Starless Night

Published: February 2, 2014

Living in the limelight
The universal dream
For those who wish to seem
Those who wish to be
Must put aside the alienation
Get on with the fascination
The real relation
The underlying theme

— Rush, Limelight

New Orleans Pelicans News

In seeming tribute to David West, the New Orleans Pelicans had another “and one” week, going 3-1 after their 2-1 week prior to that. They sit at 20-26, goof for 12th in the West, 6 games from the 8th seed with 36 games left to play. They are 11th in the lottery slotting, giving a 0.029 probability of landing a top 3 pick, 0.971 chance of sending their first rounder to Philadelphia as part of the acquisition of Jrue Holiday last summer. they are 5-10 since the Boston game where Anderson went down, but 5-2 in the past 2 weeks.

The 100-92 win over Orlando, the Pelicans just outplayed the rebuilding Magic. Four New Orleans players were in double figures, with two scoring over 20: Davis (22), Evans (23). Oladipo, Afflalo, and Harris had good games for Orlando, potentially giving a glimpse at their future. Also, Ajinca had 4 fouls in just under 8 minutes. Withey had as many in just under 23 minutes.

Victory over the Cavaliers was not as systematic, as it was on the back of strong second and third quarters (30-15, 27-21) that the Pelicans built their 100-89 victory. The key stretch was a 18-3 last 6 minutes of the second quarter. 6 fouls in 48 minutes for Ajinca and Stiemsma.

The loss of the week was brought to you by the Minnesota Timberwolves. The team was without Anthony Davis for this game, and Minnesota pretty steadily cruised to a 88-77 victory, holding the Pelicans to under 20 points in 3 of 4 quarters. Withey, Stiemsma, and Ajinca had 10 fouls in a little over 70 minutes, with Ajinca netting 4 in about 16 minutes.

The 88-79 victory over the depleted Bulls completed the season sweep. The team built a nice lead in the second quarter and held onto that through the second half. The key run was 14-3 in the first 6 minutes of that quarter. Davis was a monster, but the other bigs returned to their fouling ways: 12 fouls in 56 minutes.

For those keeping track, that’s 36 fouls in about 200 minutes, or about a foul every 5.5 player-minutes over about 50 player-minutes per game. This is extremely high.

Davis missed the Timberwolves game with a dislocated left index finger, but he returned to play against the Bulls. Also, Davis was not selected for the Western Conference All-Star roster. More on that below.

While the team has not commented on Smith’s injury or surgery in some time, Jason Smith himself had the following to say on Wednesday:

Successful surgery! On the road to recovery! #TurntUp #Pelicans #CantWait #LetsGeauxPelicans #NYC…

This was surgery to clean up some loose cartilage in his knee. It’s possible it was just a cleanup / clear-out, but sometimes doctors need to call an audible. Let’s just hope it went well and Smith will be back to 100% for the rest of his career. I personally hope that will be in New Orleans, for what it is worth . . . he is in the last season of his current deal, and he is not eligible for an extension.

The team has not officially commented either way at this point, but there are reports that the Pelicans have used their 15th and final roster spot to sign Luke Babbitt, who is expected to report Tuesday. The deal is reportedly for 2 seasons (this being one) for the minimum salary, with the second being a team option. Babbitt was a first round pick (16th) for the Timberwolves, who then included him in a deal with the Trail Blazers for Martell Webster. His fourth year option was declined, and he played in Russia for part of this season after not being picked up by an NBA team. The Pelicans have reached a buyout, presumably involving the profit from the Tyshawn Taylor exchange (Bolshoe spasibo, Brooklyn, Mother Russia).

You can study up on Babbitt at basketball reference, us basket, and draft express.

I find it interesting how this story is so self-connected . . . the Blazers had Taylor and Babbitt. Both were then on Russian-owned teams. It signifies nothing, but it is just a reminder about how many connections there are in this marketplace . . . a reminder of the potential complexity.

Also, it has been rumored that the Smoothie King will buy / has bought the naming rights for the New Orleans Arena, changing its name to Smoothie King Center. There is also now a new Smoothie king on the 100 level of the Arena / Center.

Around Bourbon Street Shots

In this week’s In the NO, Ryan and Michael discuss, among other things, Davis’s fantastic play and the desire to see him and Holiday on the court together.

Austin Rivers has improved, as we can all clearly see, and Ryan has summed up some results reinforcing this.

In this week’s Trew 2 the Game, Chris pulls together some info on the Davis v Davis dunk.

Lastly, Nick has continued his series on trade economics, this time looking at various kinds of values players have.

`Voices’ of the People

I am a massive proponent of Rivers starting over Roberts. HOWEVER, Roberts played his best game of the season on the defensive end of the floor tonight in the second half. The +/- and 2/4 AST/TO won’t show it, but tonight he was the better man. First time I can actually say I think he defended better than Austin in a half in quite a while.


I have to give credit to Stiemsma. He played a solid game. Monty is a genius for knowing that this would happen.

Zero turnovers for Gordon (as well as Davis and Stiemsma and Miller and Morrow). The wild swings in his performance lately are mind-boggling…..

I love to see Davis’ competitiveness, but returning to the game with taped fingers does not seem wise. I sure hope he stays healthy. I would have rather seen Withey mop up those last few minutes.

Missed our only winning third quarter in recent memory due to power outage. Damn you, Entergy!


Kobe’s not playing in the game, right? That should mean Harden, Parker or Paul moves up and Davis gets in, right? Or Chris Paul may be out with his injury and Davis gets in. Somehow I also think Davis will get in that game, and he should be the first alternate selection if someone is out with injury. As of now though, I don’t think he got snubbed. If we’re talking about snubs and people who shouldn’t be there, Lance Stephenson and Joe Johnson…

One thing I found weird about the West though: in a league where a lot of the top players are Small Forwards, only one SF is on the West’s roster (Durant) while 3 of them start on the East. Maybe Davis didn’t get in becausethe West has 4 PFs on the team?

Jason Quigley

42 Sense

As noted above, Anthony Davis did not make the selection for the All-Star Game roster, at least per the usual procedure. This has been viewed as a snub and may be surprising to some (but not everyone). For those unfamiliar, there are 12 spots for All-Stars for each Conference. The 5 starting slots are assigned by fan vote, and they are allowed to pick 2 backcourt players and 3 frontcourt players from an extensive list. The remaining seven slots are determined via a vote by NBA coaches. The coaches are not allowed to vote for players on the roster of the team they coach. Coaches’ voting is limited to players in their own Conference. Coaches vote for seven players: at least 2 backcourt players, at least 3 frontcourt players.

In the West, the starters are Kobe Bryant, Stephan Curry, Kevin Durant, Blake Griffin, and Kevin Love. The reserves are LaMarcus Aldridge, James Harden, Dwight Howard, Damian Lillard, Dirk Nowitzki, Tony Parker, and Chris Paul.

As you can see, the coaches voted in the minimum 3 frontcourt players and the maximum 4 backcourt players, leading to a 6-6 split on the 12-man roster.

Given that this is slightly off from the expected 5-7 split (more frontcourt players), and the injuries to chosen guards Bryant and Paul, it is possible that Anthony Davis could still be entered into an All-Star Game roster by the third selection phase: the commissioner, now Adam Silver, will choose the injury replacements. Kobe Bryant has stated that he will not play in the All-Star Game while Chris Paul may play. West coach Scott Brooks would name the replacement starter in Kobe’s case.

So, passed-over frontcourt players could be named to rosters, and Anthony Davis has a chance. There is no mandate that replacements follow some positional restriction. In fact, in 2009, the were 4 injury replacements needed, all for guards (Kobe Bryant, Allen Iverson, Chris Paul, Brandon Roy), and they were replaced by 2 guards and 2 big men (Chauncey Billups, Jason Kidd, Chris Kaman, David Lee).

Davis’ play is clearly in his favor for being selected, and some would suggest that it being held in New Orleans should be ad advantage for him, as well. To me, that smacks of politics (for lack of a better word), and that could very well be the reason he is not in at the moment. Davis has yet to play on a winning team and does not have a winning record in the games he’s played in. While this is likely more of a statement of the state of the team / franchise that he is signed to, the All-Star reserves from West are from teams with at least 55% wins (as of today), and those from both conferences are from teams that are in the top 8 of their conference. Of course, a different person is making this decisions, so maybe the criteria are different.

While Davis would be personally validated by inclusion on the roster (he said he was disappointed by his exclusion), as would the franchise to some extent, it is not a cost-free award.

The biggest cost to the franchise is the potential triggering of a higher maximum salary allowed to Davis in the contract taking effect in his 5th year. In most cases, maximum allowed salary is a function of time in the NBA and had 3 tiers: 0 – 6 years, 7 – 9 years, and 10 or more years. Going into his 5th year, Davis is eligible for the smallest maximum contract, but this can be elevated to the level of a 7 – 9 year player if one of the following is met, per Larry Coon:

  • Named to the All-NBA First, Second or Third team at least twice
  • Voted as a starter in the All-Star game at least twice
  • Named the NBA Most Valuable Player at least once

Davis has yet to meet any of these criteria, but being named an All-Star this season would almost certainly be an indicator that’d he’d be named one in one of the following 2 seasons if he remains healthy. Missing selection this season still leaves open the possibility of him being named to the team in 2015 and 2016 in New York and Toronto, of course. That being the case lowers the cost of making it this season, but the cost is still there. Also, there is possibility of him making the All-NBA teams, which are chosen by the AP, during the next three selection rounds. 15 players are chosen from across the NBA for these teams.

It could be argued that playing in the All-Star Game increases injury potential, but this is highly unlikely. One could also cling to the idea that somehow being left off the list would help him stay “under the radar” of other teams, but he’s on their radar already, and it’s clear.

It has been mentioned by readers and followers that Davis may hold the organization or market responsible for his not being included on the list already. While this is certainly possible, other statistically notable players have been left off the roster, some of whom play for teams with very good records. I am of the opinion that the state of the franchise several years from now is much more important for Davis deciding if New Orleans is the place for him to play when the time comes than this non-nod, but I could be wrong.

On the plus side of him not being named, it has been mentioned will try `show’ the voters why they made a mistake. It’s possible. It is also conceivable that the rest of the team and franchise see that they potentially have a role in what they judge to be an injustice. Such a reckoning could lift their efforts.

Everything has a cost, and sometimes there are hidden benefits in what appears to be a negative happening.

Davis could very well be named an injury replacement, and that could make him happy, but it could also leave him hungry since his nomination would depend on a freak occurrence. That could be the best possible outcome, all totaled.

One Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.