New Orleans Pelicans Trade Pierre Jackson for Russ Smith

Published: June 26, 2014

For months, we have known that Pierre Jackson would never play for the Pelicans. Dell Demps and Monty Williams had no interest in bringing him over least season when injuries decimated this roster, and Monty was not exactly praising him when Pierre came in to workout this past month. Now, one year after acquiring his rights from the Philadelphia 76ers, the Pelicans ironically sent him back to Philadelphia in exchange for Louisville PG Russ Smith.

Smith was a First Team AP All-American this past year for Louisville, averaging 18.2 points and 4.6 assists with 2 steals per game, as he shot 52% from two and 39% from three on 5 attempts per game. Gradually, he has improved his outside stroke while improving his court vision, and as a result he had an extremely productive season in his senior year. But Smith excels on the defensive end, and that is where he will make his mark early in his NBA career. His lateral quickness is exceptional, as are his instincts, and he is one of the toughest players for his size (or any size) that you will ever see.

He is in the mold of a Tyronn Lue or Patrick Beverely, but potentially with better offense. If you don’t look at this trade as Pierre for Smith, but rather just a choice of – Who would you rather have for this roster? – then Russ Smith is the no brainer pick. Both guys are slight of build, but Smith has NBA height and plays with more discipline on the offensive end and ten times the tenacity on the defensive end. Because of his weight (just over 160 pounds), he would likely struggle to defend some of the bigger point guards in the NBA, but for 10-12 minutes a night, he can be a hound on that side of the ball that will give backup guards nightmares.

Ironically, like Pierre, the narrative leading up to the draft was that if Smith was just a few inches taller, he could have been a high 1st round pick. But he is not. He is a player with a limited ceiling because of his size and that ceiling is as a tenacious backup PG who can get his teammates involved, attack the rim with reckless abandon, and get hot from three on occasion. Sounds perfect for what this team needs. And when you factor in that he is a 23 year old college senior, coming from a winning program, then you can see him in the rotation as early as next year. And that is probably more than you could have said for Pierre Jackson with this particular Pelicans team.

Other Notes

Russ Smith was first – Yes FIRST – in points per 40 minutes pace adjusted amongst all point guards drafted this year. And it was by a significant margin. First round picks Marcus Smart and Shabazz Napier finished 3rd and 4th, a full 3 points behind Smith.

Russ Smith was first – Yes FIRST – amongst all drafted PG’s this year in Three Pointers Attempted Per 40 pace adjusted and finished 2nd in TS%, just a touch behind Napier and 2nd in Steals per 40, just behind Marcus Smart. His 26.3 PER was behind only Marcus Smart’s 27.3 PER amongst the PG’s drafted in this class.

Russ Smith finished as Louisville’s All-Time Leader in steals and that is one of the biggest reasons he led the NCAA in transition opportunities created this past year. That is where Smith thrives, and he is absolutely fearless going to the hole, both in the open court and in half court.

A Statistical Model that shows Russ Smith as the 16th best prospect in this draft, right ahead of Noah Vonleh.

As a side note, make no mistake, another move is coming and it will likely see Austin Rivers heading out. He has to be moved to create the space to absorb Asik, and unless the Pelicans can find a deal for Gordon or get blown away on a deal featuring Ryno, then Rivers will be the guy. I don’t know if Russ Smith can be a 12-15 minute per game backup right away, but he can compete for the job and he might even win it. Again, that is something Pierre Jackson couldn’t have done when you consider what Monty is looking for.

Enjoy the DraftExpress Video and we will have more in the days to come. (Note: Video was made after his Junior season.  He took another stop senior year)


  1. yaboytonez

    June 26, 2014 at 11:53 pm

    Beverly with better offense, sounds good.

  2. Michael McNamara

    June 26, 2014 at 11:58 pm

    yaboytonez Needs to add weight and experience to be as good defensively, but can get there

  3. nolafredo

    June 27, 2014 at 12:10 am

    Never thought Pierre Jackson was coming given how hot he was in the NBDL and yet how cold Monty/Dell were to it. So this is turning nothing into something.
    And yes, this screams like step 1 in a multiple-step move.  Unless Smith is going into the NBDL doghouse, this is a move to plug into a backup guard spot.  At best this is because we are moving Eric Gordon (doubt it).  At worst, this is an insurance move in case Anthony Morrow is gone (hope not).  More likely, it’s the Austin Rivers to the Clippers for a 2nd round pick and space. (Picking the Clips so Austin can go play for his Dad).

  4. 504ever

    June 27, 2014 at 12:11 am

    At this point, I am more concerned about Rivers and understanding all of the cap stuff.  I liked the idea of Pierre as a change of pace, Isaiah Thomas type guy, but I am happy to see how Russ Smith plays out.

  5. DGaines22

    June 27, 2014 at 12:11 am

    Wasn’t sure about the trade at first but after thinking about I can of like the potential of a Patrick Beverley but either Smith or Jackson should be an upgrade over Roberts

  6. yaboytonez

    June 27, 2014 at 12:11 am

    Fingers crossed.

  7. taylorford88

    June 27, 2014 at 12:35 am

    yaboytonez If any team scouts thought he was Beverly 2.0 he would have been a lottery pick. Him falling to mid-2nd tells me not many think he is close to Beverly.

  8. mateor

    June 27, 2014 at 12:36 am

    Happy with this trade. Russ probably headed to Europe.

  9. Pelican Poster

    June 27, 2014 at 12:45 am

    This cat is a confident dude, almost too confident.  Will drive into a brick wall (and maybe score and get fouled!) Watching him play last year I felt he was truly a difference maker for that team.  I think he is a great pickup for the Pels.

  10. bucklezzzman

    June 27, 2014 at 2:05 am

    Confident, fearless, perimeter defender, and CHAMPION. I can dig it.

    Side note: Monty made a good point near the end of the year in reference to the Pels racking up blocked shots.. said it was because the guards werent the best at pressing the balll, allowing the opposition to get in the paint frequently, leading to the bigs having to step up and contest MUCH more often. With the amount of of ball pressure that we have now with a healthy Jrue, Reke, and now Russ, AD’s blocks per game stats will likely go down, but our defense will be VERY stout nonetheless.

    I could see AD being an Ed Reed free safety in the paint just roaming everywhere now since he has Asik and perimeter ball pressure up top to aid him which is great haha

  11. bucklezzzman

    June 27, 2014 at 2:08 am

    taylorford88 not necessarily. Beverly doesnt have much upside, he’s just stout at what he does which is fine for his role, and will be fine for Russ’ role. This draft was also fairly deep with solid, not star-studded, players.

  12. Jason Quigley

    June 27, 2014 at 2:41 am

    Dude…I didn’t realize how good he was. I’m totally okay with this, and somehow totally okay with losing Rivers for him.

  13. bradlaborde

    June 27, 2014 at 6:43 am

    The posts on this trade are awesome.  The like PJax over Jrue, uhhhhh, moving on…I like the move, Jackson was never playing here.  Too bad we couldn’t get someone to bite on Jax in the early 2nd before the run on SF’s.  Oh well. Lets see what FA brings…

  14. Lebron2Pels2014

    June 27, 2014 at 7:02 am

    A second round version of CP3 too soon

  15. Michael McNamara

    June 27, 2014 at 7:07 am

    xman20002000 I see this a lot, so I just want to address it here (hopefully once and once only)
    The NFL and NBA rules are VASTLY different. Contracts in the NBA are guaranteed, there is no restructuring, etc. You are very limited in the things you can do in the NBA, so if people believe that Loomis is going to help Dell pull rabbits out of his hat like he does with the Saints, they will be disappointed. These contracts are a thousand times less flexible.

  16. Michael McNamara

    June 27, 2014 at 7:08 am

    DGaines22 Jackson wouldn’t have been. Not for us. Would have never saw the court with our defensive system and priorities.

  17. Caffeinedisaster

    June 27, 2014 at 8:39 am

    Love the highlights of him picking up MCW 94 ft and DESTROYING HIM.
    Once again Dell has come out of left field and picked us up a gem.  Kid can shoot, defend and fearlessly attack the basket.  
    I approve!  Hoping we can ship EG and keep Austin/Russ as our backups.

  18. Pingback: Russ Smith Draft Reaction From New Orleans & Across The Country | Louisville Sports Live - Your source for all University of Louisville sports talk all the time.

  19. CoReMeGa

    June 27, 2014 at 10:50 am

    Hope we can at least package rivers in a deal with Gordon since we have to rid of him …. Reaaaaally hope we don’t move Ryno!

  20. LaNative

    June 27, 2014 at 10:54 am

    I really don’t want to lose Ryno either. Dang……come on Dell, make this happen without sacrificing Ryno.

  21. CoReMeGa

    June 27, 2014 at 10:57 am

    Yeah I actaully think his blocks go up a tic

  22. Kempleton

    June 27, 2014 at 12:14 pm

    taylorford88 yaboytonez Why not?
    Patrick Beverley: 2009 / Round: 2 / Pick: 42nd overall
    Russ smith: 2014 / Round: 2 / Pick: 47th overall
    I believe what matters is not the draft position, it is how you perform on the floor. We’ll see if Russ Smith can also earn himself a spot in the rotation as Beverley did. Beverley spent 3-4 years in Europe and NBDL before He even stepped on the court for the Rockets!

    I wish the best of luck for Russ Smith. I hope we found our backup PG behind Holiday.

  23. Kempleton

    June 27, 2014 at 2:02 pm

    Here is a video on Russ Smith called Russ-diculousness! Enjoy!

  24. Lebron2Pels2014

    June 27, 2014 at 2:44 pm

    The Pels got a first round talent in the second round. ESPN and gave the Pels an grade C  it’s small market bias of course if we was the Bulls or Lakers A or B+ most likely. Smith Good defensive player that fits the Pels and even Spurs system an poormans Patty Mills on offense. Smith is an workaholic, tough, demanding and blue collar player. This kid will be a starter in 2 years or less.

  25. Jason Quigley

    June 27, 2014 at 4:31 pm

    bradlaborde Haha, they have no idea what’s going on.  Anywhere you go besides this site, people are angry and think everything we do is a terrible deal and that Dell should be fired. The hell?

  26. bucklezzzman

    June 27, 2014 at 11:43 pm

    Yessirrr! And for whatever reason people think 1st round picks in the NBA are prized, untouchable possessions like they are in the NFL smh lol

  27. Lebron2Pels2014

    June 28, 2014 at 8:30 am

    bucklezzzman They’re not in the NFL pending on the draft need.

  28. Pelican Poster

    June 28, 2014 at 6:28 pm

    He reminds me of a young Sam Cassell! I think he could be great, especially as part of a high energy second team to start.

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