These are several obvious signs that a team eliminated from playoff contention has essentially shut it down and is just playing out the string.
Blatant loafing and lackadaisical play on the court.
Little or no effort on defense.
Players chucking up ill-advised three-point shots early in the shot clock instead of running the offense.
Anyone who has watched NBA basketball long enough will recognize these tell-tale vestiges of a team who has quit on their coach and, frankly, their fans.
But—despite being eliminated early from any thought of playoff contention—you didn't see any of these symptoms with the Hornets last season.
They played hard until the very last game even with a roster depleted by injuries (Eric Gordon) and composed of journeymen players (Marco Belinelli), D-League call-ups (Squeaky Johnson, Lance Thomas) and players who clearly would not be on the roster next season (Chris Kaman).
Even when it would have been beneficial for the Hornets' chances in the draft if they lost, they would pull off an upset, such as their win against the playoff-contending Houston Rockets late last season.
A losing team with no chance of making the playoffs that still plays hard is a sure sign that the players respect and like the head coach. In the case of Monty Williams, the fact that he was only in his second season as a NBA head coach makes the team's effort last season that much more amazing.
In recognition of this, the Hornets announced this weekend that they have signed Williams to a four-year extension, trusting him with the task of developing one of the best young rosters in the Association into a title contender.
The following are five key goals that Williams must accomplish in order to justify the team's faith in him and fulfill his promise as a coach.