Monty Williams isn’t exactly in a place that should make him comfortable.
With nine games to play, he’s in the unenviable position of choosing not just between developing young players and making veteran players happy, but between winning and losing.
A competitor always, Williams has had to choose development and losing over veterans and winning.
And in the long run, he’ll be that much more successful because of it.
Not that he doesn’t know this.
“My position as a head coach carries a number of objectives and part of that is doing what is right for the organization,” Williams said Tuesday. “It doesn’t help me out. (It) doesn’t help my record.”
The Hornets, though, sit eight games better than Charlotte for the worst record in the NBA. They’re two games better than Washington, three games worse than Cleveland and four worse than Sacramento.
Success now comes with losing and now comes with developing younger players who, with the right coaching, could turn into something more than end-of-bench dwellers.
That means playing Al-Farouq Aminu extended minutes instead of Trevor Ariza.
That means using more Lance Thomas, more Xavier Henry and more Greivis Vasquez.
That means seeing Carl Landry play coming off an injury to see how hard he’ll go.
A potential game-changing No. 1 pick is out there this year and the Hornets are fighting for more lottery balls, which would give them more chances at striking it rich with that top pick.
That comes with losses, however, and over the final nine games, New Orleans will face seven different opponents, four teams which have a winning record and are fighting for playoff positioning.
Certainly the Hornets shouldn’t tank the games. That would be, as Williams likes to say, disrespecting the game.
But they can certainly put their worst foot forward by playing younger guys unused to the late-season swing and unused to close games in the clutch.
New Orleans has lost 15 games by 6-10 points and another 11 by five or fewer.
They lack seasoning and a closer, what with Eric Gordon missing three months with a knee injury and now going day-to-day with a tight lower back.
“There’s an old adage – If you’re teaching you’re not coaching. And if you’re not coaching you’re not winning,” Williams said. “And we’ve spent a lot of time teaching guys this year.”
Only nine more games to teach and hopefully bring back to New Orleans its best chance at the top overall pick since the 2004-05 season.
While the Hornets didn’t get the No. 1 pick that season, they did get Chris Paul. And in the years following he guided the franchise to one of its best runs ever.