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Five Reasons Why the New Orleans Hornets' Future is in Jeopardy

NEW ORLEANS - MARCH 31:  Members of the New Orleans Hornets react to losing to the Washington Wizards 96-91 at New Orleans Arena on March 31, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
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Matt GelfandCorrespondent IApril 10, 2010

Why am I concerned about the Hornets?

Maybe because they're 2-8 over their past 10 games.

Maybe because Chris Paul foolishly came back to play during the stretch run of a lost season, and hurt himself AGAIN.

Maybe because 68-year-old owner George Shinn is about to sell the team to minority owner and New Orleans native Gary Chouest, thus keeping the Hornets in New Orleans indefinitely. This would be good news if the Hornets drew more than 15,000 fans per game. The key word here is "if."

(Also, I've never been fond of the name "New Orleans Hornets." Clearly the team name here should be the Jazz. "Charlotte Hornets" simply had a much nicer ring to it.  More visceral symmetry and aesthetically pleasing on paper).

Maybe because I'm afraid of the relative unknowns who are projected to be drafted near the end of the lottery (where the Hornets will likely end up). According to ESPN's Chad Ford, Baylor's Ekpe Udoh, Czech Republic's Jan Vesely, and Lithuania's Donatas Montiejunas are the likely choices here. 

I'll reserve judgement on the pro potential (protential) of these players, since I've never seen tape of any of them (apparently I slept through Baylor's brief NCAA tournament run). And while it would be unintentionally hilarious to see the Hornets draft a player named "Jan," ultimately I'm hesitant to endorse any more "Dirk clones" after the Darko disaster. 

(What's more, I'm deathly afraid that Greg Ostertag 2.0, Cole Aldrich, falls to the Hornets, bringing back harsh memories of my futile excitement over George Zidek back in 1995).

Or maybe it's the simple fact that the Hornets allowed Utah to drop 114 points on them without the services of Mehmet Okur and Andrei Kirlenko this past Friday.

The fact remains, professional basketball in New Orleans is in a state of flux. 

Yes, Darren Collison and Marcus Thornton have been nice stories, but I question their ability to keep the team competitive next season, even with a year of growth and Chris Paul back healthy (which, obviously, limits Collison's potential contributions). 

More worrisome was the statistical digression of David West (possibly Paul-related), how father time abruptly caught up to former "prized free agent pickups" Peja Stojakovic and James Posey, and the stunted growth of 2008 first round pick Julian Wright. 

Oh, and the lack of cartildge in Paul's left knee.

Call me a pessimist (you'd be right), label me a player hater, dub me a fairweather fan, but unless New Orleans plans on blowing up the roster for 2011 (which they'd never entertain the idea of, since the sole goal of the franchise is to trot out a competitive squad each year in order to keep Paul happy), their financial shortcomings and lack of trade chips has me shuddering at the idea of a repeat of 2010. Only this time, Paul remains healthy (knock on wood), wills the team to the playoffs, and ultimately, another first-round exit. 

Give me one rational and realisitic reason to think otherwise.

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