News » Shinn: Hornets won't cut corners

Shinn: Hornets won't cut corners

Shinn: Hornets won't cut cornersHornets owner George Shinn said Monday the team's offseason move to acquire center Emeka Okafor should indicate that money will not be an issue as the team continues to build toward Shinn's ultimate goal of bringing a championship to New Orleans.

Additionally, Shinn said, the trade of Rasual Butler and adjustments to Byron Scott's coaching staff signal a change in direction that will mandate better development of younger talent than the Hornets have displayed in the recent past.

New Orleans, while getting a slight salary saving this year in acquiring Okafor for Tyson Chandler, actually took on more salary in the long run because of the duration of Okafor's contract, which currently runs through at least the 2013-14 season. Okafor will make $10.5 million this season as part of his six-year deal worth $72 million. Chandler is slated to earn $11.8 million this season and has an option for $12.7 million during the 2010-11 season.

"I think the moves we've made are very good," Shinn said Monday, at Harney Elementary School where the team announced its participation in a handful of incentives aimed at public school students who'll be rewarded for hard work and good attendance. "I loved Tyson Chandler and his wife. But we have to make business decisions. And I just felt when the opportunity came for us to make the trade with Charlotte, that it made sense for us.

"I think in some way, it helped them. I think it helps us. We've got a guy who can score, a guy who can rebound and run, and he's never had the privilege of playing with a superstar like Chris Paul who'll make him better. The goal is to get better. I hope people will quit (grumbling) that we're cheap. The goal is to use good judgment in the business. Obviously, we'd like to be below the luxury tax. But we made the comment before if we can get below it and get better, that would be great. But if you can't, you don't shoot yourself in the foot and make yourself worse to get under the luxury cap.

"We've been committed all along to get better and we won't change that. We'll do everything we can to become a better Basketball team because we want to get better every year."

Shinn said the disappointment in the way last season ended, an ignominious five-game, first-round playoff elimination that included a record-setting 58-point home loss in Game 4 to the Denver Nuggets, triggered philosophical modifications in the way younger players will be dealt with.

"It's a situation where it seemed like it made us relook at ourselves and our organization and make some changes," Shinn said. "And the changes were more inside than anything else. We worked with our Basketball people. I've gotten my son (Chad) more involved so he can communicate back to us. In the past, the Basketball was like in another area. And the business end of the operation didn't oversee it as much as we're going to now.

"We feel like a lot of our young people have not been developed properly. We feel there are other mistakes that have been made from the Basketball end. We've totally changed, and we'll hold people accountable. We're holding coaches, and not just Byron Scott, but our assistants accountable. We're holding (General Manager) Jeff Bower accountable. We expect to get better and develop our young people. When we moved Rasual Butler, the idea is with the young people we have at that position (including rookies Darren Collison and Marcus Thornton and ex-No. 1 pick Julian Wright) we want to develop these guys."

Shinn pointed to the way former Hornets second-round draft pick Brandon Bass has blossomed since he signed with the Dallas Mavericks as a scenario the Hornets do not want to repeat.

"I could go through some other names," Shinn said, "but I'll just stop at that, that we should have developed and didn't. We're not going to make that mistake again. As a result of what happened last year, it shook us up a little bit. We made changes. And we made changes we think will make us stronger.

"We're going to get better. I firmly believe that. And I think our fans will see it whenever this season gets started."

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Jimmy Smith can be reached at or 504.826.3814.

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Added: August 25, 2009


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