Scott: Starting job is Wright’s to lose

Tuesday, September 29, 2009
By: Jim Eichenhofer,

At several points during the offseason, New Orleans coach Byron Scott told the media that he was considering elevating Julian Wright to the starting lineup, which would move Peja Stojakovic to a reserve role. After today’s four-hour practice on Day 1 of training camp, Scott indicated that the 22-year-old Wright will essentially enter preseason as the frontrunner for the job.

“Right now, it’s Julian’s spot to lose,” Scott said, following four hours of on-court activities by his players. “Peja and I have already talked about (Stojakovic) coming off the bench. It’s something he has accepted. He has no problem with it. His main thing is he wants to win and do what he can to make this team better. For right now, Julian is the starting 3 man. Like I told him, it’s his position to lose.”

Scott was encouraged by Wright’s Day 1 performance. “He looked good today,” Scott said. “He ran the floor well, he’s in great shape and made some very good decisions. He did a great job on the offensive and defensive end. I hope today is a sign of great things to come with JuJu. I think he’s feeling comfortable. He has a lot of confidence in himself, and I think he knows we have a lot of confidence in him. I expect him to play well this year.”

Peterson hopes jersey No. 24 sparks rejuvenation

Peterson hopes jersey No. 24 sparks rejuvenation

Upon signing a free-agent contract with the Hornets two years ago, Morris Peterson hoped to keep uniform number 24, the digits he’d worn throughout his seven-year tenure as one of the most popular players in Toronto Raptors history. Unfortunately for Peterson, then-New Orleans forward Desmond Mason already had the jersey number in July 2007. Mason was a free agent that offseason, but instead of waiting for Mason’s status to be determined, Peterson opted to switch to No. 9.

“I thought out of respect for (Mason), I would just take a different number,” Peterson said.

Weeks later, Mason signed with Milwaukee, but Peterson had already claimed No. 9. Since the NBA requires an 18-month waiting period for players to change numbers, Mo Pete was unable to do so in either 2007-08 or 2008-09, but was given the OK this offseason. His ’08-09 campaign was the most frustrating of his NBA career, with injuries factoring into him only appearing in 43 games. He had never averaged less than 8.3 points in a single season with Toronto, but his scoring dipped to a career-low 4.4 last season.

“I went back to 24 because I felt like I wanted to get back to doing some of the things I did that made me successful in the past,” the nine-year NBA veteran said. “I wanted to do it last year, but (the NBA) told me it takes (more than) a year to change it. So I had to go through the process of waiting before changing it.”

Incidentally, Peterson also recently changed his Twitter account from @mopete9 to @mopete24.

The 32-year-old will try to reclaim the starting shooting guard role he earned in 2007-08, when he started 76 games for a New Orleans club that posted a franchise-record 56 wins and captured the Southwest Division. The Michigan State product spent part of his summer working out with close friend Chris Paul and came away impressed by the two-time All-Star’s work ethlc.

“We had some intense workouts,” Peterson said. “We got a lot accomplished. I knew Chris worked hard in the summer, but to see it was impressive. When you look over at a guy who’s had that amount of success in the NBA, at a young age, but is busting his tail like he does, that really motivated me to get better and work harder.”