was just too small and too poor, the thinking went, to sustain a viable business operation whose lifeblood is the ability to fill up pricey lower-bowl seats and even pricier luxury boxes.” (ESPN.com)
"I believe it will be extremely difficult for the Hornets to survive in New Orleans. First off, the city hasn’t recovered from Katrina. It simply lacks the capital to draw fan support and corporate dollars."
"Second, George Shinn, the Hornets’ owner, doesn’t have the finances to cover the franchise’s losses for a few years, while patiently hoping for the city’s economy to pick up. I believe the Hornets will stay in New Orleans past the 2008 All Star game. But they will leave before their lease expires in 2012."
New Orleans isn’t ready for a team right now. The Hornets should stay in Oklahoma. And when New Orleans picks up, the NBA can consider granting the Big Easy an expansion franchise.”
2) Teams Tanking games for Oden and Durant?
What Happened: There are concerns about bottom-feeder franchises intentionally losing games to improve their chances at drafting or .
The NBA’s draft lottery is a weighted system, where the worst teams have the best chance at securing the first overall pick.
No team appears to be tanking games. But there’s speculation some teams aren’t always trying to win. Unfortunately, there’s no way to measure if teams are throwing games.
Reaction of ESPN insider Chris Sheridan on team’s tanking games:
“When you talk about tanking, also Jeremy, there are different degrees of it. There are teams tanking for lottery. At a certain point, you have to look at it say, you know, what’s prudent for the franchise? In the case of the Seattle Super Sonics, what could they get out of Ray Allen playing on bone spurs over, you know, the last twenty games of the season, when for all purposes they were out of it.”
Reaction of ESPN insider Chris Broussard on team’s tanking games:
“There probably are nuggets of truth to it, here and there or reasons to think that. But for the most part, it is speculation. It’s a lot like conspiracy theories that happen with the draft lottery, like when the Knicks got Pat Ewing or when Orlando got the top two picks in the draft and had Shaquille O’Neal and Penny Hardaway.”
Reaction of Sporting News reporter Dave D’Alessandro on team’s tanking games:
“The issue of teams’ intentionally losing games for the sake of improving their draft position has been around for decades, or ever since Bill Fitch pulled off the Hakeem Olajuwon gambit back in 1984. Those were the days before the lottery, when the two worst teams flipped a coin to decide which would get the No. 1 pick, so the Rockets went into a 10-27 free fall to drop to the bottom of the standings. They subsequently won the flip and grabbed Hakeem to play alongside Ralph Sampson.” (Sporting News)
“I agree with Sheridan, Broussard, and D’Alessandro. There have always been concerns about teams tanking games. There’s no way to prove it. Is a team tanking a game when they give their young players extra minutes? Is a team tanking a game when they rest a veteran star? This is the problem.”
“I do know it makes no sense to sit on the lottery bubble at the 12th or 13th spot. Being mediocre is useless. It makes more sense for a team to hit rock-bottom, secure high draft picks, and build through youth.”
3) Lakers and Clippers battle for a playoff spot
What Happened: The were clinging to seventh place in the Western Conference. The were in ninth place, trailing the and Lakers by just a few games.
This contest was extremely important. Both teams have had up-and-down seasons and needed a victory.
Who would come through? Which team would step up and show they deserve a playoff spot.
The winner: The Los Angeles Clippers. The Clippers came back from a 17 point deficit, to beat the Lakers 118-110 .
and led the way. Cassell had an impressive fourth quarter scoring 8 of his 12 points, while Corey Maggette scored a career-high 39 points in the victory.
Reaction of Doug Collins on the Clipper victory:
“They’re still alive now. There’s no guarantee the Lakers will be in the playoffs. Lakers got work to do.” (TNT Broadcast)
Reaction of Sam Cassell on the Clipper victory:
“Let me say one thing. To my boys in studio: Kenny, Ernie, Charles (the TNT analysts). I’m older. But I’m still good fellas. My body broke down on me. But my body feels better. Wait till next year. I show you what’s up.” (TNT Broadcast)
Reaction of Charles Barkley on Cassell’s confidence:
"If you were to close your eyes, talk to Sam Cassell, you would think you talking to Michael Jordan. He has more confidence than anybody. What’s the difference between a good player and a great player: I say confidence. " (TNT Broadcast)
“I think the Lakers and Clippers are capable of pulling off an upset in the playoffs. Kobe Bryant can still dominate any series-even though he got tired in the forth quarter of last night’s game. "
And the Clippers are a very different team with Sam Cassell in the lineup. He provides leadership and direction. With Sam-I-am, the Clippers suddenly have moxy and are much more dangerous.”
Come back tomorrow morning for another edition of the NBA Wrap-up, featuring Oly Sandor’s cutting-edge analysis. Got a comment or question? Use the comment box or email Oly at [email protected]