I'd say the Hornets' offseason was a mixed bag. Hiring Tim Floyd to replace Paul Silas was questionable, to say the least. The good news is they managed to re-sign P.J. Brown, an important role player. Adding Darrell Armstrong was a nice move, as well. He's a solid pro and a good insurance policy in case Baron Davis goes down. Considering the Hornets had no room under the salary cap, they have to be satisfied.
If Davis and Jamal Mashburn stay healthy, the Hornets could contend for the Central (Division) title. I still like the Pistons, but New Orleans should be right there with Indiana as top threats. With a new coaching staff and no scoring big man to consistently draw double teams, the Hornets probably aren't good enough to win the East. But Davis, Mash, Brown and David Wesley can keep them near the top of the Central.
Jim Henderson, WWL-TV Sports Director
The Hornets' biggest offseason move was hiring their new head coach, and I think it was a good one. Tim Floyd was the most natural choice for the job among people available, especially after Jeff Van Gundy pulled out. With Tim's personality and popularity -- and discounting what happened in Chicago, which was an aberration -- I think they'll be well-served. Adding Darrell Armstrong, provided he'll get past his recent legal difficulties, as a backup point guard was also big. When they had to move David Wesley to point, it hurt, because he doesn't really create off his own dribble. So Armstrong's a really good move, providing he's still got his legs under him, and he's certainly an upgrade over Robert Pack.
I like their first-round draft choice (David West). He'll give them more beef and more youth up front. Re-signing P.J. Brown was another good move, and I was real impressed they took care of that. They never had a shot at the Jason Kidds of the world. They stayed within the framework of the salary cap and spent prudently, and they're happy with the shape they're in.
They'll be a better team if Baron Davis is healthy, and I hear he's in the best shape of his career. Last year they finished fifth in the East, and I see them moving up to fourth past Philly -- I think Philly will be hurt by the loss of Larry Brown. Tim has a reputation as being a really good game planner as far as being able to negate one particular player, and I think that's also one of the things that greased the skids for Paul Silas; in the playoffs, he didn't see to have any answer for Allen Iverson. Overall, I think you'll see a better defense, a better prepared team, and a better-conditioned team.
Kaare Johnson, WWL 870 AM Sports Broadcaster
The Hornets didn't go out and get any big-name free agents, but they re-signed just about everyone else they needed to. They seemed to get a good draft pick with David West; P.J. Brown has four more years, Mash has four years left, David Wesley's got two more years, and Magloire is under contract for at least one season. For their last season in the East, I think they have probably as good a chance as any team. The big question is whether Tim Floyd can motivate NBA guys to reach their potential, and the Hornets have quality guys. The main thing for the Hornets is that Baron Davis needs to stay in the 205-to-208-pound range. You don't want to see him up in the 'teens again. It's kind of the same situation as with Shaquille's toe injury; you don't want to be carrying extra weight around. And with Baron's back and knees, carrying extra weight is not going to help those injuries. But he played in a Magic Johnson charity game over the summer, and was in great shape, according to the Los Angeles Times. I can't stress enough that 15 or 18 pounds more weight than he's carrying isn't good. He's a penetrator and plays above the rim, but we didn't see that in his first season playing in New Orleans.
Ed Daniels, WGNO ABC-26 Anchor
David West, their first-round pick, was a really good player at Xavier, and I voted for him for the Wooden Award. He averaged 26 points a game and was a really good player. He might be able to help them as a rookie, since he had four years of college and he's mature enough. Sean Rooks is a solid locker-room guy -- same thing with Darrell Armstrong.
I'm trying to figure out how they're going to improve without going over the luxury tax, becoming horrible, or stealing someone in a trade. San Antonio had to get horrible before they got Tim Duncan. I'd like to see them spend Monopoly money. But they have to be lucky and hope a guy they draft turns out to be like a Paul Pierce, who turned out to be one of the best small forwards in the league, or maybe get a big guy from Croatia or Serbia.
As long as the Hornets have Davis and Mashburn, they'll always represent on the court. But it's getting past the playoffs and making things happen that will be the real challenge.
I think they'll win a playoff round in the East. After that, it's gonna be real tough. Here's the reasons why: They still do not have enough low-post scoring to be a serious contender, and the way Tim Floyd is going to remedy that in the regular season is to run more. If Baron stays healthy, he's going to have a giant year. The ball's going to be in his hands more than it's ever been; it feels like an Allen Iverson situation to me. I think they'll win a couple more games than last year in the regular season, maybe 49 or 50.
Darryl Greene, FOX8 Sports Anchor
The Hornets' offseason acquisition of Darrell Armstrong is probably their best move. It was pretty evident last year that without a quality backup for Davis, they're gonna tank. Armstrong's got experience, and he pushes different buttons. He's an up-tempo player who loves to move the ball around, and he can be a difference maker if he gets 15-20 minutes per game. When Baron Davis isn't hurt, he can play 48 minutes.
What kind of impact is Tim Floyd going to have offensively and defensively? He's always been a great defensive teacher, and it's going to be interesting to see how the team responds to his way of doing things. They have tons of potential with Magloire, Mashburn and Davis, they're solid through the middle, and they had a pretty good draft -- although their second-round pick is a throwaway for this year.
They've got the talent, and they've got the nucleus from last year. And they were so banged up last year -- Paul Silas didn't have the team together until February. So if they can stay healthy and adapt to what Tim Floyd wants them to do, I think they can challenge in the East.
Rich Lenz, WDSU Channel 6 Sports Anchor
By far the most important acquisition is their head-coaching acquisition. In Tim Floyd, the Hornets certainly must have the hungriest coach in the NBA. He's a guy who's desperate to prove he can make it in this league after Chicago. They'll get an incredible effort from him. They call the NBA a player's league, but the right coach can still make a difference at the pro level -- Larry Brown probably coached five-six wins from the 76ers last year. Of course, it remains to be seen if Floyd translates to more wins.
The Hornets didn't hit any home runs in the offseason, but they filled holes effectively. They didn't make as big a splash as some other teams, because they didn't feel they needed to. Darrell Armstrong is a capable replacement, and they didn't acquire Elton Brand. Their thinking is that they have the team to compete in the East, and give them some fresh fire underneath them with Tim Floyd, and see what they can do.
I sure was hoping the Nets were going to lose Jason Kidd, and I thought there was a good chance of it happening. I thought that would really open things up for the Hornets. Have the Hornets done enough? Only if Baron rises to that superstar level; if he doesn't, the Nets will be tough to beat.