Dear Hornets Fans,
Losing a superstar sucks.
What is even worse is the time spent walking the NBA wilderness in search of the magical thing known as "potential". When things are going great with a CP3 or a KG in tow, it's easy to forget that there simply aren't that many people on planet earth who are super tall, super athletic, super coordinated, and who can throw a little orange ball through a hoop with amazing efficiency. Finding these sorts of creatures with a GPS and the intertronz can be a sticky wicket. Throwing a lottery and a draft into the mix lowers the odds to even murkier depths.
As amazing as it is to think about how Anthony Davis would look in a home NOLA uniform, or as fun as it is to create draft board after draft board after draft board, the truth is that far more often than not those real losses turn into real final records which turn into real lottery balls that turn into actual draft positions who turn into Baby Bulls, Syracuse Duos, Adam Morrisons, and, if you're really lucky, Jerry Stackhouse-level players.
You were dealt a bad hand with Chris Paul leaving town. The cards played by David Stern were even more brutal. Instead of fielding a team based around Goran Dragic, Kevin Martin, Lamar Odom, Luis Scola, and Emeka Okafor, you have been asked to participate in sports austerity so that a super-rich and potentially local owner (who probably does not exist at the moment) can feel like his (or her) up-front investment can pave the way for massive profit based on franchise valuation. (This is a fun cheer at home games: "Go Valuation!")
You are being asked to get excited about equally non-existent things like cap space and future draft picks. Eventually the potential of these things will become reality and, chances are, that reality will, in no way, shape, or form, be worth what you think it one day could have been. This isn't something you want to wear at a home game:
Your favorite team was offered a middle class existence that would have made its fans happy in the present. The league decided that they needed to live in poverty for a while so that some rich (and yet to be discovered) a-hole can buy the team for a big tax write-off before he (or she) heads on over to Baton Rouge to ask for money for a new arena.
The league won't tell you this, but for the vast majority of fans, the NBA really isn't about winning it all. That requires luck, and luck is above and beyond the control of even the best GMs. Sam Presti isn't Sam Presti without Portland getting itself Pritch Slapped (is Sam Presti the new Kevin Pritchard or is Kevin Pritchard the first Sam Presti?). The Bulls drafted 2 top picks before having to wait another 7 years for Derrick Rose. They may have even had a Rose-esque player in Jay Williams before he got stupid on a motorcycle. The point here is that finding a player who can take you to the 1 place in the world that every other pro team wants to get to is 100% dependent on things that are out of your (and your team's) control.
Instead, this league is, for most of us, about simple entertainment. It is about getting your money's worth on the same night as the date on that $30 ticket you just handed to the guy/gal at the gate. It isn't about cap space, trade exceptions and caches of 1st round picks that hopefully/maybe/someday will give you a shot at the title. That's just the nonsense that the league will sell you while they keep costs as low as possible for the still-imaginary rich person that will eventually ask you for more tax dollars for a new arena.
As bad as things might seem right now, and as much as you are being asked to suffer while waiting for magic to happen at income levels well beyond the bills in your wallet and with numbers beyond what you can dial, you still have things to legitimately be hopeful for. You have a good GM in Dell Demps (when the league actually allows him to do his job), you still have average-to-above-average professional players (Eric Gordon, Emeka Okafor, Carl Landry, and hopefully Chris Kaman and Trevor Ariza), and you appear to have a really good coach.
As a fan of a team that went through 7 straight 1-and-done post seasons before coming within a Sam Cassel injury of winning it all, and who has spent the last 7 years rooting for some of the worst basketball that you can possibly imagine watching, I can honestly tell you that there is nothing wrong with being just good enough to have the chance to watch an extra 7 games a year. Those extra 7 games are a much more likely possibility for entertainment than is landing the transcendent player who can take you the distance. You had that guy. He's gone. Things can still be good. Things can still be entertaining.
One of the things we joke about over at Canis Hoopus is that someday, all of the losing will be worth it--someday, all the suffering and money and dashed draft hopes will pay off in an amazing title run (they're going to be the league's first 80-win team). Someday, the payoff for all of this crap is going to be worth...well, the truth is that a team built around Kevin Love, Al Jefferson, and, had they drafted well, Steph Curry or Ty Lawson, has the same "upside" as a team built around Kevin Love, Derrick Williams, and Ricky Rubio. Future assets are rarely worth what you have to deal with in the meantime. The seas are always stormy. Make the most of what you have in the here and now instead of filling the books with "assets" that will turn into gold after (insert magic here). Denver seems to be the only team in recent memory that realizes currently good players > "assets".
Don't buy into potential picks, cap space, trade exceptions or any of the other nonsense your ticket reps, the league, and (eventually) your front office will approach you with. Demand a good product on the date of your ticket. You don't deserve and should not accept anything less. The NBA middle class (even the upper-lower-middle-class) is nothing to turn up your nose at, and the chances of these austere measures being for the benefit of anybody but a super rich owner are slim.
I hope you find an owner and I hope that owner realizes that those top picks can best be spent on landing more above average players to put around Eric Gordon, Emeka Okafor, and Carl Landry so that you can win 50 games and get to the playoffs a hell of a lot quicker than you can when Anthony Davis and whoever Eric Gordon is flipped for wins 50 games. Oh, you'll have to cross your fingers a whole lot with that 2nd option.
Good luck and live in the now.
PS: I'll leave you with the following updated FDR quote:
But while they prate of
economic lawsdraft picks and cap space, men and women are starvingfans are suffering and increasingly apathetic. We must lay hold of the fact that economic lawsrebuilding rules are not made by nature. They are made by human beingsowners who want you to continue to pay for a bad product when you shouldn't have to.