The Hornets’ annual Media Day always provides the local and national media with an opportunity to get better acquainted with the team’s summer acquisitions, but the 2010 version on Monday will feature more unfamiliar faces than any previous edition. Although the team’s most significant pickup, Trevor Ariza, and its first-round pick, Quincy Pondexter, have already formally been introduced to New Orleans reporters, several other players are brand-new to reporters.
Marco Belinelli, acquired in an August trade from Toronto, as well as recent additions Willie Green and Jason Smith fit that category. Jannero Pargo’s free-agent signing was completed on Friday, so he too has not yet been interviewed in a group setting. Not to mention training-camp invitees including Joe Alexander, Pops Mensah-Bonsu, Mustafa Shakur, D.J. Strawberry and Daryl Watkins.There’s also a new general manager and head coach in place, both hired since June.
Add it up and you have a 2010 training camp and preseason that should be more enlightening than previous editions. In the past, New Orleans has often entered training camp with all of its roster spots filled by veterans with guaranteed contracts, but this time there will be a legitimate opportunity for unproven players to make the team.
Interestingly, the Hornets actually have the longest “training camp” portion of their 2010-11 preparations of any NBA team, because they do not start exhibition game action until Saturday, Oct. 9 (home vs. Memphis). By Oct. 9, every other NBA squad will have already played at least one preseason contest (New Jersey will have four games under its belt, by comparison). The upside of that scheduling is that the Hornets will be able to hold practices for nearly two full weeks before suiting up for their initial competition against another opponent. The downside is that it means New Orleans’ eight-game preseason schedule had to be compressed into a 13-day window.
Excluding overseas trips arranged by the NBA, it’s rare in preseason that a team ever spends a significant amount of time away from its home city, but the Hornets have a five-game stretch in preseason out of NOLA. On Oct. 14, the team will fly to Indianapolis for a preseason game against the Pacers the next night; with five games over the next seven days, the Hornets won’t be able to return to Louisiana until after an Oct. 21 visit to Oklahoma City.
Here’s a brief timeline of the team’s schedule leading up to the Wednesday, Oct. 27 regular season and home opener against the Milwaukee Bucks:
Monday, Sept. 27: Media Day
Tuesday, Sept. 28-Friday, Oct. 1: Practices at the Alario Center, including several two-a-day sessions
Saturday, Oct. 2: Open practice at the New Orleans Arena (free admission and open to the public)
Sunday, Oct. 3-Friday, Oct. 8: Practices at the Alario Center
Saturday, Oct. 9: Preseason opener vs. Memphis (first Hornets game action for Ariza, Pondexter, among others)
Sunday, Oct. 10: Preseason road game at Orlando
Wednesday, Oct. 13: Preseason home game vs. Miami
Thursday, Oct. 14-Thursday, Oct. 21: Five-game preseason trip
Friday, Oct. 22-Tuesday, Oct. 26: Practices at the Alario Center (Monday, Oct. 25 at 5 p.m. Central is the NBA-mandated deadline for all teams to set rosters)