The Bird Writes Editor, David Fischer recently did his best RZA impersonation and sampled an idea from http://www.detroitbadboys.com. The concept is to generate an open-source mixtape of offseason plans into a virtual GM’s wet dream of a mixtape.
For those of you who suffered through my facetious pitch to be lead bird, you are probably already aware that I have a binder full of ideas that rivals Mitt Romney’s, "binders full of women." Both binders are likely equally Mickey Mouse (but mine will surely inspire less Halloween costumes). Please embrace the ridiculous and try to only focus on the rational.
A horrible person with a terrible backing band once said, "It’s all about the he said she said bull shit. I think you better quit." It’s time everyone put the brims of their hats facing forward, and we march in unison resolving this in-house bickering. I don’t know any of the people involved in the fight (though I did spend four miserable years in a library named after Mr. Benson), but I do know that anyone who goes through 30 assistants in a six-year span is likely a hard person to work with. Rita Benson-LeBlanc has shown a pattern of questionable behaviour for years and it’s time she gets removed from the equation.
I’m team Gayle — to use the teenybopper bastardization of language (#addZstowords #Fgrammar) born out of glittery vampire love stories that I swear I’ve never seen or read. This isn’t because of anything she’s done (I haven’t cared enough to learn things about her), but because of a moment she gave me in back in November 2012.
It was in the height of the rebranding efforts and my fears that the then Hornets would be rebranded as something horrific like the Mosquitos, the Gators, the Revellers or even the Swamp Dogs. Mrs. Benson let us know that while a name change was still in the works, we would certainly be getting new team colors in the next season. This was exciting because teal and purple aren’t a great look. However, the way she explained this blew my mind and instantly made me realize how little anyone paid attention to New Orleans’ basketball. I know no one was listening because I can’t find a video of this quote anywhere and it never appeared on The Soup, but I’m sure I’m remembering it with at least 99% accuracy as my friend and I looked at each other in shock and had to scrape our jaws up off of the floor instantly.
She said (I’m using quotes, but it may not be the exact same phrasing), "We have petitioned the league to change the team colors. The colors will be Navy, Red and Gold, which are the colors of the New Orleans’ city flag. We tried to get approval to use black, but the league said it already has too many blacks in it." In the age of memes, how did this never go viral? If an old, super-rich white lady says that the NBA thinks it has too many blacks in it in a small market, it apparently doesn’t make a sound. Sometimes I feel like I was the only person watching Greivis Vasquez run the point.
Anyway, the first order of business is a quick and decisive move to align ownership current and transitional into the future when Tom Benson is truly no longer able to run the team. A future that should not include Rita Benson-LeBlanc. It needs to be planned accordingly that a heavy local presence remains intact and will ensure the Pelicans remain in New Orleans.
Remember those Brad Pitt for mayor t-shirts? Maybe we just need to make him mayor of the Smoothie King Center. If Sidney Torres ends his crusade to shut down all of the pop-up handblown glass pipe shops in the French Quarter maybe he’ll have some money to buy a piece. Or perhaps we should add personal injury lawyer extraordinaire and courtside celeb, Morris Bart — whom I refer to as, "Our Spike Lee" — to the ownership mix. I don’t know what the answer is here, but clearly we need to cut out the parasite.
Ding-dong! Monty-ball is dead. Our real GM saved me from my first move everytime I start playing virtual GM on NBA2K. The Gentry hire wasn’t my top choice, but with each assistant coach hire, my beer goggles are making Alvin look like a centerfold. Now, let’s find 15 men to fit the Demps-Gentry marriage.
Just like when the true first lady, Beyonce, dumped some dead weight to become the empress of the universe, we need to streamline this roster to allow Anthony Davis to destroy the world without carrying around a few not-Beyonce’s.
Many contributors and commenters have jumped on the trade Tyreke Evans train. How soon they have forgotten how many games he won for us down the stretch, and how much he gutted it out through injury and exhaustion. I know I’ve been president of the Evans’ fan club for a long time, but I am very willing to admit that he has several flaws. Yet, he is one of a handful of players to average 15+PPG, 5+AST and 5+RBS a game, and he got those stats on a busted leg, in a predictable offense and while playing meaningful games. Also, you get that production on a relatively bargain of a contract.
Watching the Warriors utilize three guards gives me faith that Alvin Gentry will be able to make the Evans, Gordon and Holiday rotation work. Gentry should help Tyreke improve offensively and create plays that utilize his strengths on that end. Gentry will allow Tyreke to grab a defensive rebound and then immediately push it up the court putting pressure on the defense.
However, the addition of Darren Erman may be the greatest thing to happen to Evans. Erman is a noted developmental coach that should help Tyreke smooth out his rough spots and teach him defensive techniques that will help him utilize his length — especially when he’s guarding ones and twos. This should be the best season of Tyreke’s career thus far, and that includes a Rookie of the Year award winning season.
This past season we didn’t see the Eric Gordon we thought we were getting in the Chris Paul trade, but down the stretch, we saw a new version that finally produced some value. He doesn’t seem to have the explosive, take it to the rim game he had early in his career (which is surely due to a number of knee issues), but he’s developed a great skill. Alvin Gentry has to be licking his chops looking at a player that barely moved in offensive sets and somehow finished the season shooting nearly 45% from beyond the arc. In a system that will have him moving around, running off-of-the-ball around screens ala Ray Allen I can see Eric Gordon also having an improved season. His skillset is essential to making Gentry’s system work.
Here’s a wrinkle — I know this is kind of a dream scenario, but maybe we can get Gordon to opt out and re-sign a more cap-friendly deal somewhere between the $6.5 mil-ish that Kyle Korver makes and the $14 mil Gordon is due to make. If we were able to get him locked in for three years at around $8 mil per year that could be very beneficial to both the player and team. We need to hope that Eric is smart with his money, values winning and that he has begun to love playing in New Orleans. Dell can sell him on the idea that he’s always had his back, and that he finally has a staff and roster around him to get him a championship.
I believe in the three guard lineup under Gentry’s watch. I believe these three players are different enough to play unique roles in the offense. I also believe that Holiday and Evans can become high-level defenders with the proper system and tutelage. Holiday can give you the same sort of 15/5/5 stat lines that Tyreke Evans can, but they go about it differently (also, Holiday is already a solid perimeter defender). Jrue’s already been an All Star and will be on the All Star snubs list next year if his leg allows him to play enough games. Hopefully, his latest surgery will allow us to stop stressing about stress reactions.
There’s been a lot of debate over who should start at the point next season and who should be the leader of the second unit, but I feel like that whole debate is a little unnecessary with Gentry at the helm. The Pelicans will run a more positionless system — especially when it comes to the 1-3 spots. If we don’t land a clear starting SF in free agency we should roll out the three guards next to Davis and whomever our other starting big man is (perhaps Gentry plays Davis with another PF).
I would like to see a plan where Evans, Gordon and Holiday rotate out frequently, but with at least one of them on the court at all times. This should keep them healthy and fresh for the long haul. Evans can guard the 1-3 position and has shown he is more than adequate at the point. Holiday can guard all ones and twos and some threes. Gordon can guard ones and twos and can also serve as a play initiator for stretches. This provides for a lot of lineup flexibility that can keep your opponent off guard.
I love Jrue Holiday, and I want him on the roster under this staff next season, but if we did have to move on from one of these players I’d move Jrue (just because of his health concerns) — but only for a sure-fire reward. That being said, in the gift-wrapped everything comes out rosy off-season, I love having these three guards on the court together.
Pondexter is the type of role player that every good team needs. He shouldn’t be relied on to be a focal point, but he works within the team concept and makes the others around him better. He’s proven to be a good leader in the locker room and as an adequate defender at the three spot.
However, he’s likely best suited to guard twos and provide length on the perimeter for the 2nd unit. He’s the exact kind of player we need to put around our superstar and our collection of potential superstars. You know, the guy that won’t impress you every night in boxscore watching, but he’ll get that really important offensive rebound or loose ball.
Luke Babbitt shot nearly 52% from 3pt range last season. That’s a hard skill to defend, unless you are lucky enough to be playing him in a Monty Williams run system — a system that did not run plays for its best shooter and chronically left him wide open in the corner or on the bench.
Luke isn’t a complete basketball player, but he also isn’t a terrible one. Kyle Korver has made a career out of being totally one-dimensional. Luke has Korver’s skill, a little better athleticism, more height and is still young enough to bulk his body up and learn a few new tricks.
Towards the end of the season Babbitt was looking a little beefier. If he can add 10-15 pounds of muscle this off-season, I believe he can be the stretch four this team needs going forward. He’s been a better shooter than Ryan Anderson of late, he moves the ball, he tries on defense and he makes a lot of little hustle plays. He’d also command a much smaller salary than Ryno is making at the moment. I have the utmost confidence that Alvin Gentry will find a way to use Luke’s action-figure pump fake to make room for AD and Tyreke to create.
Every team needs an enforcer. The guy willing to do the dirty work, the guy that will leave scars on the opponent. Cunningham is that guy for us. I’ll pair him with another gnat this offseason, but I’ll save that for the next segment.
Withey has flashed potential. He’s got decent athleticism, but he really needs to add some muscle. He has solid defensive instincts and has a very good block rate in very limited minutes. I don’t believe he’s ready to play a huge role at the moment, but with a steady 8-10 minutes per game usage, he could develop into a real contributor down the line. He could also develop into an asset that could be flipped at some point. He just needs more game tape.
This off-season I’m moving on from a fan favorite, a polarizing yet talented player and a spark-plug that really played a key role for us down the stretch. However, I’m bringing more roster flexibility and fixing some edge defensive issues while not sacrificing the ability to play with pace. I’m also not trading into the draft, as this team is ready to compete now. We don’t have time to wait for a rookie to develop (we don’t have the assets to grab a top 4 pick who can contribute instantly). I like the Dell model of trading for young vets, so I’m sticking to that.
***The following was written well in advance of the announced trade between the Pistons and Bucks whereby Ersan Ilyasova is headed to the Motor City to presumably operate as Detroit's stretch 4.
Sending Ryan Anderson to Detroit for Monroe is a very common trade idea amongst the Pelicans’ fanbase and the Bird Writes staff. Personally, I love that move. I’m not sure it can get done as the Pistons will likely have several enticing offers and I’m not sure Anderson is all that valuable at the moment. We just need to hope Stan Van is still a huge fan.
It’s obvious that Monroe is on the move. Hopefully, he’ll want to come home and play his more natural position alongside a MVP candidate and couple of potential All Stars. I’m an Asik fan, but Monroe isn’t a stiff defensively (and will improve when he returns to has natural position) and he ticks more boxes than Asik in skillsets. He’s a more complete player. He’s also a good passer out of the post, which would really fit in Alvin Gentry’s system.
I LOVE Middleton. He’s a long, rangy defender who can attack the rim and shoot from the outside. He can guard the 1-4 spots, which could allow us to play all sorts of crazy lineups. I’d use him in a way that nearly ensures his 6th Man of the Year award (our main candidate in the past played the same position as our best player, Middleton gives us a player that can get 30 minutes a game at 3 positions, not eating up minutes of our star).
I’d start games with Monroe, Davis, Evans, Gordon and Holiday. Around the 5 minute mark I’d sub out Holiday, sliding Evans to the point and Middleton at the three. Using multiple quick rotations amongst those three guards and being able to slide Middleton into the 3, 2 and 4 spots can create all kinds of mismatches. Imagine a lineup with Evans at the point, Middleton at the two, Dante Cunningham at the 3, Anthony Davis at the 4 and Monroe at the 5 — that length would smother the opponent’s ball movement. Conversely, you could go small with Middleton playing the stretch, Anthony Davis at center and 3 guards running opponents up-and-down the court.
I’m not a cap genius, but if we are able to get Gordon to opt out and sign a more friendly deal, we trade away Ryan Anderson and let Asik and Ajinca walk we should have the space to bring in Middleton. If the Bucks decide to match, I think I give up a 1st for Middleton. I believe he’s that good of a fit.
Ed Davis is the athletic two-way big we need coming off of the bench. He’s a post-up guy that can run. He’s always been a very efficient player, and mostly he’s just been underappreciated. I would trade Norris Cole to the Lakers for Davis. Davis would have to agree to stay with his current super friendly contract to make this work. He can opt out, but if we can work out a wink-wink, "you’ll get paid next summer" deal with him this would be a real coup.
The Lakers need an upgrade at the point. Jordan Clarkson is good, but there isn’t much else there. Also, Byron Scott is a defensive minded coach, so he should love the perimeter defense that Cole will bring to the Lakers. I like Cole, but I like Ed Davis and the role he’ll bring a whole lot more. Don't forget, the Lakers will likely draft Okafor or Karl-Anthony Towns to pair with Julius Randle and Jordan Hill making Davis less of a need in LA.
Perimeter defense has long been an issue for the Pelicans, dating back to the days of teal and purple. Enter the other enforcer I mentioned in the Cunningham blurb. We lose Norris Cole in my current plan, but we replace him with a meaner, dirtier and better defender. Beverley is a swarm of wasps and nobody wants that buzzing around them. He’s on a good deal and Houston is always chasing that dragon. If we send them our 2nd rounder and maybe even a future 2nd rounder this should get done. They’ll be doing the unloading salary thing to chase another big fish, let’s scoop up this maniac.
It may be hard to fit Kyle in under the cap, but if possible, I make a run at him. He’s big bodied but agile. He can pass, rebound, he’s decent at contesting shots and can play the 4 or the 5 spot. If a Monroe trade can’t happen, I’d certainly try to pair him with Asik as our center tandem. He’s a good offensive player and a personality that the city will surely embrace. Orlando will likely be keyed in on retaining Tobias Harris and adding a bigger piece to finally be relevant again, which should let a solid roleplayer like O’Quinn slip away.
Shooting is key for Alvin Gentry’s system. Daniels bounced around a lot this season, but previously he has shown that he can not only shoot — but he can hit the big shot. As fragile as our guards have been — it’d be good to have a gunslinger in the chamber waiting for an opportunity.
We added Seth to our Summer League team and I’m hoping that his father and brother’s ability to hit from deep begins to manifest in him. I don’t expect him to become either of those players, but if he can be relied upon to hit an open three, or to knock down free throws in the clutch (ala Jimmer) I’d be very happy to keep him as our 15th man.
Stadium In-Game Production
Bring him back!!! I loved that grotesque creature; current Pierre looks way too Leno -- too safe. My grandmother would watch him deliver monologues. Babies don’t scream at the sight of him. I want the mascot that looks like he dumpster dives and steals girls’ underwear. We’ve had a history of freakily weird mascots from the King Cake Baby to those bizarre internal organs with arms and legs.
Also, people are probably unaware of how terrible Hugo was in his early stages. In the inaugural Hornets’ season, I was at a game making my way to the Fowl Line and I happened upon Hugo and his handlers. A young child ran excitedly towards Hugo, jumped into the air, punched Hugo squarely in the stomach and then ran off. A few steps down the corridor another kid amazingly repeated the same sequence of events. Finally a third kid tried his hand at this maneuver — Hugo grabbed him, picked him up by the neck and pushed him against the wall. His handlers pulled Hugo away and led him off quickly, but I was shocked by the sight of those Mickey Mouse-like hands wrapped around a kids throat. The kid wasn’t hurt, as much as he was startled. He just ran off and drank another 32oz soda and all was well.
However, I was in my early twenties, and had very little empathy at the time so my first thought was, "I’ll send them an email pretending to be upset over this and maybe I’ll get some free tickets." I sent the email but never got a reply. Yet, I did get a story. If we can’t get Patrick Beverley, maybe we can sign the guy who was in the Hugo suit that year. But at minimum, give us another weird and twisted mascot. Thanks.
Turn Down the Lights
Why are the stands so bright? Dim the crowd lights, boost the floor lights. Give me drama. Give me theater.
No More, "Clap-Clap-Clap Your Hands" or, "Day-O" or, "Charge"
Can we please revamp the soundclips? Do they realize that a charge is an offensive foul that results in a turnover in basketball? It drives me crazy when I hear the, "Dunnnununahnuhnuhnah...charge!!" clip. Eradicate it. Also, please give us, "Nolia Clap" instead of, "Clap-Clap-Clap Your Hands" that would be like reversing the Kobe for Vlade trade. It’s that much of an upgrade. "Day-O" was great in Beetlejuice, let’s leave it there.