'Zo it goes
?No mourning, please. The Nov. 3 trade sending All-Star center Alonzo Mourning to the Heat for forward Glen Rice, center Matt Geiger and guard Khalid Reeves makes the Hornets a different kind of team but not necessarily a lesser one. Their center-by-committee—Geiger, Robert Parish and pleasantly surprising rookie George Zidek—won't hurt them too much in a pivot-poor division.
? Rice is nice. The Hornets will make up for Mourning's loss on D by stepping up their offense, with Rice (19.3-point career average) and guard Kendall Gill (a former Hornet reacquired from the Seattle SuperSonics) bombing from outside while forward Larry Johnson shoulders more of the load around the hoop.
?Added dividend. Reeves. He can spell point guard Muggsy Bogues (out until mid-December after knee surgery), which allows coach Allan Bristow to keep Gill in the shooting-guard spot, his natural position.
?Outlook. Higher scores but probably at or near last season's 50 victories.
Restarting the engine
? Best acquisition. Doug Collins. He last coached in the NBA in 1989 (with the Bulls), but Collins says he kept up through his analyst's job with Turner Sports. Says former Detroit coach Chuck Daly, "I think you can project him as coach of the year."
?Second-best acquisition. In veteran Otis Thorpe, the Pistons got from the Portland Trail Blazers a powerful rebounder and defensive stopper. "We've got enough finesse players," said Collins. "We need some dirty-work guys." If that sounds like a message to small forward and last season's co-Rookie of the Year Grant Hill, so be it. Rugged rookies Theo Ratliff and Lou Roe give Hill plenty of banging in practice.
?Breakthrough player. Third-year shooting guard Allan Houston. He led the Pistons in scoring in 13 of the team's final 24 games last season and moved his scoring average from 8.5 to 14.5.
?Outlook. Under Collins, the Pistons won't regain their Bad Boys' image or level of success, but they also won't be a team that can easily be pushed around.