Price will be right to see new and hopefully improved Pelicans

daniels    As he looks around New Orleans Arena, Hornets/Pelicans owner Tom Benson sees something he does not like – plenty of empty seats.
    So, the Hornets/Pelicans are doing something extraordinary: lowering ticket prices.
    This as the Hornets promote themselves as one of the youngest (true) and promising (?) teams in the NBA.
    The Hornets do have some pieces. Anthony Davis is a future star, Ryan Anderson is a great 3-point sniper, and point guard Greivis Vasquez is a candidate for most improved player in the league.
    But, the Hornets have a ton of question marks.
    Heading into the off-season, the elephant in the room is shooting guard Eric Gordon. It is more than time to cut bait with Gordon, who is owed $44.7 million over the next three seasons.
    Gordon is a very good player, but he is not a franchise player. And at $15 million per season, he is overpaid and underplayed.
    As of last Sunday, Gordon had yet to play in the second game of back-to-backs. He had played in 21 of the first 57 regular-season games.
    It would seem to be sheer folly to think that Gordon can somehow be a dependable star, one who can help New Orleans make a deep playoff run.
    The Hornets have a roster of try-hard guys. But is there still an upside in Robin Lopez, Jason Smith and Al-Farouq Aminu?
    Is first-round draft pick Austin Rivers limited offensively or he is just experiencing NBA rookie growing pains, ones that are enhanced by the fact that he played only one season of college basketball at Duke?
    Meantime, a Hornets source says that head coach Monty Williams is clearly in Gordon’s corner and that Williams likes his nucleus of talent.
    Williams and general manager Dell Demps had better be right. The Hornets will again be in the lottery, but this year’s crop doesn’t appear to be nearly as talented as the class of 2012. That class produced Anthony Davis, Bradley Beal, Dion Waiters and Damian Lillard.
    So, as the Hornets change to the Pelicans, Williams and Demps will tell Benson the following: “Tom, we have a talented young team. And, going into the summer, we have plenty of salary cap space to attract free agents, and another lottery pick.
    “If we can make the right deal for Gordon, we will. If not, he will be healthier and more dependable next season. We are headed in the right direction, just be patient.”
    In the meantime, Benson sees something he does not see on Sundays in the fall at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome: Plenty of empty seats.
    Ed Daniels is sports director of ABC26 WGNO. He can be reached at edaniels@clarionherald.org.

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