Hornets Happenings| Decoding General Manager Double-Speak

Paul AugustinCorrespondent IMay 25, 2009

NEW ORLEANS - JUNE 29:  New Orleans Hornets Julian Wright, the 13th overall draft pick in the 2007 NBA Draft, holds up his jersey at a press conference with Hornets President Jeff Bower (L), Executive Officer Chad Shinn (2R) and Head Coach Byron Scott at the Dreyads YMCA June 29, 2007 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 term and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2007 NBAE (Photo by Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images)

On May 23, Jimmy Smith interviewed New Orleans Hornets GM Jeff Bower concerning his analysis of the past season and his blueprint for becoming a championship caliber team.  Bower provided typically evasive answers filled with GM double-speak to some pointed questions by Smith. 

Smith, being a respected member of the mainstream press corps, was not able to tell Bower that he was speaking out of both sides of his mouth or that he was being unnecessarily evasive. However, I can, as I'm neither a member of the mainstream press corps nor very well respected!

In this article, I will provide some of the text of the original conversation between Bower and Smith, and then attempt to decode the double-speak into direct English.

On what he liked and did not like about the season, Bower said:

"There's a lot of things we liked and a lot of things obviously we'd like to change. Everything we do is geared toward putting ourselves in position to play at a championship level and to bring a championship to New Orleans. How we get there is what we're looking at the deepest.

What he really meant:

It's hard to believe that as poorly as we played, we won as many games as we did. If not for Chris Paul and David West, we would look like the LA Clippers.

On how the regular season ended, Bower said:

"When you look at the last week and a half of the season and how it unfolded, and saw how close the second through seventh seeds really were, you saw the balance of those teams in the Western Conference. We were right there in that group competing for the Southwest Division and competing for home-court advantage as we entered the final stretch of the season.

What he really meant:

We are slipping and slipping fast in our conference. We limped into the playoffs. Teams like Denver have sailed through the playoffs and we sunk like a rock.

On if his mind changed about whether the team is good enough to contend for a title with the core group in place, Bower said:

"I think the levels of play of each position determine all that. I don't think over the course of the season we had enough there to put us in that position, due to various factors, whether it was injury or the combination of talents not creating a greater result."

What he really meant:

What do you think Jimmy?  Were you watching the same games as I was? Other than point guard, we are consistently outplayed at every position.

On prioritizing current needs, Bower said:

"I think we need to upgrade, and obviously the thing we're going to try to do is get better and improve this summer. We'll look at each position across the board and see if there's a way to upgrade what we have to make it more productive. That would go from one through five. We're going to look at everything, not rule out improving at any area -- whether it's point guard, off guard, power forward, small forward, center. We're looking at everything.

What he really meant:

Upgrade. Every time I hear Beyonce sing "Lemme Upgrade You," I say to myself—she would be an improvement! If we had a center and a power forward that could be a presence inside, a shooting guard, a backup point guard, and a bench that could hold on to a 15 point lead, we could have a decent team.

On any roster untouchables, Bower said:

"I'm not going to go into that type of discussion as far as particular players with trades. That's not something I'm going to distinguish at this point."

What he really meant:

If I tried to trade Chris Paul, the people of New Orleans would tie me up by my thumbs and drag me behind a Mardi Gras float.  If I tried to trade Paul, I would go down in history as the biggest loser in all of professional sports. Now Peja and Tyson Chandler, they're another story.  They're not untouchable, however no one is going to want either of them with their inflated contracts.

On Jannero Pargo, the one and two guard who the Hornets opted not to re-sign at the end of last season. Instead, the Hornets signed Antonio Daniels as backup for Chris Paul. Bower said:

"Well, I'm not going to comment on talks with any specific players. I've talked with Mark about a number of players; he's got a number of players in the draft. Hypothetically, because he's a European player and free agent, we could. I'm not going to go into interest level on any players."

What he really meant:

Anyone who's not blind can clearly see the decision to let Pargo go and sign Daniels was idiotic. That was probably the biggest screw-up made by the Hornets since trading Kobe Bryant for Vlade Divac. I don't want to look too interested or the price to get Pargo back is going to break the bank over our already inflated payroll.

On whether Scott's one-year contract status might have an adverse affect on him or the team, Bower said:

"I can't speak for Byron, but I know how productive our discussions (have been) about what we want to do and the levels of enthusiasm for what he has and preparing for next year and this team being successful. And I would expect, and I'm so encouraged with what we're getting accomplished right now, that I don't see any problems. There haven't been problems in the past when this situation has been present and there's certainly nothing to suggest there would be any type of distraction right now."

What he really meant:

If Scott takes us on a deep playoff run, we'll be glad to sign him to a fat, long-term contract. The tough part is that if we let Scott go, there is probably no other coach available who is half as good, and Scott knows it.

On whether injuries to Tyson Chandler and Peja Stojakovic could be career-threatening, Bower said:

"Career-threatening, no. Like every team, we've got to factor injuries into the season and be prepared to deal with them. That's something we need to do as we move forward. They're going to come. They're going to come to any player on every team. If they don't, you're probably going to have a very successful year. Our challenge is to be prepared for them and ready to handle whatever that may be."

What he really meant:

Peja is hurt more than he is healthy. How can that not be career threatening? I would not be surprised if Peja needs major back surgery. Nobody has ever had that and made a successful NBA comeback. As far as Chandler is concerned, he flunked the physical at Oklahoma City. Doesn't that tell you something?

On to what he attributed the lack of competitiveness against Denver in playoffs, Bower said:

"I think the overall level of play of the Nuggets, their effectiveness offensively and defensively in the series against us. And it's something we saw them repeat in their next series against Dallas. They were a team that was outstanding at the right time."

What he really meant:

Don't talk to me about the Nuggets. They kicked our butts! That 50 point loss was humiliating. The worst part was they did it with two of our cast-offs, J.R. Smith and Birdman Andersen. If that doesn't show you how bad of a job we are doing with the selection and retention of players, nothing will.

On whether Hornets will make a pick this year as opposed to selling the choice as last year, Bower said:

"We are planning and preparing for this draft. We feel we like the positioning, to be quite honest, and we're eager to get the draft process rolling."

What he really meant:

We must have been on crack last year to sell our pick. What a bonehead move! Think of how much better we would have been had we selected Chris Douglas-Roberts or Mario Chalmers instead of selling the pick. There is no way we are doing this again.

Wouldn't it be nice if people told the truth in interviews?


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