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Wright set to be beneficiary from trade

Wright set to be beneficiary from tradeThe first thought that popped into Julian Wright's mind when he learned the Hornets had traded Rasual Butler two weeks ago might have been the same as the average fan.

"We just traded away a starter for a second-round draft choice," Wright said Sunday.

The reality later struck like a thunderbolt.

"When I got deeper into it, the next thing to think about was that more minutes would open up at the wing, and that it was an opportunity," said Wright, about to enter his third NBA season. "It would be in my best interest to continue to work hard and maybe gain some of those minutes that Rasual averaged last year.

"So that's what I looked at. It's a business. This team, the front office is trying to re-mold this team into a way that we can compete this year. Every year it changes, even it's the same 14 in the locker room. It's a new year. That's what I thought about, and just trying to look forward to trying to take more of a responsibility and fill a void."

During his first two seasons, Wright has struggled to find his niche.

A crowd favorite because of his athleticism, he has been unable to hold onto a spot in Coach Byron Scott's normal game rotation. And on the occasions when Scott would give Wright regular minutes, the young forward often pressed resulting in silly errors which landed him back on the bench.

Once again this summer, Wright has spent time in Chicago working with renowned trainer Tim Grover, who was once Michael Jordan's off-season mentor. Wright's five-day-a-week routine included work in the weight room as well as on the court where participants in Grover's summer program play five-on-five games.

So far this summer, Wright has faced some impressive players in the pick-up contests.

"Tim has done a tremendous job so far keeping my focus," Wright said. "The lifting regimen is pretty solid. The workouts as well. At the end of the day we're playing five on five against some great players. There are a lot of wings. Not to name drop, but one day in one game I'm guarding (Philadelphia 76ers guard) Andre Iguodala. The next game, I'm guarding (Cleveland Cavaliers forward) LeBron (James). The next game, I'm guarding (Los Angeles Lakers guard) Shannon Brown.

"So I'm guarding guys who are quicker than me, who have played in the league longer. All these types of things. And it's just summer time. It's fun. We work hard. It's summer time, but we're working hard."

Wright had a successful summer league with the Hornets' team in Las Vegas, which might have helped ease the decision to trade Butler away since there was a glut of bodies in the backcourt.

And while Scott hasn't spoken to his swingman since the Butler trade, Wright understands that the words Scott had uttered in the days and weeks leading up to the Butler trade were preparing Wright for just that possibility.

"He's said little things since the season was over, saying things about me possibly being a starter," Wright said. "He's told me to be aggressive in terms of looking for my shot because he knows I have playmaking ability. There were a lot of things that deterred me in the past were just thinking too much and not just taking what the defense gives me.

"And he told me also just play free, have a free mind. I think that will bode well for me going into my third year. I've got two years under my belt, and I've had my ups and downs. Now I'm just looking forward to this third year."

Wright was in New Orleans to make an appearance at the New Orleans Arena on Sunday afternoon as the Hornets held an open house for fans who were able to choose the location for their season tickets, meet the Honeybees and shoot on the goals.

Wright flew in Sunday morning before catching a flight back to Chicago on Sunday evening, so he didn't miss any gym time.

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Jimmy Smith can be reached at or 504.826.3814.

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Added: August 24, 2009


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