Laying a Foundation

Published: June 9, 2013

Dry your eyes my little friend
Let me take you by the hand
Freddie get ready
Rock steady
When Johnny strikes up the band

— Warren Zevon, Johnny Strikes Up the Band


The New Orleans Pelicans are continuing to prepared for the offseason. While General Manager Dell Demps is in Europe scouting international prospects, his Assistant General Manager, Tim Connelly, is setting up draft prospect workouts at the Alario Center. The workouts are scheduled to start this week, and certainly by Friday with Burke.

Austin Rivers has joined Anthony Davis as players who were injured as Hornets who are now able to participate in basketball. Smith and Gordon, while not encumbered by slings and boots, remain restricted.

Darius Miller and Terrel Harris represented the Pelicans at a Make-A-Wish Foundation event here in New Orleans.

Over the past several seasons, New Orleans’ NBA franchise has worked in conjunction with the local Make-A-Wish Foundation, facilitating meetings between children and some of the basketball players they may only have seen on TV. The outstanding cause is something the team will continue to support during its new era as the New Orleans Pelicans.

On Thursday, June 6, Pelicans wing players Darius Miller and Terrel Harris were special guests at the Make-A-Wish Foundation’s charity fundraiser at New Orleans Rock N Bowl. The New Orleans reserves, who both debuted with the team in 2012-13, spent time bowling and meeting with numerous major contributors to the area’s Make-A-Wish efforts.

As many of his former Miami Heat teammates began play in Game 1 of the NBA Finals on TV sets overhead, the 25-year-old Harris registered a hard-fought 129-121 bowling victory over Miller, a 22-year-old NBA rookie last season.

Harris was gracious in victory, after holding on for the eight-pin triumph when Miller just missed a spare on his second ball of the 10th frame.

Also, about voluntary workouts:

Miller and Harris were in town also to participate in the ongoing voluntary workouts at the Alario Center. A group of Pelicans have been shuttling in and out of New Orleans to work out together, primarily Mondays through Thursdays over the past few weeks.

“We don’t have enough guys to play fullcourt yet, but we’ve been doing a lot of team stuff,” Harris described. “We’re doing a lot of individual development and then some team unity things with multiple players in one drill, to help us get used to each other as teammates.”

Additionally, Lance Thomas joined Mitch Landrieu at the ceremony to conclude Season 3 and start Season 4 of NOLA FOR LIFE Midnight Basketball. Here is the schedule.

Around the Site

Gerry V joins Bourbon Street Shots in writing this time. He gives his take on Game 1 of the 2013 NBA Finals, which is perhaps more important to the New Orleans Pelicans than may appear at first glance.

In this week’s In the NO, Michael and Ryan talk to Andrew Geiger of about Otto Porter. They also discuss a number of Pelicans prospects and some trades that could affect the team’s ability to compete. They also discuss the idea of trading the Pelican’s 2014 draft pick.

Michael did a fantastic, in-depth analysis of Dario Saric and his outlook for the Pelicans only to have Saric’s agent tell him that this may not be a possibility.

The Sixth Pick Tournament is round 2, so be sure to check out the matchups all week. For those fans near Baton Rouge, you can compare the results of the draft and the tournament at the Bourbon Street Shots 2013 NBA Draft Watch Party in Baton Rouge.

Lastly, if you want to see some drawings and fine detail of the New Orleans Arena renovations, we have you covered.

`Voices’ of the People

Ok, let me make this clear: I voted for Oladipo because he is the better player and in my opinion the best player for the Pels to take in this draft, but I’m going to make a case for Saric. If the top 5 miraculously goes as projected right now, should the Pels consider Saric? What Saric provides: He provides ball handling, playmaking, and leadership for the Pelicans. He fills the huge need at SF and has a great size advantage over the average SF. He is also an outstanding passer, something I was surprised with by watching many highlight videos. Weaknesses: Athleticism, athleticism, athleticism. This leads to all his other weaknesses. How can we count on him to defend a Melo or Durant? They will fly right by him every time with his terrible quickness and agility. He will also be unable to get by defenders like Durant, making him have to settle for his below average jumper. My choice, assuming Noel, Mclemore, Burke, Porter, and Oladipo are gone, would be between MCW, KCP, and McCollum (not really sure which I like the most, I will have to see their workouts and such. In fact, I probably like all three more than Burke). But say Saric has a workout and shoots lights out? He’s definitely a possibility.


Burke is benefiting from the same hype that got Kemba and Flynn drafted as high as they were. He’s a good player but what does he offer the team? If our main weakness is perimeter D how does Burke improve that area for us? I couldn’t vote for Burke against any of these guys except Schoeder. Every other option is better than taking Burke because he’s an intangibles guy and we already have enough intangibles guys on this team in Jason Smith and Ryno and even Darius Miller.


“but the Heat players getting together in spite of all Billionaire Bridge Club really appeals to the imp in me. Irritating as it is, they laid their plans, took the pay cuts, won their title, and are a-rollin’ still.”

Perfectly said. The victory celebrations after the Decision were ghastly. But these guys played by the rules (potential tampering aside) and flipped FA on its head. I can’t think of anyone else ever doing anything like that.

As for the series, if a Spurs win means Duncan/Pop/Manu retire, then Go Spurs Go. Really though, I want 7 games like game 1. Watching James play is absolute joy. And the Spurs are just magnificent on the court.


42 Sense

Three former Hornets are in the running for the new Twyman-Stokes Teammate of the Year Award: Jarrett Jack, Emeka Okafor, and Roger Mason, Jr.

That’s why the NBA chose to honor them with an annual award to recognize the league’s “ideal teammate.” The announcement and presentation of the Twyman-Stokes Teammate of the Year Award will be made before Game 2 of the 2013 Finals Sunday evening at AmericanAirlines Arena.
The winner was chosen from a vote of NBA players. Ballots featured 12 nominees, six from each conference selected by a panel of NBA Legends according to selfless play, on- and off-court leadership as a mentor and role model to other NBA players and his commitment and dedication to his team.

Finalists for the inaugural Twyman/Stokes Award were Jerry Stackhouse (Brooklyn Nets), Luke Walton (Cleveland Cavaliers), Andre Iguodala (Denver Nuggets), Jarrett Jack (Golden State Warriors), Roy Hibbert (Indiana Pacers), Chauncey Billups (Los Angeles Clippers), Shane Battier (Miami Heat), Roger Mason, Jr. (New Orleans Hornets), Jason Kidd (New York Knicks), Serge Ibaka (Oklahoma City Thunder), Manu Ginobili (San Antonio Spurs), and Emeka Okafor (Washington Wizards).

A point system was used — 10 points for a first-place vote, seven for second, five for third, three for fourth and one for fifth. Players were not allowed to vote for a player on their own team.

I strongly encourage everyone to read they story behind the award’s eponyms at the link above.

From the NBA’s perspective, this award may signal a culture change they are trying to spur, but it’s certainly a PR move . . . something to mitigate the dings they receive for their oft-perceived over-focus on individuals.

For the New Orleans Pelicans, this is actually great news. Of the 12 nominees, 3 played for Monty Williams, and one is on the team now. Monty did not make these guys who they are. That rests on their parents, themselves, and numerous people close to them, but Monty was in the mix and was so recently. Dell had a hand in bringing in two of them, as well.

Emeka receives some criticism, but he also does not get nearly enough credit for his quiet game, a point I made to Washington writers last summer:

In short, Chukwuemeka Noubuisi Okafor brings straight B’s. He’s Mario (of Brothers’ fame) without the glitz, and now is appropriately in red, white and blue. No mushroom, no fire flower, no star power (of any kind). He’s a reliable, productive player who gets ‘his’ pretty quietly and consistently, with an annual ‘break the chains’ kind of game. He’s a balanced player with defensive leanings and lacks anything remotely like offensive explosiveness. He even lacks those little things you throw at the ground that go “pop” pretty weakly.

. . .

Enjoy Emeka. He’s a good player and good guy. He deserves more respect than he gets.

That last bit there was quoted a few times.

Personally, I’m rooting for Emeka tonight.

Update: Billups won.

Here is an article arguing Emeka’s case against that of the other 11 candidates.

This is not taking anything away from Mason or Jack. Both are leaders and teammates simultaneously in their own ways.

The larger issue for the Pelicans is that this culture change talk is not just lip service. This is undeniable evidence of how important culture is the Pelicans.

This is all reinforced by

  • Monty’s extension
  • Dell’s extension
  • The distancing of Marcus Banks from the Hornets
  • The evolution of Smith, Belinelli, Jack, Landry, Aminu
  • The rise of Mike Malone

There are other, less public, instances of this, as well, but let it suffice to say that this culture is important to the Pelicans as our culture here is to New Orleans.

Some will point to Emeka’s contract with the Wizards and Jack’s with the Warrior’s (expiring) as evidence that culture is not important, since they are not on the team. Those moves were cap-related. They just took their improvements with them and are being recognized to some degree for that.

Going in to the active part of the off-season, look for character and cultural fit to play into the draft and other acquisitions, at least in the end . . . we all know Dell trades to set up trades, so mind the gap. Having the right foundation is important. Start of incorrectly, and you may not notice until you team is being built. Even then, you may not notice . . . the Leaning Tower of Pisa looks fine from some angles, after all.

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