The Charlotte Hornets 2017 off-season is here and there is nothing to see.
It’s not so bad to have a season, off-or-otherwise, about nothing. Seinfeld did nine of them. Embracing nothingness is generally a positive — a characteristic of the patient and successful — from monastery monks, to New York living, cafe-dining, sociopaths on network television. For the Hornets even, it’s an important change for a fanbase that can recall only a constant state of organizational transience. Previous play-less periods filled by free agent signings and draft day trades and hirings and firings all to kind of prove to everyone (themselves included) that efforts are being made concerning the delicate issue of winning basketball games.
Consider for a moment the Hornets off-season modus operandi since the Charlotte inception: Handfuls of darts hurled wildly. Staying busy and consumed and confusing the feeling with progress or accomplishment. Like a slacker kid doing their absolute best to appear busy, the organization has become a master of the “bullshit move.” A “just do something — anything!” mantra that has predictably dead ended in mediocrity.
Yet now something seems potentially and substantially different. The marvelous incompetence and shortsightedness of off-seasons past appears to have slowly evolved into the trudge and grind of actual team-building. An unsexy little reality of professional team sports, with an emphasis on ephemeral-ish ideas of “continuity” and “chemistry” and other things that none of us necessarily are dying to pay to see.
However, part of the joy of consuming professional basketball or any other sport has always been the dysfunction. The behind-the-curtain moves, pivots, and shenanigans that make basketball particularly compelling and year-round and social media-friendly. As someone who was around for those times, who desperately enjoyed the Adam Morrisons and Sam Vincents, it feels like the end of an era. Like a high school friend who now has kids and a mortgage and a set date night — it’s probably for the better, but it’s just way less of a good time. The Jerry of the early seasons compared to the Jerry of now, in real life, fancy cars and all.
But every bit of fun, comes at a price. When’s the last time you remember the San Antonio Spurs having a hugely eventful and public off-season? Only traditionally big-market teams that can court and land multiples of big-time free agents have the luxury of both limelight AND success. Most teams just have to go to work. Because progress, however much of it you are lucky enough to fall into, is often made in the dark. And if the Hornets have any clue what’s good for them this summer, they’ll do themselves a favor and make this off-season pitch-f#$@ing black.