No one thought it was going to be easy for the New Orleans Hornets entering the 2011-12 season with no Chris Paul, no owner and no general direction as to who would lead the squad throughout the season.
But the Hornets (4-22) have found no answers 26 games into the 66-game season and remain without a superstar, ownerless and scrambling through numerous different starting lineups with hopes that something will finally work.
Last night’s 90-67 defeat at the hands of the Chicago Bulls extended New Orleans’ losing streak to seven games — the team’s second longest losing streak of the short season.
The Hornets thought they were building a strong foundation for the future when the team, with the help of NBA Commissioner David Stern and the NBA office, traded Paul to the Los Angeles Clippers for shooting guard Eric Gordon, center Chris Kaman, small forward Al-Farouq Aminu and the Minnesota Timberwolves’ first round draft pick.
But Gordon got injured one game into the season, has played only once more and refused to sign a contract extension. The Hornets tried to trade the aging and highly paid Kaman, but found no appropriate suitors. Aminu has remained just a role player, earning only a handful of starts and averaging 4.7 points per game and 4.2 rebounds per game. Finally, the Timberwolves went from the league’s worst record in the 2010-11 season to currently sitting just one game out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
If luck were a lady, she has already thrown a drink in the face of the Hornets and stormed out of the bar.
In fact, of the 16 players to suit up for the Hornets this season, only four players have played all 26 games — center Emeka Okafor, shooting guard Marco Belinelli, point guard Greivis Vasquez and Aminu.
The Hornets have tried to shuffle up the lineup, searching for a starting five that could find a way to win games. Twelve players have started at least two games for New Orleans, but only Okafor has started all 26.
With the injuries and uncertainty throughout the squad, it is not a mystery why the Hornets have the second worst record in the NBA.
The Hornets are facing its worst season since the 2004-05 season when New Orleans went 18-64, which resulted in the Hornets earning the fourth overall pick in the 2005 NBA lottery and acquiring Paul from Wake Forest.
But there is still more than half a season to be played, and it’s possible the Hornets could get Gordon and company back to full health and answer a few of the so far unanswered questions that have haunted the team all season.
About the Author
Written by Jarred LeBlanc
A New Orleans native who was a sports writer for the Daily Reveille from 2008 through 2010.