Williams Tries to Keep Focus on Preparation for 2011-12
By: Jim Eichenhofer,, @Jim_Eichenhofer
December 11, 2011

Given the overwhelming and under the circumstances, understandable focus of the national and local media on Chris Pauls status and future, its no surprise that New Orleans Hornets second-year head coach Monty Williams has been bombarded by questions on the subject. For those who have noted that Williams patience regarding the topic already appears to be fraying just three days into training camp, its instructive to realize this: Williams frequently displayed weariness while talking about Pauls situation last season.

Just weeks into Williams tenure as head coach and on virtually the same day Dell Demps took over as general manager in July 2010 there were controversial and conflicting media reports related to whether Paul had asked for a trade. That was followed by local reporters staking out the teams downtown New Orleans offices, trying to catch a brief glimpse of Paul walking into the building alongside the Hornets key decision-makers.

That was 17 months ago. Since that surreal day, the subject of Pauls future has occasionally trumped all other team-related discussions, including some of the many positives that have taken place on and off the court (such as a franchise-best 8-0 start last winter; the sale of 10,000 season tickets this summer).

During Saturdays 10-minute meeting with reporters, Williams twice responded to questions about CP3 with brief, succinct answers. When a TV cameraman posed the question At what point does the Paul situation start to hinder your preparation for the season? Williams succinctly answered in two words: It doesnt.

When Williams was asked has there been any talk about limiting Paul in practice, in light of the recent trade rumors? the coach merely responded, no, without further explanation.

As the 40-year-old coach explained later, hes trying his best to focus on what he and his players can control, which is trying to get ready for the 2011-12 NBA season. The calendar is not kind, with the Hornets scheduled to visit Memphis in just five days, when the Southwest Division counterparts face off on the opening night of NBA preseason Friday. The Hornets first real game is Dec. 26 at Phoenix meaning that with barely two weeks to go, there are very few concrete answers in terms of what the clubs opening-day roster will look like.

Still, Williams is doing his best under unusual circumstances to prepare the 15 players who have been practicing in the Alario Center, including nine training-camp invitees who are mostly unfamiliar to the teams six veterans.

Ive got to be frank with you guys Ive gone into coaching mode, Williams told reporters. Ive spent a lot of time with Dell the last couple of weeks, talking about a lot of things. (But) once the season starts, I certainly dont go through that many scenarios (of what may or may not happen to the lineup).

We go into this season with five guys under contract. So you have to have a Plan A, a Plan B and a Plan C. We just happen to have other stuff going on that lends to having a Plan G and H. It requires you to make adjustments on the fly. Im going to be relying on our staff to help me out and navigate through some of these muddy waters.

It would be impossible to reasonably expect anyone to completely block out the talk that has been swirling around the Hornets over the past few days, but Williams says his goal is to focus on the players he is working with right now.

Im not going to sit here and say that I dont think about the possibilities, but at the same time, if I go too far with that, it takes away from what I have to do the next day, Williams said. Yes, Ive thought about (different roster permutations), but I can only take that thought so far, because I have what I have (in uniform) today.

After preaching a no-excuses mantra from the first day of his rookie season at the helm, Williams assured those on hand that regardless of what takes place leading up to the Dec. 26 opener, it will not be used as an alibi for poor early-season performance on the court.

I dont want anybody to be concerned about us in that regard, Williams said. Weve been a no-excuses, no-explanation team since I got here. Were not going to make any excuses about the situation. It is what it is. We get paid a lot of money to do our jobs. Im not going to allow excuses to creep into the way I think about this game.

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