Stojakovic would be content to come off bench

Monday, September 28, 2009
By: Jim Eichenhofer,

Excluding two games last season when he was just returning to action from injury, Peja Stojakovic has started every game he’s appeared in since 1999-2000, his second NBA season. Given how long it’s been since he’s been a reserve, you may think the 6-foot-10 forward is reluctant to come off the bench in his 12th year in the league. Not so, says the 32-year-old.

“I already spoke with Coach (Byron) Scott about it,” said Stojakovic, who spent the majority of the summer at his home in Greece. “If he thinks I will be more useful to the team that way, I will do it. I want to be able to help this team, either way, in whatever role is given to me.”

If the Hornets opt to move Stojakovic to the second unit, it’s likely that Julian Wright would be elevated to a starting role at small forward. Wright’s best stretch of play during the 2008-09 season came during a 17-game span when he started in place of an injured Stojakovic.

Stojakovic was used primarily as a backup during his first two NBA seasons for an extremely deep Sacramento team, but beginning with the 2000-01 year, he’s started 585 of his 587 regular season appearances.

“Whatever decision Coach Scott makes, I’m good with it,” Stojakovic said of the possibility of being a reserve. “We all have the same goal. We all want to be successful as a team. Personally, I’m now in my 12th season. I want to be helpful to the team, whether it’s as a starter or coming off the bench.”

Regardless of his role, Stojakovic stressed that New Orleans must play better to be more competitive in the loaded Western Conference. He expects the team’s offseason moves to make an impact.

“I think they should help us,” Stojakovic said of the Hornets’ six new players. “We have made some changes, which I really believe are going to make us a better team. Overall, we’ve got to play better basketball. The way we finished last season and the way we played, it wasn’t what we wanted. Now we’ve got to get ready and play the basketball we are capable of playing.”

Hornets TV's McGregor assesses the six new players

Media Day activities are now underway in the New Orleans Arena. The players are filtering in to conduct interviews and get their photos snapped, with James Posey the first Hornet to make his way to the arena. This annual event is a chance for reporter types like me to catch up with Hornets players and get a head start of some of the projects we’ll be working on throughout the 2009-10 season.

Some of you may have listened to’s chat with Hornets radio analyst Gerry Vaillancourt from last week. The audio section now includes a 14-minute talk with Hornets TV analyst Gil McGregor. The Cox Sports TV announcer focused on the six new additions to New Orleans’ roster, Darius Songaila, Ike Diogu, Emeka Okafor, Darren Collison, Bobby Brown and Marcus Thornton.

If you don’t have time to listen to the entire interview, here are a few of the highlights from McGregor’s info on the team’s frontcourt pickups:

• On Songaila: “He has established himself in the league over the years, probably not because he’s the most gifted athlete, but because he’s learned to use the resources he has… in terms of intangibles that may have been lacking for the team, (he is valuable).”

• On Diogu: “He hasn’t had a chance to prove to anybody the kind of player that he is. This is a great place for that to happen.” McGregor says we may get to see a big lineup of David West at the 3, Diogu at the 4 and Okafor at the 5.

• On Okafor: “He’s going to bring the ability command (defensive) respect in certain areas of the court… from 12 feet and out.”