In New Orleans, a Coach with a Steady Hand
In the first installment of its “Real Training Camp” series, NBA TV traveled to New Orleans, where the Hornets aim to forge a fresh identity in the still choppy wake of Chris Paul’s departure.
After 10 or so minutes of light warm-up drills, player interviews and sideline commentary, a miked Monty Williams – now beginning his third year as the Hornets’ head coach – gathered his troops at center court for the day’s marching orders. For most coaches faced with a media presence, moments like these mark the time for clichéd overtures and motivational platitudes.
But Williams isn’t most coaches.
“How many of you guys watched the debate last night?” Williams asked right off the bat, speaking of the presidential debate.
Not exactly your standard-issue training camp salvo.
“I don’t want to get off on a political tangent, but try to be aware of what’s happening around you,” Williams said. “The climate is changing. It’s not like it was when I was coming up – and I didn’t know it then – but things are changing, and it affects this group for sure.”
“How many of you guys are involved in the union?” Williams said next.
“You guys need to be more aware of that,” he said. “When I came into the league as a rookie, I signed a four-year contract – and could’ve signed a five-year contract. Eric Montross signed an 11-year contract.”
Williams continued for another few minutes, discussing the new N.B.A. world of shortened contracts and fewer career guarantees. He made sure the team had selected its union representative (forward Jason Smith). He reminded them that the union vice president and recently acquired guard Roger Mason Jr. was there to answer any questions. He implored them time and again to pay attention to what was happening around them.
After breaking the huddle, it was on to defense.