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Steve Geller

"WWL First News" Sports Anchor
Weekdays 5am-10am

"Sports Talk" Producer
Weekdays 4pm-8pm

Twitter: @stevegellerWWL
Email: steve@wwl.com
Posts from June 2013


Steve: Pelicans land All-Star Jrue Holiday on draft night
Nobody expected Kentucky's Nerlens Noel to fall to the Pelicans at number six, and no one certainly thought New Orleans would end up with an All-Star point guard in the 2013 NBA Draft.  But things don't often go as expected, do they?

When the Cavaliers took UNLV's Anthony Bennett 1st overall, it was a sign of the unpredictable night we were in store for.  While Bennett was a lock to be taken in the top 10, he was not really thought of as the top selection in this class.

That pick was followed by a bevy of surprises, but none bigger then Noel's slide down the draft board.  Yes, he is recovering from a torn ACL, but is an outstanding shot-blocker who runs the floor well.  Had he never suffered the injury, there is no doubt he would have been the consensus number 1 overall pick.

So at this point of the Draft, there is nervous excitement amongst the media at Pelicans draft central about the prospect of Noel being teamed up with last year's top overall pick, Anthony Davis…and then it actually came to fruition.  New Orleans' version of the Twin Towers was short lived, though, as rumblings of a trade started to spread like wildfire.

As it turned out, the Pelicans had traded the rights to Noel along with a protected 2014 1st round pick to Philadelphia.  In return, the 76ers sent point guard Jrue Holiday and the 42nd overall pick in the 2013 draft back New Orleans' way . That 2nd round pick ended up being Baylor point guard Pierre Jackson.

So what to make of the madness?  Great job by this Pelicans front office.

Holiday is a terrific player, and at 23 years old, is coming off his first All-Star season.  He averaged around 18 points with 8 assists per game last year in Philly, and will immediately grab the reigns as the starting point guard for the Pelicans.

"Most importantly a quality person," Bob Cooney of the Philadelphia Daily News told us.  "Jrue Holiday is as good as a person as you will find.  Basketball wise, just steady improvement.  Came into the league as a 19 year old and in his 4 years has progressed into the All-Star that he was this year."

GM Dell Demps could not speak on the trade, because it does still need league approval.  However, no hang-ups are to be expected.  Keep it locked on WWL Pelicans Radio for the latest as soon as we hear from the NBA and the Pelicans.
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Steve: Pelicans land All-Star Jrue Holiday on draft night
Nobody expected Kentucky's Nerlens Noel to fall to the Pelicans at number six, and no one certainly thought New Orleans would end up with an All-Star point guard in the 2013 NBA Draft.  But things don't often go as expected, do they?

When the Cavaliers took UNLV's Anthony Bennett 1st overall, it was a sign of the unpredictable night we were in store for.  While Bennett was a lock to be taken in the top 10, he was not really thought of as the top selection in this class.

That pick was followed by a bevy of surprises, but none bigger then Noel's slide down the draft board.  Yes, he is recovering from a torn ACL, but is an outstanding shot-blocker who runs the floor well.  Had he never suffered the injury, there is no doubt he would have been the consensus number 1 overall pick.

So at this point of the Draft, there is nervous excitement amongst the media at Pelicans draft central about the prospect of Noel being teamed up with last year's top overall pick, Anthony Davis…and then it actually came to fruition.  New Orleans' version of the Twin Towers was short lived, though, as rumblings of a trade started to spread like wildfire.

As it turned out, the Pelicans had traded the rights to Noel along with a protected 2014 1st round pick to Philadelphia.  In return, the 76ers sent point guard Jrue Holiday and the 42nd overall pick in the 2013 draft back New Orleans' way . That 2nd round pick ended up being Baylor point guard Pierre Jackson.

So what to make of the madness?  Great job by this Pelicans front office.

Holiday is a terrific player, and at 23 years old, is coming off his first All-Star season.  He averaged around 18 points with 8 assists per game last year in Philly, and will immediately grab the reigns as the starting point guard for the Pelicans.

"Most importantly a quality person," Bob Cooney of the Philadelphia Daily News told us.  "Jrue Holiday is as good as a person as you will find.  Basketball wise, just steady improvement.  Came into the league as a 19 year old and in his 4 years has progressed into the All-Star that he was this year."

GM Dell Demps could not speak on the trade, because it does still need league approval.  However, no hang-ups are to be expected.  Keep it locked on WWL Pelicans Radio for the latest as soon as we hear from the NBA and the Pelicans.
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NBA Draft rumor mill & the Pelicans
The big guessing game about which player the Pelicans will draft finally ends when the NBA draft takes place in Brooklyn this evening.   The rumor mill of potential draft night trades is really heating up as well, and New Orleans has even been mentioned in a few.

One such rumor stated that the Cleveland Cavaliers contacted the Pelicans about a trade that would send the top overall pick to New Orleans.  In exchange, the Cavs are said to be asking for the #6 pick, guard Greivis Vasquez and New Orleans' 1st round pick in 2014. The price is a bit steep since there is not a consensus #1 pick in this year's class, but if Cleveland is willing to lower their asking price to a 2nd rounder in 2014, the Pelicans may bite.

Also swirling on the internet is the rumor that New Orleans is trying to unload Eric Gordon.  While the fan base would love to see the oft inured shooting guard shipped out of town, his value is at an all time low, and I highly doubt Pelicans GM Dell Demps can get any real value for him.  I could still see Gordon sent packing, but it would be before this season's trade deadline IF he actually suits up and plays.  

New Orleans and Dallas have reportedly been talking about a deal that would give the Pelicans a second pick in round one.  The Mavericks want to unload Shawn Marion and his contract to free up cap space to make a run at center Dwight Howard.  They would send Marion's expiring $9.3 million contract and the 13th overall pick in this year's draft to the Pelicans in exchange for a future draft pick.  I'm not crazy about this move AT ALL since this year's draft class is weak and the Pelicans can fill any holes in free agency.  They have plenty of cap space available.

And a little off the beaten path is the Charlotte Bobcats who are reportedly shopping last year's 2nd overall draft pick Michael Kid-Gilchrest because they are said to be enamored with Georgetown's Otto Porter.  Porter plays the same position, and they feel he will be there when they pick at 4.  Let me wipe the drool from my mouth thinking about the possibility of pairing up MKG with Kentucky teammate Anthony Davis in New Orleans.  Hopefully, the Pels front office is on the phone trying to hammer out a deal with Charlotte that would fill a gaping need at small forward.
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Steve: 6 the Pelicans could take at 6
The 2013 NBA season now in the books; and yes Heat haters, Miami has been crowned back to back champions.  But like the NFL, basketballs' season never seems to end as the draft is this Thursday night in Brooklyn. 

While New Orleans selected their cornerstone franchise piece last year in power forward Anthony Davis, this year is monumentally important as well. It's the first draft in team history under their new moniker, THE PELICANS. 

While the team doesn't hold the top overall pick this year, fans are still anxious to see who the Pelicans will select to team up with a slew of young talent as the franchise continues to build a contender.   The Pelicans will look to find a new key piece to the puzzle when they select 6th overall.
 
While it may not sound that appealing, the 6th pick could still yield a very productive pro player.  Here's a look at its history over the last 10 years:

2012 Damian Lillard, Portland (Weber State)
2011 Jan Vesely, Washington (Partizan Belgrade)
2010 Ekpe Udoh, Golden State (Baylor)
2009 Jonny Flynn, Minnesota (Syracuse)
2008 Danilo Gallinari, New York (Olimpia Milano)
2007 Yi Jianlian, Milwaukee (Guangdong Southern)
2006 Brandon Roy, Minnesota (Washington)
2005 Martell Webster, Portland (Seattle Preparatory School)
2004 Josh Childress, Atlanta (Stanford)
2003 Chris Kaman, Los Angeles Clippers (Central Michigan)

*Other notable number 6 selections in NBA draft history include Shane Battier (2001), Antoine Walker (1996), Kenny Smith (1987), Larry Bird (1978) Adrian Dantley (1976), Lionel Hollins (1975) and Lenny Wilkens (1960).

So where does all this leave the Pelicans?  Let's take a look at 6 that could be around at 6:

1. Victor Oladipo - Indiana, shooting guard

The only real question with this kid is...just how good can he be?  He is an absolute terror on the defensive end and terrific at attacking the basket. You never have to question this kid's motor either.

2. Otto Porter – Georgetown, small forward

He's exactly what New Orleans could use on the wing - given his versatility as a scorer and reliability as a disciplined player.  He will need to add strength, but all-in-all is a very safe pick.

3. Anthony Bennett – UNLV, power forward

While the Pelicans already have Ryan Anderson and Anthony Davis at this position, Bennett has the potential to be a 20 point per game scorer, and I love his aggressiveness.

4. Alex Len – Maryland, center

A frontline of Davis and Len would be long and versatile with big upside. Len's lack of aggressiveness is a concern though, and he also needs to get stronger in the NBA.  He is recovering from ankle surgery but should be ready for the start of training camp.

5. Trey Burke - Michigan, point guard

Speed is the name of the game with Burke. He's great at running the pick-and-roll and can create for himself as well as his teammates. Folks will knock his size (6 ft) for a point guard, but look at Chris Paul.

6. Ben McLemore – Kansas, shooting guard 

He is one of the best shooters the draft has to offer, and we sure know New Orleans could use scoring.  McLemore's ball-handling skills need some work and he'll have to prove that he has more to offer than just offense.
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Atlanta radio host posts long apology to Steve Gleason
One of the Atlanta morning show hosts fired over an offensive "comedy" sketch has written a long piece to apologize for the parody skit that made fun of former Saints safety Steve Gleason and  his condition.  

Chris Dimino, one of the three employees fired from the "Mayhem in the Morning" show, wrote the following post on his Facebook page.  The full text of his post is below.  How do you feel about his apology?  Sound off below in the comments section (but please keep it clean, folks, this is a family-friendly station. 

Dimino's post:  
 
So where to begin. The obvious and rightful place is with an apology. And the reality of knowing that falls short...no matter what I say...is heartbreaking.
 
The sheer stupidity of trying to put this as a failed attempt at humor is not lost on me.
 
The words "Should have known better" mean nothing to me. And shouldn't to you right now
 
I would like to though offer my apology. Knowing that it is everyone's right not to accept it. Or even consider accepting it for now.
 
My apologies go out first to Steve Gleason and his family. The weight of what he and they are going through did not need to be made heavier or worse by the pure and straight insensitivity of my actions.
 
I also want to offer up my apologies to all who are not only dealing with ALS..but to those who are dealing with ANYTHING that has made themself or family and friends subject to the physical and emotional heartache of any debilitating disease or condition.
 
As a father of two girls, I put myself in a position that I have begged...pleaded..DEMANDED..they not put themselves in. That of the bully. The mean kid. The one who thinks what they say or do comes with no consequence. It does. It always does. 
 
I have no illusion as to what 19 years on the radio...30 years of being a grown man..and most importantly almost 10 years of being a father..and what you build up in your name and reputation over those periods of time..should and does mean. 
 
Now I know how quickly a stupid and worse than that non thinking moment can change all of it.
 
I hope I get a chance to prove this is not who I want to be. It was and is who "I am" today though. That much is not lost on me.
 
I have spent so long not trying to put other people in a bad place because of me. Today I failed miserably.
 
I'm very open to any and all dialogue as it pertains to the people I have hurt and disappointed. I've had that dialogue with myself..my wife and will with my kids. 
 
Thanks for at least this much of your time
 
Chris Dimino
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Steve: Can Will Restore The Thrill?
At the end of last season many analysts felt like it was the end of the line for Will Smith in black  and gold due to his age, decreased production  and inflated salary; but after renegotiating his contract to stay in New Orleans he enters 2013 right where he's always been... well, expect on the field.

After playing 9 seasons at defensive end in the NFL for the Saints, "Big Will" is moving to outside linebacker in new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan's 3-4 scheme.

"I have been in a lot of different systems throughout my career and had a lot of different defensive coaches, different styles, and different ways of going about things," Smith said.  "I'm pretty adaptable to different things and adjusting to different things, so I didn't think it would be that much of a challenge. I'm still rushing the passer. I'm still doing the same things I've always done. It just puts me in a better position than I was in last year."

While the pass rushing aspect will remain the same for Smith, now having to drop back into coverage is a responsibility that he doesn't think will be an added burden.

"Just watch the games from last year. I dropped back a bunch of times when I had to cover tight ends and a couple of receivers," says Smith.  "It's not something that I'm not familiar with, but I just haven't done it on a consistent basis. I did it earlier, when I first got here about nine years ago with Jim Haslett. He kind of went away from it, and then it came back. It's just something that I kind of need to get used to doing. I don't think it will be that difficult. I've played this base before."

At age 31 though, Smith isn't the same pass rusher.  So how in the world is he going to be able to hang in coverage with tight ends, wide receivers and running backs?  Is this experiment doomed for failure?   

We will find out more once the players are in full pads in training camp, but it's hard for me to imagine that guys like Junior Galette, Martez Wilson and Victor Butler aren't better suited to fill the role on this team.  All of them are younger, and you could say more talented at this stage of their respective careers.

(Photo by Chris Bennett)
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Steve: New Coordinator, new position, no problem for Hicks
You hear the moniker “gentle giant” used often to describe a player in sports that may be menacing in stature but is actually a very kind, easy going, and approachable person.  That description fits 2nd year defensive lineman Akiem Hick to a T.

The 6 ft 5 inch 324 pounder always seems to have a smile on his face, and is even becoming quite the trend setter in the locker room.

Hicks on his hairdo: “It’s really funny because last year, I think it was either around game 7 or game 8, I had brought it on to a real light small Mohawk.  Now mine’s been growing and everybody else is trying to catch up.  I’m not too mad about it, it’s all right.”
The Saints 2012 3rd round draft pick is looking to grow more than his hair in 2013.  

“Everybody’s is fighting for a job and everybody wants to play on Sunday,” Hicks says about the competition in practice. “Everybody is going to get reps but who is going to get the most, though.  It’s a competition and its need for the cream to rise to the top.”

In his rookie year Hicks played in 14 games and totaled 20 tackles with 1 forced fumble and 1 pass defended. You could really see his progression toward the end of the season, and he was one of the very few bright spots in the league’s worst defense. Now in year 2, a lot more will be expected from the 23-year-old who faces a new challenge of learning a new defensive scheme and position.  

After one season Steve Spagnulo was out as Saints defensive coordinator and Rob Ryan was hired to take his place.  The biggest difference between the two is that Spags ran a 4-3 scheme while Ryan uses a 3-4. Hicks will also be making the switch to defensive end from defensive tackle, but he insists it really isn’t that big a deal.  

“It’s been going really good,” says Hicks.  “I played a lot of defensive end in college so I’m pretty used to it.”

Certainly nothing is set in stone, and Hicks could end of playing nose tackle still.  But it was pretty clear after the Saints selected John Jenkins in the third round this year that they felt Akiem Hicks could better be utilized as an end.

His main competition for playing time at the defensive end position is Kenyon Coleman.   

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