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Jeremy Lamb's Fresh Start

Jun 29, 2015 -- 11:57am

Image result for Jeremy Lamb in Charlotte

 

When the Oklahoma City Thunder traded James Harden for Kevin Martin and Jeremy Lamb in October 2012, OKC thought it would be getting the 48 percent shooting 14 points a game Lamb from UConn, but that was not the case.

Over the course of three years in OKC, Lamb struggled to find consistency and playing time. Of the 148 games Lamb dressed out for, he only started eight games.

That’s not what you'd expect from the 12th overall in the 2012 NBA Draft.

Many expected Lamb to come in and start at the shooting guard, instead he found himself sitting at the end of bench.

You can argue his more memorable moments as a member of the Thunder came during player introductions, when he shared his over the top handshakes with his teammates before they took the floor.

During the 2014-15 season he recorded 37 DNPs (Did not play) over the course of an 82-game season, that’s a sign of a guy who couldn’t put it together.  Though it didn’t go well in OKC, Lamb did take away some positives that he’ll bring with him as a member of the Hornets.

“They helped me tremendously, even though I wasn’t playing, they still taught me how to be a professional,' he said.

Despite his shortcomings the 23-year old out of Norcross, Ga., has another opportunity to showcase what he can bring to the hardwood. This time around, he’ll be with his collegiate point guard Kemba Walker. They won a national championship at UConn in 2011. They spoke the day the trade became official.

“He told me to be ready to go, and he’s excited I’m coming,” said Lamb. “It’s always good being back with old teammates.”

Coming out of college, NBAdraft.net compared Lamb to Reggie Miller. This comparison is why you have to be careful when comparing young talent to NBA greats.

In three years at OKC, Lamb has yet to come close to reaching those expectations.

“I definitely think it’s a fresh start, it’s there for me I just have to take advantage of it," he said.

Rich Cho addressed the projected starting lineup of Walker, Nicolas Batum, Michael-Kidd Gilchrist, Cody Zeller and Al Jefferson.

Newly drafted Frank Kaminsky will compete with Zeller for that starting forward spot, but a much needed scoring option will be needed off the bench and Lamb can fill that void.

Who else is going to come off the bench and provide a spark?

The likely candidates of Marvin Williams, Jeffery Taylor and P.J. Hairston aren’t exactly going to scare opposing teams. From Lamb’s production in OKC he doesn’t add much fear either, but the potential is there for him to do so.

“I have to keep working hard and do my best,” said Lamb with a look of all seriousness. “If I fail I fail; I can live knowing I gave it my all.”

In the NBA fit is everything, if you aren’t in the right fit you won’t be able to thrive. Landing in Charlotte couldn’t have been better for Lamb, who’s struggled to find his groove.

If he doesn’t provide on the court, he’ll definitely entertain fans with his creativity when it comes to pregame handshakes that you can find on Vine or Youtube.

“We gone get the handshake game cracking,” said Lamb with the biggest smile on his face. “I’ll probably have a handshake with everybody on the team. Maybe some goofy ones, maybe some serious but whatever it is it’ll be dope.”

The Hornets are giving Lamb another shot at turning his career around, we'll see what he makes of the opportunity.

 

Justin Thomas

ESPN 730 Charlotte Hornets Reporter and Blogger

Twitter:  @JTyree704

Facebook:  Facebook.com/SportsFromMyEyes 

The All-Star Game is Back

Jun 24, 2015 -- 11:46am

Though Michael Jordan will get majority of the credit for bringing the NBA All-Star Game back to Charlotte, without the collaboration from the community and state this event would not be possible.

“Not only will the attention be on Charlotte and the state of North Carolina, but the entire NBA community will be focused here for a week long full of activities,” said Silver. “The world’s attention, literally the world’s attention will be focused on Charlotte that week in 2017 and we can’t wait to get it started.”

Renovations for 2017 are already underway including the infrastructure, suites and scoreboard, thanks to the $30 million guaranteed from the city.

Feb. 19, 2017 the NBA All-Star Game will be played at Time Warner Cable Arena.

What makes this special is that Jordan played in the All-Star Game hear in Charlotte 24 years ago.

“It is an honor to bring NBA All-Star back to Charlotte,” Jordan said. “I remember the excitement of playing in the 1991 All-Star Game, the first one held in my home state, and I take pride in being able to host NBA All-Star 2017 as the owner of the Hornets.”

“This is a great moment for our fans, our city and our franchise. We are excited to welcome the world to Charlotte and Time Warner Cable Arena in 2017.”

For everyone involved Jordan made sure to thank the people in the community that made this goal achievable.

“We’ve gotten some unbelievable support from around this community,” said Jordan. “Novant Health, who has been probably one of the biggest supporters of the Hornets over the last five years.”

Charlotte mayor Dan Clodfelter was one of the speakers in attendance also. Clodfelter was confident that the city was well equipped to host the All-Star Game, referencing the past events that the city has played host to from the Belk Bowl to the CIAA Tournament, even including the PGA Championship in 2019.

With the community playing a major role in bringing this event back to Charlotte, Mecklenburg County Commission chairman Trevor Fuller, was in attendance as one of the speakers. The county commission represents over a million people who call Mecklenburg County home.

“Many people took part in bringing this together, that’s a hallmark of our community that we work together,” said Fuller. “City, county, private sector, non-profit and the team, we all worked together to bring this to victory. It’s another example of the can-do spirit.”

The city and county weren’t the only ones who worked to bring this event to Charlotte, North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory was also in attendance.

“This is great for the city of Charlotte, the Charlotte region and all of North Carolina,” said McCrory.

McCrory recalled a time as a  27-year old referee when he called a travel on Jordan during a 1984 ACC Barnstorming Tour game in Kannapolis, that summer Jordan went on to get drafted third overall by the Chicago Bulls.

“I’ve aged quite a bit since then,” said McCrory. “And Michael Jordan still says it’s a bad call, and he never traveled.”

McCrory switched gears from providing laughter to a more serious tone, elaborating on having the arena built uptown.

“In 2004-05 period of time we knew if we were going to continue to have all these great events come to Charlotte, we needed an arena right in center city; there’s no doubt that had an impact on this decision.”

There’s no secret that Jordan’s stardom was one of the many reasons for the NBA bringing the All-Star Game back to Charlotte, but the community is what brought this event together.

Hornets’ president and chief operating officer Fred Whitfield reiterated that belief, thanking the city council and county commissions.

“Novant Health one of our long standing partners supporting us here,” said Whitfield. “Michael mentioned five years, they have exactly been with us 10 years. You’ve really taken it to another level since Michael took over as majority owner, thank you for your support.”

The economic boom that will take place in Charlotte during 2017 will be paramount, with the CIAA Tournament then following up with NBA All-Star Week.

“You may know the CIAA and All-Star Game are back-to-back, we’re going to have a very busy too weeks” said Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority CEO Tom Murray. “The CIAA Tournament is around $50 million dollar impact, the NBA (All-Star Game) should be around a $100 million dollar impact, these two weeks will almost be as big as the Democratic National Convention (that was held in 2012) it’ll be a big impact on our community.”

Community support helps when attracting a major sporting event, the city of Charlotte is a clear reminder of that.

 

Justin Thomas

ESPN 730 Charlotte Hornets Reporter and Blogger

Twitter:  @JTyree704

Facebook:  Facebook.com/SportsFromMyEyes 

Rich Cho's Pre-Draft Media Availability

Jun 18, 2015 -- 10:39pm

Hornets’ general manager Rich Cho held his pre-draft media availability Thursday morning, Cho addressed everything regarding the draft along with the status of players on the current roster.

If you’re reading this thinking you’ll come away with who Charlotte will draft with the ninth pick, you won’t find that here. 

When asked multiple times what the Hornets will do with the ninth pick Cho stuck with the same saying, “We’ll go with the best available player.”

Anyone who follows Charlotte knows that their biggest need to address is shooting, recording a league-worst 31.8 percent from behind the arch.

“We definitely want to address shooting,” Cho said when asked about are there any specific needs to address. “At some point get a third point guard most likely.”

Shooting is the obvious need, but adding another point guard is also important. There are two things that can happen with the ninth pick: either Cho can select Devin Booker the sharp shooter out of Kentucky, or Cho can trade down to select R.J. Hunter. The Celtics are eager to move into the top-10 and Cho's ball club is their most logical trade partner.

Right now under contract the Hornets have Kemba Walker and Brian Roberts. Last season the Hornets kept three point guards on the roster in Walker, Roberts and Jannero Pargo, but after waving Pargo, Charlotte went out and signed veteran Mo Williams after Walker was sidelined due to a knee injury.

Gary Parrish, a college basketball insider for CBS Sports, has the Hornets taking Andrew Harrison out of Kentucky with the 39th pick. What makes this interesting is that Charlotte was suppose to workout Aaron Harrison who plays shooting guard, but Andrew filled Aaron’s role as Aaron chose to workout with the Lakers instead.

What would be the odds of the Hornets drafting Andrew after working him out when their intentions were to workout Aaron?

That would make for an interesting story if Charlotte chooses to go that route at 39, having two point guards at 6-foot-1 doesn’t help against bigger guards. Aaron at 6-foot-5 would add some length when bigger point guards visit Time Warner Cable Arena.

As for the current players on the roster, Cho addressed Al Jefferson concerns and injury updates on Cody Zeller, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Bismack Biyombo.

After having a disappointing season, Big Al was not happy with his performance over the course of the 82 game season. Jefferson wants to start the 2015-16 20 pounds lighter from his 6-foot-10 289 pound frame.

Jefferson averaged 16.6 points , 6.9 rebounds on 48 percent shooting, those numbers are south from Jefferson's first season as a Hornet. In order to be highly effective you have to be at your best phsyically and mentally and he wasn't there phsycially to play at the level he's accustomed to.

“We’ve sent our assistant strength coach down to Atlanta to work with him,” Cho said. “I know Al was genuinely disappointed in last year, and I know he’s going to make a concerted effort to get in shape this offseason.”

Zeller missed 19 of the Hornets final 20 games after having a bone spur and scar tissue in his right shoulder. He was averaging 7.6 points and 5.8 rebounds on 46 percent shooting, all improvements from his rookie season.

“Cody has come along well, he has a lot more range and motion in his right shoulder,” Cho said when asked about where Zeller is in his progression. “He should be able to shoot in a couple of weeks, and should be unrestricted in his activities by the end of July.”

MKG was sidelined at the end of March due to an ankle injury, he arguably was the best player on the floor all season for Steve Clifford serving as an anchor on the defensive end. When he was playing it was noticeable, but when he wasn't on the floor it was evident.

“His ankle has come along well,” Cho said on the MKG’s ankle progress. “He’s on the court doing some dribbling and light shooting, he should be able to do some cutting next month and full speed by the end of next month.”

For those wondering about big man Bismack Biyombo's qualifying offer of $5.48 million, that doesn't look like it'll get extended. His time in Charlotte has likely come to an end with the addition of Spencer Hawes from the Clippers that sent Lance Stephenson to Los Angeles.

"I thought Biz played really well before he got hurt," said Cho. "When he came back from injury he didn't play as well, but he did a good job for us. His best years are ahead of him, but we can extend a qualifying offer to him by June 30th and that's something we're still evaluating."

When asked if a draft selection could determine his fate, "That's possible," was Cho's response. 

There are many that believe if Cho doesn't have a successful campaign starting with the draft to the end of the 2015-16 season that he'll receive the boot. Charlotte isn't a city with the history to have fans continue to show up to games if the product is bad, meaning to be successful in this city you need more wins than losses if you want to remain afloat.

 

Justin Thomas

ESPN 730 Charlotte Hornets Reporter and Blogger

Twitter:  @JTyree704

Facebook:  Facebook.com/SportsFromMyEyes

Willie Cauley-Stein: More Than Just Defense

Jun 18, 2015 -- 12:11pm

With Charlotte's glaring need for a shooter, many pondered the idea of why the Hornets would bring in Kentucky big man Willie Cauley-Stein.

"Hopefully in two to three years I'll be the best player, that's the way I'm working and that's the way I'm motivated," Cauley-Stein said. "When it's all said and done I want to be an all-star."

Over his three years in Lexington, Cauley-Stein became the first player in UK history to amass 200 or more blocks and 100 or more steals. Today executives are looking for big men who can defend the rim rather having their backs to the basketball, and Cauley-Stein has shown he’s an above average rim protector  ranking second in the UK record books with 233 career blocked shots.

Cauley-Stein is an intriguing prospect that you want to get a glimpse of yourself, but as the draft vastly approaches Charlotte isn't the only team interested in him.

The Boston Celtics are selecting 16th, but they’re on a mission to move up inside the top-10. It's being speculated that they have their eyes on the 7-foot 240 pound rim protector that is Cauley-Stein. And I can see why.

ESPN NBA Insider Chad Forde reported Tuesday that the Hornets most logical draft partner would be Boston.

"Going into these workouts I really stress shooting the ball well, showing that I have confidence in my offense," Cauley-Stein said.

He shot the ball well during his time under coach John Calipari improving his scoring total from 242 as a freshmen to 349 as a junior on an average of 60 percent shooting.

With the trend of being able to shoot the basketball steadily rising, teams are looking for bigs who can step away from the basket and stretch the floor. 

Though Cauley-Stein never needed to take a shot from beyond the arch, he never attempted a three-pointer in three seasons for the Wildcats. There won’t be a need for him to shoot the basketball from that deep, but being able to knock it down from 15-18 feet would easily allow him to take his game to another level.

Cauley-Stein and the teams he's worked out for are well aware that his improvements will need to come on the offensive end.

"All the workouts I've been doing for the past month have been all offense," Cauley-Stein said. 

With the draft being a week away, speculation will go back and forth on what Charlotte will do with their ninth pick, but one thing is for certain that Cauley Stein wouldn't mind playing for Michael Jordan.

"Words can't describe possibly playing for the G.O.A.T. It would be a dream come true."

Jordan was on hand to watch Cauley-Stein's solo workout. Yesterday was Jordan’s first public appearance at the pre-draft workouts, it could me something, or it could mean nothing. Jordan even complimented Cauley-Stein on his shooting.

Now does a Jordan compliment mean a draft selection?

I highly doubt it. You never know when it comes to the draft process, that’s why all you can do is speculate until June 25 when its draft night.

That’ll get Celtic fans clamoring for President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge to pull the trigger on a deal with the Hornets that’ll get them the ninth pick.

 

Justin Thomas

ESPN 730 Charlotte Hornets Reporter and Blogger

Twitter:  @JTyree704

Facebook:  Facebook.com/SportsFromMyEyes

Hornets Trade Lance Stephenson

Jun 15, 2015 -- 9:58pm

Monday night the Hornets agreed to terms with the Clippers trading Lance Stephenson for forwards Spencer Hawes and Matt Barnes.

Charlotte’s scapegoat is finally out of town after trade rumors surrounded Stephenson during the 2014-15 NBA season.

What the Hornets really get out of this deal is getting rid of an experiment gone wrong, while adding length to the frontcourt in Hawes, who stands at 7-foot-1.

For those wondering about big man Bismack Biyombo, its likely that his $5.47 million dollar qualifying offer will not be matched with the addition of Hawes.

"We are pleased to add a pair of proven veterans to our team," said general manager Rich Cho in the team’s press release.

I don’t know if I’d say Hawes is proven, but he’s serviceable averaging nine points and six rebounds over the course of his seven years.

As for Barnes, he won’t be suiting up in the purple and teal after Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports reported that Charlotte will not keep him, letting Barnes become a free agent.

Barnes is guaranteed only $1 million of his salary for next season if he’s waived by July, if not the Hornets will owe him #3.5 million.

I’m not 100 percent on board with the move.

Stephenson didn’t have his best year in Charlotte, averaging 8.2 points on 38 percent shooting from the field and 17 percent from behind the arch.

The Hornets were expecting to get the Stephenson who recorded five triple-doubles during the 2013-14 season, in Charlotte he only recorded two double-doubles. That’s a fall from grace that many didn’t see coming.

To say he had a bad year would be an understatement, but I wasn’t ready to give up on Stephenson who was only getting $9 million a year with the third year being a team option. I wanted to see if coach Steve Clifford would be able to figure out a way to get Stephenson to strive, rather sit him at the end of the bench.

One positive is that Stephenson remained a pro throughout the season, he never place blamed on anything taking full responsibility for his poor performances.

If the Hornets start the season 4-12 like they did last season at least we'll know Stephenson is not the reason.

 

Justin Thomas

ESPN 730 Charlotte Hornets Reporter and Blogger

Twitter:  @JTyree704

Facebook:  Facebook.com/SportsFromMyEyes

Mark Price Already Enjoys Recruiting

Jun 12, 2015 -- 11:55am

Although Mark Price has only been the head coach of the Charlotte 49ers for roughly two months, he already enjoys the circus that surrounds collegiate athletes. Recruiting.

For those who follow collegiate sports you know that recruiting is bigger than ever before, for the teams that recruit amongst the best, the results follow. The Duke Blue Devils just recently won the national championship, their top-three competitors were not only freshmen but top-15 recruits.

Coaching wins games, talent wins championships.

Price had to get out on the circuit earlier than planned having lost three key contributors to transferring in Mike Thorne Jr. to Illinois, Torin Dorn to NC State and Keyshawn Woods to Wake Forest.

Having been removed from the college game, Price has noticed some changes specifically when it comes to recruiting.

“There’s a lot more people involved, it use to be call the parents or call the high school coach,” said Price when asked if he’s noticed a change in recruiting since he left Georgia Tech. “AAU now plays such a prominent role.”

Price was an assistant at Tech during the 1999-2000 college basketball season.

“Those couple of kids we’ve called on, they give you a list of five guys to call,” Price said jokingly referring to people who you can contact pertaining to a prospect.

Despite being a first-year head coach Price has more to sell than just basketball when it comes to attracting talent to the city of Charlotte.

 “You go out and recruit, and you try to sell what you have to offer which I’m excited about,” said Price. “Every kid we’ve brought on a visit that’s stepped on our campus has been blown away.”

If you ever get the chance to visit UNCC its worth a tour, from the educational buildings to the football complex. For the most part the majority of the campus is either new or has been renovated.

Whenever you have to deal with losing key contributors you have to find replacements, and Price has done just that by signing four players since taking over as head coach.

A huge selling point for Price on the recruiting trail will be his experience in the NBA as a player and as a coach.

 “Even if the kids might not exactly know who I am their parents do, their high school coaches do and their AAU coaches do,” said Price when it comes to speaking with prospects and their families. “I’ve gotten calls as soon as I got the job from AAU coaches all over the place.”

Of Price’s four signees one is from far away as Oklahoma City, with the other three coming from within the state of North Carolina.

Price is even receiving support from Cleveland after he and his son were in attendance for Game 3 of the NBA Finals. “So many former pro guys that I played against were all happy for me,” said Price even noting that if they came across a kid they’ll send him his way.

Walking away from the 16-minute press conference it was evident that Price has both the personality and knowledge to win at the college level, it also helps that he enjoys recruiting because not all NBA guys do.

Justin Thomas

ESPN 730 Charlotte Hornets Reporter and Blogger

Twitter:  @JTyree704

Facebook:  Facebook.com/SportsFromMyEyes 

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