It's early, to be sure. Training camp doesn't even begin until today in Lafayette. But, not surprisingly, Hornets owner George Shinn talked at media day Monday at the New Orleans Arena about his team's ultimate goal heading into the 2009-10 season.
As expected, Shinn is shooting for the stars, coming off a disappointing 2008-09 in which the Hornets were picked by some to win an NBA title.
"I could sense their attitude changing," Shinn said of the team's mood a year ago as it was coming off its first Southwest Division championship. "I don't know if it was, 'Well, we're going to coast through this.' I don't know what it was. It wasn't the same type of fire and positive attitude.
"But this year, I feel the same type of feeling of a strong attitude. I feel good. I talked to the players just a while ago and talked to them about the importance of all of us believing. We're a team together. We've got to work together. And to make this happen, we've all got to believe."
Shinn stressed that he's dreaming of not just bigger things this season, but the biggest thing.
"I've been doing this over 20 years, and this is the best team yet," he said. "This is our best chance to win a championship. That's all we're thinking about.
"We're not just thinking about getting into the playoffs; we're thinking totally about championship. That's what it's all about."
STOJAKOVIC 'FEELING GOOD': Small forward Peja Stojakovic returned to New Orleans with more hair on his face than his head, thanks to a short-cropped hairdo.
But Stojakovic said he has arrived feeling recovered from the nagging back spasms that hindered him throughout last season and reduced his effectiveness.
"I'm feeling good, but it has been 4 1/2 months since I played any organized Basketball," Stojakovic said. "I needed that to recover from last season. I feel right. Pain free. Which was important for me to enter the training camp with no pain in my back."
Stojakovic spent the summer at his home in Greece, working on his core, he said, to strengthen his midsection. He also swam a great deal in the Mediterranean, exercise that produced no additional stress on his back.
"I really believe I can still play good Basketball," said Stojakovic, who's entering his 12th NBA season. "The main thing for me is to stay healthy. That was the most frustrating thing for me, not being able to focus on the Basketball when I was on the court, rather I was thinking which way to step, how to land, how would I feel at halftime or how I'd feel when I got out of the chair after sitting seven minutes.
"Those are things I'd rather not have in my head, but I still believe I can be a productive Basketball player."
Last season, Stojakovic averaged 12.3 points per game in 61 regular-season games, his lowest point total in nine years.
POSEY PLAYED HURT: No one knew it, but Hornets forward James Posey played all but the first two games of last season with torn meniscus cartilage in his right knee.
Posey, who underwent surgery to repair the damage in late May, recalled Monday when and where the injury took place.
"In Game 3 here (a home opener against the Cleveland Cavaliers), I came down, had a couple shots -- and I was on that left wing," Posey said, pointing to the end of the floor where the Hornets' bench is located. "I was fouled, but I thought I was going to have more contact -- and I came down awkward.
"My knee buckled. I went to the free-throw line, then I started moving, and then I subbed myself out. I went straight to the back, and I just sat in the hallway. It just didn't feel right. The docs came back and checked it out. Afterward I had an MRI, and they told me what happened."
Posey said doctors assured him he would do no additional damage to the knee by playing. So he taped it up and padded it each contest -- for 72 more regular-season games and five in the playoffs -- and continued to play.
He had the surgery in Miami on May 22, performed by Miami Heat team physician Harlan Selesnick. Posey played two years with the Heat.
"I feel good," Posey said. "With the surgery and the rehab, now I'm just worried about my conditioning. I haven't played all summer, just little drills here and there. I'm anxious. I guess I was just saving everything up for going to camp."
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Jimmy Smith can be reached at email@example.com or 504.826.3814.