News » Hornets have a lot of what Diogu needs

Hornets have a lot of what Diogu needs

Hornets have a lot of what Diogu needs It wasn't mainly about money, because the Hornets didn't have much of it to offer.

Security didn't much factor in, either. Ike Diogu as much as said he got a one-year deal from the Hornets , and that he'll be on the free-agent market again next season.

Time is what Diogu was after, and what the Hornets offered. Because time, more than anything else, is what it really boils down to.

Any athlete worth his jersey wants to play, wants to feel like he's a part of what's happening, wants to feel like he has contributed to the success and had some control over his fate.

So we remain unsure if Diogu actually is a legitimate NBA player, but we know for certain that he's convinced he is, and we're going to have a chance to find out. Because finally, he's going to get the time and opportunity to prove it.

"I haven't really had too many opportunities with the previous teams I've been with," Diogu said, and that's saying a little something because he has been with four. "So I'm just really excited to show everybody that I belong in the league, and that I was worthy of being taken ninth overall (by Golden State) in 2005.

"It's not a logjam at the big-man position (in New Orleans). They do have big men, but there's not six big men down low like it was in Portland (last season). That was one of (the Hornets' ) needs; they said they wanted to add more depth in the frontcourt.

"If you look at their roster on paper, everything looks pretty good. So it's all on me, (and) that's basically all I'm looking for -- the opportunity for it to be on me."

Only he and his previous teams -- Golden State, Indiana, Portland and Sacramento -- know the inside story on why he didn't fit there. Only those parties know why those unions weren't productive, each side obviously having a different perspective on the failure.

But it really doesn't matter if it was coach, system, injury or philosophy. All that matters is that Diogu was a square peg when those teams thought they had round holes.

The Hornets could be his square hole.

"For them to bring me in after everything that's happened, I can't really thank them enough," he said. "It's a nice new beginning for me. I'm just ready to prove to everybody that I belong. That's my main thing, just silencing the critics and coming out and doing what I know I can do."

Heaven knows New Orleans needs him. If he can be counted on for 6.1 points and 3.1 rebounds in 12.4 minutes per game, his career averages in four seasons, that will be solid.

It won't get him any Sixth Man of the Year votes, won't place him on anyone's Most Improved Player list. But it will be more than the Hornets have come to expect from any one player backing up All-Star David West at power forward, and if it seems a tad embarrassing that such modest numbers would be welcomed, well, low expectations are better than no expectations.

The Hornets and Diogu are convinced he can do more than that.

"We feel that Ike adds a very important element to our team," General Manager Jeff Bower said. "His ability to score in the post, to rebound the ball in traffic, are things that we really felt were important to continue to add to our team, and we're really excited about the prospects of gaining those things.

"We have a high, high degree of confidence in what Ike can provide. We do that based on watching him over the years, looking at his potential, watching him through the initial years of his career. We have a lot of certainty that the best is yet to come with Ike."

That's a safe assumption, considering there isn't much in Diogu's NBA past. He has played in 187 of 328 possible regular-season games, including only 29 of 82 last season. But the final two of the season -- 32 points and 11 rebounds against Denver, and 28 points and 13 rebounds against Minnesota -- were monster games.

"I think that's what happens when you give me an opportunity to showcase what I can do," Diogu said. "It's tough to get out there and play four minutes and then get subbed out. But when you get me consistent time, I feel like I can put together consistent games."

The Hornets didn't give him great money or much security. But consistent time, they have.

All Diogu has to do is make the most of it.

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John DeShazier can be reached at or 504.826.3410.

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Added: July 31, 2009


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