Hornets eager to see what Davis and Co. can do

Hornets eager to see what Davis and Co. can do

NEW ORLEANS (AP) The Hornets hardly resemble the team Monty Williams took over as a rookie head coach three seasons ago, from the ownership on down to an overhauled roster featuring the top overall pick in last summer's NBA draft.

It remains to be seen whether a lineup led by rookie Anthony Davis and injury-plagued but prolific guard Eric Gordon can even contend for the playoffs this season. Still, a franchise that arguably led the league in instability a year ago now has a locally rooted owner with deep pockets and a roster with young players locked into multi-year deals, giving them the chance to grow into winners together.

``We have a great future, looking ahead of us - a lot of young guys and it's built for the long run to be very good,'' said Gordon, who is in the first year of a four-year, $58 million contract he signed as a restricted free agent. ``No complaint about that and it's good to be back here feeling like it's a new fresh start.''

Gordon came to the Hornets just before the start of last season as part of a trade that sent All-Star point guard Chris Paul to the Los Angeles Clippers. If the trade did not assure the Hornets a losing 2011-12 season, Gordon's right knee injury did.

Gordon played in only nine games last season and his knee problems, which required surgery, have lingered into this preseason.

Yet Williams has said he still expects Gordon to be the face of the franchise, and Gordon has said he is in good shape overall, resting during the preseason mostly as a precaution.

In the meantime, the rest of a lineup has shown promise during New Orleans' exhibition slate, offering hope for the regular season, which begins at home Oct. 31 against San Antonio.

``You've seen flashes of how good our team can be,'' said rookie guard Austin Rivers, drafted 10th overall. ``We have so many different things that we can do. ... We have tons of shooters, you already know how athletic our team is with our bigs as well. We just have so many different pieces, so we've just got to keep putting it together.''

The ``bigs'' are led by Davis and include two new players acquired by trades: 7-foot center Robin Lopez and 6-10 forward Ryan Anderson.

Davis and Lopez both pride themselves on playing tough defense, while Ryan Anderson can stretch a defense by making 3-pointers in bunches. All three of them can run in transition.

Rivers and Gordon each can play either guard position, and both expect to do so, morphing from scorers to play-making as needed.

The Hornets have another veteran guard in Roger Mason Jr. who can score from outside, as well as rookie small forward Darius Miller, who won a national title with Davis at Kentucky last spring.

Williams looks at the stability provided by new owner Tom Benson, who won a Super Bowl as owner of the NFL's Saints, and the youthful enthusiasm across his roster, and he understands why his team has gone from one shrouded in uncertainty to one overflowing with optimism.

He just doesn't want his players' growth stunted by the weight of expectations set too high, too early.

``I share in that excitement, yet the reality is we have a lot of work to do,'' Williams said.

Davis said his primary objective is to make sure the game remains fun while growing into the best and most adaptable, if not dynamic, player he can be.

Asked what kind of player he is earlier this preseason, Davis responded, ``I don't know what I am. I'm a guy who goes out and plays basketball.''

Davis loves blocking shots, running the floor and soaring over the rim for alley-oop dunks.

Having once played guard before a dramatic growth spurt in high school, he has a smooth mid-range jumper and is open to Williams' decision to have him take turns defending opposing teams' small forwards, which means scrambling around the perimeter to chase shooters rather than hovering near the post.

``He can guard faster guys,'' Williams said. ``He has the length to create some havoc when they shoot the ball.''

And the payoff is leading the break after he has forced an errant shot.

``One thing we want to do, we don't want to run plays after (opponents) miss,'' Davis explained. ``We just want to go ... and try to get an easy bucket.''

That means Davis and Co. should be an entertaining team that fills up highlight reels. If they can also enjoy good health while demonstrating discipline and a sharp learning curve, the winning should accompany the crowd-pleasing action.

``We have great camaraderie,'' Davis said. ``We've got a chance to be a great team.''

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Blazers' C.J. McCollum has a theory on DeMarcus Cousins signing with the Wizards to reunite with John Wall

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Blazers' C.J. McCollum has a theory on DeMarcus Cousins signing with the Wizards to reunite with John Wall

Blazers guard C.J. McCollum has a theory that may sound familiar to Wizards fans. The star shooting guard now hosts a podcast and said on his most recent episode that he could see DeMarcus Cousins teaming up with John Wall in Washington.

McCollum's Blazers happened to lose in the first round to Cousins' Pelicans, though Cousins did not play in the series due to injury. Now, McCollum has offered thoughts on his future.

Here is what McCollum said about Cousins potentially going to Washington on his Pull Up podcast, as transcribed by SLAM Magazine:

"No slight against the homie. I think he’s a very, very good player. But you just have to look at the team roster and try to figure out what’s best for that roster moving forward...

“I think team success, playoff success, factors in to decision-making with personnel moving forward. Obviously, Jrue Holiday, Rondo, AD will have input on what they decide to do going forward. So that’s something to keep an eye out on in the free agency.

“And if that is the case, Boogie would jump out in to the market as a free agent and be a very hot commodity, and could potentially team up with the Washington Wizards.

“You heard it here first. You heard that here first. You know that Kentucky connection, man. I could see that happening. That’s just something to think about going forward.”

The funny part of those quotes is that McCollum said "you heard it here first." Wizards fans, of course, have been banging that drum since, oh, 2010 when the two were drafted.

As it has often been throughout the last eight years, a reunion of Wall and Cousins is unlikely. Yes, Cousins is expected to hit free agency, but the Wizards currently do not have the money to sign him. They are in the luxury tax and would have to move some big contracts to make room.

Cousins is also coming off a torn Achilles injury. That creates major questions about his future and how much money teams will offer him. 

If healthy, Cousins would fit nicely with the Wizards who will need to get younger at the center position at some point. It just doesn't seem like a good bet given all the factors in play. 

You can listen to McCollum's full podcast here.


— GUARD RANKINGS: Who is the NBA's best point guard?

— NBA PLAYOFFS: Updated first-round schedule, bracket

— WALL vs. DRAKE BEEF: Why John Wall is boycotting Drake's music

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NFL Draft 2018 Redskins live blog: First round draft updates, analysis

NFL Draft 2018 Redskins live blog: First round draft updates, analysis

The 2018 NFL Draft is finally here. It's time to file away the mock drafts and frame your big boards for memory.

Tonight, Thursday April 26, the best college football players in the country will learn which franchise they will begin their professional football careers with.

The NFL Draft is the biggest non-sporting event on the sporting calendar, and the 2018 edition is no different. Taking place at AT&T Stadium in Dallas, Texas, the 2018 NFL Draft is sure to be bigger than ever, with four quarterbacks and a freakish running back all vying for the top pick.

The Cleveland Browns are on the clock, and will make the first overall pick of the 2018 NFL Draft around 8:30 p.m. tonight.

The Washington Redskins have the No. 13 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft and won't make their draft pick until around 9:45 p.m. ET.

But we are keeping you up to date on all things NFL Draft with our life blog and draft tracker.

NFL Draft 2018 Redskins First-Round Tracker and Live Updates:

PreDraft Coverage:

5:05 PM - We did a  bracket challenge for Redskins fans, giving you the chance to vote on who the Redskins should take at No. 13. If it were up to Redskins fans, Georgia LB Roquan Smith would be the choice.

4:45 PM - Since we are on the subject of the Edmunds brothers, let's ask and answer this question: When and where will both Tremaine and Terrell go?

4:30 PM - One option for the Redskins at No. 13 is Virginia Tech LB Tremaine Edmunds. He just so happens to be the focus of an exclusive NBC Sports Washington webseries. "E-Boyz" takes a look at draft prospects Tremaine and Terrell Edmunds, as well as their brother Trey, a running back for the Saints and their father, Ferrell, and former two-time Pro Bowl tight end for the Dolphins.

E-Boyz — Ep. 1: The Players
E-Boyz — Ep. 2: Ferrell
E-Boyz — Ep. 3: Danville
E-Boyz — Ep. 4: Celebration

4:10 PM - The first pick in the 2018 NFL Draft won't be announced for another four hours. But we have a lot to prep. Let's get started with draft music. Players in the green room get to select their walkup music. Josh Jackson deserves to be the No. 1 overall pick. 

4:00 PM - Welcome to our live update tracker of the 2018 NFL Draft. The draft doesn't get started until 8:00 p.m. But there is a lot to go over until then.

Here is a good place to start. 

- Draft Day Primer: JP Finlay goes over all the Redskins' options
- Top Prospects: RB options for the Redskins
- Top Prospects: WR options for the Redskins
- Need To Know: Rich Tandler's Seven-Round Redskins Mock Draft
- Mega-Mock Predictions: DC Media choose No. 13 pick