Atlanta's (Racially) Confusing Rise to the Top

The Atlanta Hawks are in a very odd situation.  Despite sitting atop the Eastern Conference with a 29-8 record, the franchise finds itself up for sale.  It all started in September when majority owner Bruce Levenson “self-reported” a bigoted e-mail he sent out regarding the Hawks’ predominantly African-American fanbase.  Amidst the backlash from the Donald Sterling disaster, Levenson tried to save face and immediately declared that he would sell the team.

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Trouble Buzzing in Charlotte

The Charlotte Hornets are looking to take another step forward.  Last year, they made the playoffs for the second time under the reign of Michael Jordan, but were swept out by LeBron James and the Miami Heat.  So the team went to work this offseason, quickly signing the gifted-but-combustible Lance Stephenson away from the Indiana Pacers.  They also added Marvin Williams to replace Josh McRoberts as the starting power forward and drafted a physical specimen in Noah Vonleh and a knockdown shooter in P.J. Hairston.

Charlotte has most of its core returning from last season and is looking to grow into a legitimate contender.  But will these moves be enough to make the Charlotte Hornets one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference this year?  ESPN’s Forecast Panel has them projected to finish 5th in the East, but there are some signs that indicate it won’t be quite so easy to duplicate a trip to the playoffs.

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