Snyder, Butler getting fresh start
Snyder, Butler getting fresh start
Both welcome chance to play for Hornets
Wednesday, August 10, 2005
By Benjamin Hochman
Much fanfare surrounded the Hornets' Aug. 2 acquisition of Kirk Snyder and Rasual Butler.
In a five-team, 13-player swap, New Orleans traded a player who's never worn a Hornets uniform for Utah's Snyder, the No. 16 pick in the 2004 draft, and Miami's Butler.
But there is an underlying reality -- their teams didn't want them.
After one tumultuous season, Utah dumped Snyder. But the NBA sophomore, who met with the media Tuesday along with Butler, says he is ready for a fresh start.
"It's like you don't want to say anything bad about the other team where you were, but I'm glad to be here. It's been a process to get here," said Snyder, who was obtained after New Orleans traded the rights to Spanish center Roberto Duenas. "I'm a real passionate person, and I really believe in team first, 'I' second. That's something that people should know about me -- I'm not a selfish guy."
As a rookie, the 6-foot-6 Snyder averaged 5.0 points in 13.3 minutes per game. And he had numerous run-ins with Jerry Sloan, the NBA's longest-tenured coach.
He was benched and reprimanded by Sloan on March 29 for apparently taunting the Houston Rockets. In that game, Snyder played well, but Utah lost by 14. Snyder got into a postgame fistfight with Dallas' Jerry Stackhouse on April 9. And on the court, Snyder had trouble adapting to the offense involving isolation plays set up by the pick-and-roll.
Just 20 days ago, Sloan lambasted Snyder's play for Utah's team in the Reebok Rocky Mountain Revue summer league.
"For whatever reason, Kirk's struggled in a lot of these games," Sloan told the Deseret Morning News. "In just about all aspects of the game -- defense, rebounding, running the floor, shooting the ball."
Snyder isn't dwelling on that. The guard-forward said he is excited about fitting into a new offense. And he even made sure to compliment Sloan, calling him "one of the best coaches still coaching."
As for what he learned from last year?
"You don't deal with coaches -- coaches deal with you," Snyder said. "You look at it from a business side of things. You let the coach coach and you play. When you get it mixed up with all the other stuff and all the things that can distract you, then you might be in trouble."
The Hornets aren't dwelling, either. Issues that Snyder had in Utah were exactly that -- issues in Utah.
"Relationships are formed on a day-to-day basis, and his relationship with us started the day we acquired him," said Jeff Bower, the Hornets' director of player personnel. "Kirk comes in here like every other player. His play, his attitude, what we know is what we see. That's our approach. We will make our opinions on his time here."
The 6-foot-7 Butler, who averaged 6.5 points in 18.5 minutes per game for Miami last season, said he had "mixed emotions" about being traded from a championship contender. But he put it in perspective when asked about his memories of the 2004 Hornets-Heat playoff series.
"I remember not playing a lot and wanting to play," Butler said. "Now, I'm coming here with that opportunity."
On the day of the trade, "I had just finished praying, asking what my next step was at this level. When I finished, my agent called and told me I was traded. So this is where I'm supposed to be."
Butler said New Orleans coaches are excited about his versatility, telling him that his defensive skills will be just as important as his shooting skills.
"It's refreshing just speaking with (Butler and Snyder) -- to see their attitudes," Bower said. "And to see how hungry they are as players, how excited they are to be here and really take on the challenge of playing roles that are vitally important to the success of this franchise."
And at least the Hornets will get more out of the duo this year than they would have from Duenas.
"I think that's safe to say," Bower said. "But he proved to be a very valuable person for us."
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