New Orleans Pelicans information, analysis and discussion Tue, 30 Sep 2014 15:44:55 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Pelicans Media Day Recap, Observations Tue, 30 Sep 2014 01:01:35 +0000 The Pelicans hosted their media day from 1-330 at the practice facility. This was my first Media Day, but I was accompanied by Dru, who helped guide me around, and Trew, who destroyed Luke Babbitt’s dreams of becoming a giraffe.

It was a simultaneously fun and informative experience- just about each player spent time in the interview corner with the media members, and Dell and Monty also spent time answering questions. If you’d like to read some of their quotes, you can check out the Bourbon Street Shots Twitter page, where my fat thumbs battled my iPhone keypad in a quest to capture as many quotes as I could. Dru will upload supplemental media that should do a much better job providing comprehensive coverage of the event.

Most of the quotes from the day were fairly standard, but there were a few patterns across players/staff and a few quotes that stood out to me.

  1. On the whole, the Pelicans players are extremely nice. Nothing phony about it. Friendly, though many of them are quiet.
  2. Just about every player was asked about the playoffs.. and most said the same things:
    • they want to be there
    • it’s tough in the Western Conference
    • it’s more important to focus on the immediate (training camp–> preseason –> regular season). They talked about the process of getting better and jelling.
    • ^^there was a conscious effort by both the staff/players not to perpetuate the “playoffs or bust” agenda. Dell talked about “sustained success.”
  3. Players and staff all made it a point to address injury issues last season.
  4. Monty talked about how Jrue can play off the ball on offense
  5. Jrue wouldn’t bite on what “position” Tyreke would play. When prompted, would say Tyreke is best “on the court.”
  6. Dell said Tyreke was probably working out in the Pelicans facility more than any other player
  7. Eric Gordon had a knee jerk reaction when asked about his player option and whether he’d exercise it
  8. Gordon said this is the first time in a while that he’s entering a season without significant injury issues. He said he wants to get back to being explosive and playing above the rim. He looks like he’s in very good shape
  9. Jeff Withey mentioned that he got hurt right before Summer League started.
  10. Ryan Anderson said there were times after the injury where he wasn’t sure if he’d ever play again. He said he’s blessed.
  11. Patric Young had perhaps the most informative quote of the day when he mentioned that AD does not like playing center. I don’t know if it’s true or not, but it should be considered in the “Is AD a 4 or 5?” moving forward. 
  12. Ryan Anderson and Eric Gordon were among the last players to go to the interview station- at a time in which a good bit of the media had already filtered out. I’m guessing this was intentionally done to avoid an overload of questions about Ryno’s injury and Gordon’s role moving forward (sixth man vs. starting, etc.)

This is an optimistic time for fan bases and teams, as most have their health and players are coming out of offseason work where they improved their games. It’s important to keep that in mind to help temper expectations for the season. With that said, I didn’t notice any player looking like he was in bad shape. Gordon looks fitter and Rivers/AD definitely look bigger.

Thoughts from Trew 2 the Game

Former ESPN NBA analyst Ric Bucher was all over the Pelicans practice facility during Media Day. He was in New Orleans serving as a media training consultant, something that the league mandates. I could tell the Pelicans were more comfortable around the cameras, reporters, and photographers.

When I first interviewed Austin Rivers in 2012, he seemed comfortable. When I interviewed him at Pelicans Media Day 2014, he was feeling it. Anthony Davis was playful (as usual) but more importantly, he was in charge. Jrue Holiday and Ryan Anderson were electric. Russ Smith and Patric Young held their own in the face of my “tough” questions (video coming soon), and will likely be Media Day darlings come their next contract. Such a fun team.

Ric Bucher was a nice guy who seemed to genuinely care about the team. While he wouldn’t take all of the credit for their skills on media day, it was evident the team has improved. They’ve got to do it on the court, of course, but the comfort level this team has with each other is there. They playfulness is there. The excitement is there.

The expectations are there too.

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Tyreke Evans to Miss 3-5 Weeks with Right Hamstring Injury Sat, 27 Sep 2014 20:10:30 +0000 According to a statement released by the New Orleans Pelicans this afternoon, Tyreke Evans will be sidelined for about a month after straining his right hamstring in a pick-up basketball game. As a result, the Pelicans will yet again be without Evans for a portion of the team’s preseason activities; Evans injured his ankle in New Orleans’ first preseason game last year.

There are many possible reactions to this news, most of which will likely be negative. We have the “Pelicans can’t catch a break” storyline, as the team picks up right where they left off last season in regards to injury woes. There is the concern for Evans individually, who some believe got off to a slow start last season as a result of his preseason injury. Others will be frustrated because of the setting in which Evans suffered the injury (playing pick-up basketball), but that is not something that should cause people to criticize Tyreke’s judgement. Many NBA players play pick-up games during the offseason as a way to stay in shape, and his injury could just as easily have happened if he was scrimmaging with teammates.

Then there is the bright side. Even if Evans misses a full five weeks of action, that timeline puts him on track (though possibly not at 100%) to return for the Pelicans’ second game of the regular season. Ultimately, given that 3-5 week timeframe, the most likely scenario is that Evans will miss all of training camp and preseason, but will be back for opening night in the New Orleans Arena against the Orlando Magic. The biggest question outstanding at this point is at what capacity he will be able to contribute.

Evans is coming off of his best all-around season, posting career highs in games played, PER, assist rate, offensive rebound rate, and defensive rebound rate. When healthy and playing with a healthy Pelicans lineup (if that ever happens again), he should be able to contribute immediately at a high level.

Thoughts? Concerns? Questions? Let us know in the comments.

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A Critical Time for Austin Rivers Fri, 26 Sep 2014 12:00:23 +0000 With the New Orleans Pelicans roster pretty much set, the onset of training camp and preseason is key Monty Williams to get an idea of the rotation he plans to use. Players will have an opportunity to edge out one another for limited minutes. And there is no one on the Pelicans who needs a strong training camp than Austin Rivers.

Last season the now third year guard saw his minutes decline yet saw a marked improvement in many of his stats. The departure of Brian Roberts seemingly opened the door for Rivers to be the backup point guard, but the trade for Russ Smith and signing of Jimmer Fredette (and, to an extent, John Salmons) muddled up the situation for the former 10th overall pick.

Rivers has been an absolute gym-rat this offseason, telling John Reid:

”I was constantly working the entire summer,” Rivers said. ”I gained 10 pounds and I’ve got stronger in my upper body. This is my year…I’ve strictly worked on mid-range and getting my body stronger this summer,” Rivers said earlier this week. ”I’ve got both of those things and I’m ready to prove and show people that this year.”

Rivers’ attitude is what you’d want to see, and expect, from a coaches’ son. No one will question that. But let’s look at how his improvements might help the Pelicans.

Getting Stronger

Getting to the rim has never been a problem for Rivers. He has a strong handle and beat defenders off the dribble. But finishing at the rim has been a weakness. Rivers has a slim build and gets knocked around easily when he gets into the restricted area as evidenced by his 48.64 shooting percentage there. Adding ten pounds and upper body strength should help River finish through contact for the and one opportunity. Raising that shooting percentage to at least the league average should allow Rivers to help the Pelicans’ second unit avoid scoring droughts.

This strength will, in theory, allow him to fight through screens better while on defense. Russ Smith is a tenacious defender, and with Monty being a defensive coach, you better believe Rivers needs to see his defense continue to improve if he wants to stay on the court.


River was atrocious last season from mid-range, shooting a lousy 24.39%. Raising that would obviously help his points per game. More than that, it is also an area on the court where Rivers should get a ton of good looks. Known as a rim attacker, defenders tend to cheat off Rivers and sag back into the paint. This packs the area under the rim making it harder for Rivers to get good looks up close.  It also takes passing lanes to bigs like Anthony Davis away. Developing a reliable mid-range game will keep defenders honest and allows teammates more options for moves like backdoor cuts.

And if this has been his main focus this offseason, you can be certain Monty instructed him to do so. The Pelicans’ offense will revolved around Anthony Davis and letting him and River run mid pick and rolls should worry opponents if Rivers starts making his shots. Pick your poison, and most teams will choose to take away Davis. Leaving a wide open Rivers. Hopefully for a made two.


Are these the areas we want to see Rivers improving? Yes and no. Getting stronger is important because getting to the rim and getting fouled is compounded by Rivers’ poor free throw shooting—though it’s worth noting that went up 10% last season. Focusing on his three-point shot over mid-range would set Rivers up to be a floor spacer and help replace some of the production from Anthony Morrow, but at this point the coaches and Pelicans’ fans will welcome any improvement to Rivers’ game. If not, it may be time to give up on him.

So, do you think it’ll be, as he says, Austin Rivers’ year? Let hear it in the comments.

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Average Guards Galore Thu, 25 Sep 2014 17:09:13 +0000 It’s that time!  Training Camp is around the corner.  The Pelicans are about to embark on another rough and tumble slog through a Western Conference that has more titans than Godzilla, Pacific Rim, Destiny, and Mecha Anime combined.

The Pelicans arrive on the scene with their own trio of giants in Asik, Davis and Anderson that should provide a storm of complimentary skills capable matching any frontcourt they could face.  The only questions about that unit that remain are “Is Anderson Healthy?” and “Will Anthony Davis Marry me?”

The big name backcourt trio is another story.  These guys are going to have 36 million of Tom Benson’s dollars lavished on them, and in return are required to be the fuel for that fine, fine frontcourt motor.  Yet I don’t have a clue if they are worth it.  I can point to a lot of promising signs.  Tyreke Evans was phenomenal after the all-star break, living on a steady diet of unstoppable drives to the rim.  Eric Gordon regained the shooting stroke that made him so highly paid and stayed healthy until the season was out of reach.  Jrue Holiday is a freakin’ former all-star, hit some big shots, and showed moments of brilliance as an off-the-dribble shooter and defender.

There is one nagging question however, I can’t get away from.

Are they anything more than average NBA guards?

This comes up because I’m putting together a projection for the team, and using analytics like PER, RAPM, Win Shares, and WP48 to try to come up with an estimate.  Guess what.  Most of those measures rate our trio of guards as pretty ordinary dudes.  No, not bad.  Just ordinary.

Take Jrue Holiday, for instance.  Over the past couple years, Jrue has been between 5 and 15% better than an average NBA point guard in the following categories: Rebound rate, Assist Rate, Blocks rate, Steals rate.  He’s been 5 to 15% below average in eFG%, TS%, Free throw Attempts, Three point makes and turnover rate.  So . . . a guy who will help in a bunch of categories, but not much of an efficient scorer.

Tyreke Evans is in the same boat.  Compared to NBA Shooting Guards, he is above average in assist rate, rebound rate, block rate, free throw attempts and steals rate.  He is below average in eFG%, TS% and turnovers.  Production-wise, he’d essentially be the shooting guard Jrue Holiday if the sheer number of Free throws he generates didn’t make him slightly more efficient overall than an average shooting guard.  Slightly.

Lastly, we have Eric Gordon, who is the opposite of his backcourt mates.  He’s above average in eFG%, TS%, and Free throw attempts.  He’s below average at rebound rate, assist rate, turnover rate, block rate, and steals rate.  So while he’s more efficient than your average guard scoring, he contributes nearly nothing anywhere else.  Net: average.

So what do you do with that?  Production-wise, you end up with a trio of pretty average dudes.  Do we still point to their age and say “They’ll improve?”  The standard production trajectory of an NBA player peaks during ages 24-25. (Good god.  Davis is 21.)  All three of these guys are 24 or 25.  Is average their peak then?  For some players, you could point to their defense to classify them as a better than average player – but the Pelicans were awful defensively last year.  Not much proof of this.

So what do you guys think.  Is average a fair label?  If Dell Demps’ gambles on young veteran guards produces mostly average players is that a success for you?  An all average team should win 41 games, remember!  Right?

Does it even matter?  Couldn’t average be good enough if you have Anthony Davis?

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Pelicans “Brave New Court” Redesign Wish List Wed, 24 Sep 2014 17:50:28 +0000 When Grantland’s Zach Lowe revealed earlier this month in his court design power rankings that our New Orleans Pelicans were embarking on an ambitious redesign of the basketball court, the ears of Crescent City Basketball fans perked up. His words:

The Pelicans have a brave proposed court redesign that might be the league’s boldest, but they have not received final approval to deploy it this season, per several league sources. 

Since then, I haven’t slept much. What could it be? I’ve gone from dreams of having the best, weirdest court design in the NBA to nightmares of having the worst, weirdest court design in the NBA. Let’s analyze the possibilities.

The original. RIP.

The center piece of every NBA court design is, wait for it…center court. Some teams go traditional here with their primary logo (Boston) while some teams go with a secondary logo (San Antonio). Instincts tell me that the primary Pelicans logo will no longer be at center court like it previously was. Here’s hoping the Pels follow the Spurs’ lead (in more ways than this…a common thought among Pelicans fans, I know) and slap a large fleur-de-lis at center court.  It’s happened before with the Hornets, so why not again? The black and gold next door neighbors have the city symbol in the middle of their field. My only request is go big. Cleveland Cavalier “C” big. Also not opposed to a large Louisiana outline like this. Could a huge center court design be the brave request?

A skyline inspired court would be unique and it wouldn’t be unheard of in New Orleans. Will from The Bird Writes pointed this Sun Belt-beauty out to me on Twitter:

Likely not for everyone, but in my eyes this thing is beautiful. Combine this with the fleur-de-lis center court idea and you’ve got a winner that screams New Orleans. It’s also possible that the entire court is comprised of the wings from the primary logo. That seems like a brave move.


One of the best quirks about the courts in Sacramento and Toronto is the “hype slogans” in the bottom of the court. “Sacramento Proud” is cool, “We The North” is phenomenal. The New Orleans Pelicans better throw a hype slogan down there. We don’t have a predominate one currently, and these things are best left to being organically created or a common local saying. That said, here’s a list of candidates.

I’m In - The closest thing to a hype slogan the franchise has had doesn’t seem like an ideal choice, but I believe it could work. The campaign was successful. “I’m In” on the court could take back the slogan and add some permanence to the phrase. I still think the team should reissue those stickers and magnets with the new brand.

Let the Good Times Roll - It’s long, but it’s so New Orleans. Not a bad idea to make the general “buy tickets to basketball games” slogan be a classic New Orleans motto.

Who Dat - Unlikely, yes. Misplaced, maybe. But some think “Who Dat” will eventually make it’s way to the basketball court, though current fan attempts to fit it in feel forced. If the marketing department (and Tom Benson) have their eyes on sharing the Saints’ battle cry, putting it on the court is a great start. While they’re at it, have a player start the chant before every game too. It’s entirely possible another “dat” phrase is in the works (groan), as many local businesses have adopted it to varying degrees of success.

Bless You Boys – A generic nickname for the Saints could also apply to the Pelicans. Pro: it’s so New Orleans. Con: forcing a Saints trademark into the Pelicans would be frowned upon by some. But this is the internet and everything gets frowned upon. I’m all in for Bless You Boys.

Let’s Geaux Pels - It’s what the crowd chanted at Pelicans baseball games back in the day. It’s what voice of the Pelicans Joel Meyers signed off the rebrand press conference with. It’s simple. It could work. This is my favorite  of the bunch.

One Call That’s All - Since Lil Wayne is Lil Wayne and Sean Payton doesn’t count, Morris Bart is the most prominent Pelicans fan who calls New Orleans home.

Honorable Mention New Orleans References - Cha Ching, See the Special Man

Honorable Mention Generic Bird Terms - The Flock, Fly With Us, Bird Gang, This is the Nest


With every wish list, though, comes the dread list. Those things that we don’t want to see happen. Among those things is too much Smoothie King. Don’t get it twisted, I’m all aboard the Smoothie King Center train. I just don’t want to see the sponsor poured down our throats. Would much rather sip it through a straw. Crossing two fingers that the painted area is not just a Smoothie King cup. Crossing the rest of my fingers that the brave idea was not to have the Smoothie King logo in center court.

What about the floor? The Bucks, Magic, Nets, and, ahem, Hornets have brave floors. Will we see feathers integrated into the design? My guess is no, but I also would have never guessed what Pierre looked like pre-surgery.

Is the brave request to lift the floor up off the ground and add a protective net as an homage to the New Orleans Jazz? Reaching here, I know.

The team has not reported on if the court has been approved and when the new court will be revealed. We’ll have the information for you as soon as it becomes available.

Follow @Trew2theGame on Twitter and Listen to the Podcast


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A Set of Pelicans Basketball Cards Lied to Me Tue, 09 Sep 2014 16:00:18 +0000 I’ve held my breath for far too long. The basketball off season is far too long. It’s time to unleash the truth. The truth is that the Pelicans Basketball Card Pack offered by the Pelicans team store inside the Smoothie King Center duped me. Was it the pack itself that did the duping? Was it the person that organized these cards in this specific order that tricked me? Is it the team’s fault that something this sneaky sneaked past the merchandise guardians? I don’t have all the answers. All I have are these basketball cards pretending to be New Orleans Pelicans inaugural season basketball cards.


Facts derived from the wrapping on this pack include the price ($10), the amount of cards (50), and what is inside (Pelicans History Pack). The only visible card without unwrapping the pack is the Ryan Anderson one pictured above. Facts derived from the Ryan Anderson card pictured above include that this is definitely a photoshop (look at his face), so this is therefore not a real photograph taken during a game (that basketball is definitely being bounced in a media day green screen type of way), and aw man did I just get bamboozled (keep reading).



This is the second card in the bunch. It’s a minor reach as Austin Rivers played for both the New Orleans Hornets and the New Orleans Pelicans. Didn’t think much of this one, though. I can live with a former Hornet and current Pelican in my Pelicans History 50 card pack. It being the second card in the bunch gave me caution. I wouldn’t scoff at a Hornets card in the back half of the deck. But the second? I included the wrapping on this picture to hammer home the point that what I purchased was a “Pelicans History Pack.”



Hello, Peja. Hello under-appreciated yellow third jersey. Hello…OKC patch? Okay, for the third card in my Pelicans 50 card history pack I get Peja Stojakovic setting himself up for a shot in which he has a 45% chance of making. That’s great. I really enjoyed those years we had a marksman like #16. Those years our guys had to wear that OKC patch? That’s not a fun memory. I’m not sitting over here on my merchandise high horse trying to customize my own pack of cards, I get that’s not how it works. But so far my Pelicans History Pack has one Pelican, one Hornet, and one Hornet wearing an OKC patch. This is progressive de-heightening. It’s getting worse.



These cards are together to represent the only batch of the pack that ever laced up in New Orleans. Austin Rivers, Desmond Mason, Ryan Anderson, Baron Davis, Peja Stojakovic, and Tyson Chandler. A hair over 8% of my Pelicans 50 card History Pack actually played basketball in New Orleans. Some of them also played for the Charlotte Hornets and some of them also played for the Oklahoma City Hornets. I understand that New Orleans basketball history is confusing, but this pack’s lineup is really shoving it my face. Let’s go to the last slide, class.


Now, I can admit – part of the reason I purchased this “Pelicans History Pack” is that I was curious what was considered Pelicans History. I didn’t think there was going to be a Shoeless Joe Jackson card in the bunch but I also didn’t think there would be a bunch of North Carolinians. I definitely didn’t think they would outscore New Orleanians 44-6.  Imagine on opening day in Charlotte this year you purchase a “The Buzz is Back” Trading Card set. You open the set and you see Chris Paul in a Hornets jersey, Emeka Okafor in a Hornets jersey, and then Emeka Okafor in a Bobcats jersey. This shouldn’t have been called a Pelicans History Pack. This should have been called “Inventory Clearance Pack #1.”


Chris Trew is a comedian, pro wrestling manager and Pelicans season ticket holder. His podcast, Trew 2 the Game, has new episodes every Tuesday and is available on Stitcher and iTunes. Follow him on Twitter here.


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In the NO Podcast Episode 187: Anthony Davis at the World Cup Tue, 02 Sep 2014 03:14:29 +0000 Michael and I talk Anthony Davis and his showing at the FIBA World Cup! We address what he’s done so far, what he can take away from this experience, what we still want to see, and if I was right about him not breaking out. Then Michael loves him some Eric Gordon. Sigh. And then I ambush him!

Good times!

Enjoy the Podcast!

Like the Show or the Blog?

Like the music?

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The New Orleans Pelicans’ Most Intriguing Squadron Fri, 22 Aug 2014 13:57:12 +0000 The New Orleans Pelicans’ addition of center Omer Asik answers a question that had no clear answer last season – who to start at center. A more uncertain question, however, is how minutes and rotations will be managed among the Pelicans’ three-headed front court monster of Asik, Ryan Anderson, and Anthony Davis. The default assumption is that two of those three will be on the court at almost all times, which should certainly be the case. However, there is another possibility that must be considered – can all three play together effectively?

On its surface, this idea may seem a bit suspect. None of those three players have been considered anything resembling a “wing” at any point in their respective NBA careers, and yet playing Davis, Anderson, and Asik together would require at least one of them to fill that role. However, every situation is unique, and the combination of each player’s skill set warrants a closer look at potential feasibility.

Lineup: Jrue Holiday, Tyreke Evans, Anthony Davis, Ryan Anderson, Omer Asik

The Logic

Anthony Davis is a very special player, as his length and athleticism (not to mention his pre-growth spurt familiarity with playing on the perimeter) allow him to excel in a variety of roles. His individual skill set is most effectively utilized in the front court, but the Pelicans may be best served by moving part of his role within this lineup to the wing. First of all, the addition of Asik gives the Pelicans the elite defensive center that they have long been searching for, allowing them to utilize the wide range of skills possessed by The Brow in different ways which will have the greatest positive impact in a given situation.

This theory leads to the next point, which relates to how Davis and Anderson’s skill sets complement each other. Anderson possesses the long range shooting ability of a wing player, but is not agile enough to defend most of the wings in the NBA. Conversely, Anthony Davis possesses both the wingspan and athleticism to defend on the wing, but he is most effective offensively when playing closer to the rim. Combine the two, and a team possesses the ability to play both players together alongside another big man in the middle. Due to New Orleans’ prior lack of a center talented enough to justify playing alongside both Anderson and Davis, this idea was one that had little reason to be strongly considered last season. With Asik now filling that void, this “3 big” lineup is one that could be very dangerous.

Why it Could Work
  • Defensive versatility. With Asik protecting the rim, New Orleans can be pretty flexible in regards to who defends the 3 and the 4 between Davis and Anderson and make decisions based on match-ups. Against teams like the Thunder and Spurs, the Pelicans would likely be best served sending Anthony Davis out to match up with the likes of Kevin Durant and Kawhi Leonard on the perimeter (this would probably be the expectation for the majority of opponents). Conversely, the Pels could likely get away with keeping Davis in the front court against a team like the Grizzlies that isn’t going to beat you with its wings. Anderson’s height would be enough to help contest perimeter shots, and even if (when) his matchup gets past him, he will have to pull up for a mid-range jumper, dish it off to a teammate, or deal with the likes of Davis and Asik inside. Given those options, that match-up seems ideal against teams with more one-dimensional small forwards. Regardless of the direction that the team would decide to take, the main point is that a lineup with such solid defenders at both the point of attack (Holiday) and closest to the rim (Asik) - not to mention the defensive versatility of Anthony Davis – gives a team a ton of flexibility in regards to who fills out the remaining two spots.
  • Dribble penetration ability. Jrue Holiday and Tyreke Evans combined for 18 drives per game last season, and each of their individual per-game drive averages ranked among the top 12 players in the NBA, per SportVU’s player tracking data. Furthermore, the Pelicans averaged almost 1.2 points per possession last season on drives from either of those two players, far more efficient than an average NBA possession. The importance of this inclination of both guards to attack the rim repeatedly cannot be understated, as this unit would lack a strong third ball handler. Davis is competent, but does not have the ability to consistently take his man off the dribble (yet). Connections exist between both drives and corner 3-point attempts as well as corner 3s and a team’s effective field goal percentage, so there is reason to get excited about the thought of Jrue or Tyreke drawing in the defense, then kicking it out to Ryan Anderson (or even Anthony Davis) in either corner.
  • Perimeter length. A defensive perimeter trio of Holiday, Evans, and Davis provides some serious length and athleticism, which could be really taxing on opponents. Jrue is one of the better defensive PGs in the league, and while Tyreke’s overall defensive numbers don’t look too great, his struggles have come primarily against spot up shooters. If Evans can learn to close out better – and he should be able to play a bit more aggressively knowing that Asik is protecting the rim – he can still be an above average defender overall. As for Davis, while moving him away from the rim on defense certainly takes away a bit of what makes him so special, there is upside that can be realized from doing so as well. Davis’ exceptional height and wingspan allows him to play further off of his assignments on the perimeter than others could justify, and his athleticism gives him the ability to stay in front of those same players when they put the ball on the floor. Between he, Evans, and Holiday, opposing guards and wings will have some serious difficulty protecting the basketball and getting into the paint.
  • Rebounding. Over the past two seasons, Al-Farouq Aminu’s most redeeming quality was his rebounding ability (in 2012-13, he led all small forwards in rebound rate by no small margin). With Anthony Davis filling that role, you get that caliber of rebounding (in addition to everything else he brings to the table) to add to Anderson (an above average offensive rebounder) and Asik (the second best rebounding center in the NBA over the past two seasons). Don’t expect opponents to get many second chances, and on the other end of the court, the Pelicans could see a bunch of their own.
Why it Might Not
  • Floor spacing trouble. Yes, this is a lineup that includes Ryan Anderson, but it also consists of two players (Evans and Asik) who have given little reason to date for their jump shots to be respected. Players can help off of Asik in the middle and likely still recover in time, and whoever defends Tyreke can sag off in favor of helping on either Jrue or Anderson to prevent open long range looks from them. If designed correctly and if Davis continues to make himself more and more of a threat, make no mistake that there should be enough shooting on the court to keep opposing defenses honest, but it must be designed properly. Speaking of that concept…
  • Offensive design. While historical data league-wide says that drives often lead to open corner 3s, creating those opportunities within the framework of a specific team is another beast entirely. The Pelicans averaged the 3rd most drives in the NBA last season, but attempted the third fewest corner 3-pointers in the league last season. Jrue and Tyreke can break down defenses all day long, but if A) they don’t look to kick the ball out to the corner frequently enough or B) there is no shooter there for either of them to pass the ball to, then it doesn’t really matter how much opposing defenses collapse.
  • Pick and roll defense. Anthony Davis has proven his ability to match up with opposing small forwards in one-on-one situations, but he often struggles when fighting through screens. While the news that he is up to 242 lbs should benefit him in this regard, a Pelicans lineup including three “big men” creates the potential for some serious mis-matches for talented guards resulting from pick and roll offenses. If the Pelicans defense gets caught in too many switches, a defense with some real promise could quickly be left completely out of sync. Furthermore, asking Davis to chase perimeter players around for extended minutes could result in him tiring much more quickly than he would otherwise, so that is something that would have to be consistently monitored as well.
Additional Questions
  • Who serves as the primary ball-handler? Under normal circumstances, Jrue Holiday is this team’s point guard, but this lineup does not present “normal circumstances.” With Holiday’s strong perimeter shooting ability, it could be in the Pelicans’ best interest to utilize him off the ball and play Tyreke Evans at point guard. Doing so could allow both wing spots on the court to be manned by a good 3-point shooter (Holiday) and a lethal one (Anderson), in addition to Davis’ proven ability to knock down shots outside of the paint. The main concern with doing so is whether or not Evans can get his teammates involved to the same degree as Holiday, but the ease with which Tyreke is able to get into the paint is a skill that could really help this group score.
  • How would this group fare against small-ball lineups? First things first – this group would dominate undersized lineups on the boards, as well as sufficiently defend the paint. That being said, there are certainly issues to be addressed elsewhere. The Pelicans experienced big problems defending perimeter shooting last season, and asking Anthony Davis and Ryan Anderson both to cover shooters may not go over well. For example, envision this lineup going up against a Thunder unit of Westbrook, Jackson, Morrow, Durant, and Ibaka. Even if (when) AD gets matched up with KD, is Ryan Anderson really supposed to chase one of those guards around the perimeter? Obviously, any lineup featuring Kevin Durant is going to be difficult to stop, so that example is a pretty extreme one. But what about a Spurs group of Parker, Ginobili/Green, Leonard, Diaw, and Duncan? What about Curry, Thompson, Iguodala, Green, and Lee from the Warriors? The issue may not be how to “stop” those types of lineups from scoring, but instead to simply reduce their effectiveness and ensure that the mismatches created benefit the Pelicans more then their opponents.

When a team has a player as versatile and talented as Anthony Davis on its roster, it allows for (and should strongly encourage) creativity when it comes to how the rest of the lineup is filled out. The Heat followed this logic with LeBron James, a player who played all five positions on the court throughout his stint in Miami. While Davis isn’t going to play point guard for this Pelicans team anytime soon, his ability to capably defend any spot on the floor is something that New Orleans has not yet capitalized on to a large degree. Adding Omer Asik gives the Pelicans a new and interesting excuse to do so, and given the unique attributes of the other players within this suggested lineup, it is a group that has incredibly intriguing potential. Additionally, there is the unfortunate truth that Eric Gordon’s awful defense made him a net negative last year; while there is reasonable hope that he improves this upcoming season, a Holiday-Evans-Davis-Anderson-Asik lineup puts the Pelicans’ best five players on the court together as things currently stand. Whether or not this unit sees substantial minutes together is another issue entirely. What say you, Monty?

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Breaking Down the New Orleans Pelicans Schedule Wed, 13 Aug 2014 23:11:22 +0000 In the NBA, not all schedules are created equal. In addition to playing your division foes twice as much as you play the other conference, you also have numerous other factors that can effect the difficulty of your schedule, including: number of back to backs, your non-division conference schedule, and differing lengths of East and/or West coast swings. Today, the New Orleans Pelicans got their schedule, so let’s take a look at the Good, the Bad, and the Interesting.

The Good

The Pelicans kick the season off with three of their first four games at home (including the first 2) and could easily start the season off 4-0, as their lone road game is at Memphis – a team they have owned as of late. Orlando comes into New Orleans to start the season on October 28th, followed by Dallas, then Memphis on the road and the Charlotte Hornets (still weird) at home. They could get off to a great start, which could give them confidence as they head into their next two games (at San Antonio, at Cleveland).

The Non-Division Conference Schedule. It broke down the following way:

Four Times: Thunder, Lakers, Kings, Wolves, Nuggets, Warriors,

Three Times (2 at home, 1 on road): Phoenix, Utah

Three Times (2 on road, 1 at home): Clippers, Blazers

It’s not perfect, but it is better than it could have been. The only one of the non-playoff contenders that we don’t get 4 times is Utah and we only have to go to Phoenix once – a tough place to win. One fewer game against the Clippers can’t hurt, even though we will only get to see CP3 once (on January 30th). Ideally I would have flip flopped Utah and Portland, and maybe OKC and Phoenix, but again, mostly good news here.

The final game of the season will feature the Pelicans at home against the Spurs. History says that they have usually shut it down by then, and with the West being so competitive, that final game could mean the difference in a playoff spot or perhaps a higher seed. Also, in two of the other match ups against the Spurs, San Antonio is on the second night of a back-to-back. Feel free to rest Duncan and Ginobli, Pop!

The longest East coast road trip features almost all of the cupcakes. People like to bag on the East, but it got better this summer. The Pelicans five-game East coast swing in mid-January features Boston, Detroit, Philly, Toronto, and New York. It wouldn’t be unreasonable to see them go 4-1 on their longest East coast road swing.

The Pelicans get the Cavs twice early, which means that they could get the next potential powerhouse before they really start to gel. Remember that the Heat struggled early in their first season, and it is likely that the Cavs will be playing much better in March than they will be in December. The Pelicans get both of their games with the Cavs over with by December 12th.

The Bad

20 Back-to-Back dates. That is a little more than the average (usually around 18), and March and April look especially tough in that area. Although, this might be the new norm if teams get extended All-Star breaks in February. What’s really bad, though, is that 13 of the back-to-backs have a road game as the second game of the back-to-back, historically the hardest game to win.

Not enough Saturday home games – only 4 all season.

Eight NBATV games is nice, but spotlight games on ErSPN, ABC, or TNT are a whole different animal, and the Pelicans only have two of those – Home against Miami on February 27th (ESPN) and at Golden State on December 4th (TNT).

Mid-November through early January could be brutal, especially if the team hasn’t gelled yet. After those first four games, the Pelicans next 33 games will provide quite a test. The Pelicans will play San Antonio three times and OKC and Cleveland twice. They also have two mini West Coast road trips and six back-to-backs, with a couple of them being quite brutal (SA-Chicago, Phoenix-SA, etc.)

The Interesting

All-Star Weekend has turned into All-Star Week, as the NBA has given teams eight days off to recharge in mid-February. The Pelicans will host Indiana on February 11th, and then won’t have to play again until February 20th at Orlando.

Omer Asik will visit Houston for the first time on December 18th.

The Pelicans will be in New York for an afternoon game on MLK day.

If you are looking for the Pelicans to make a run, expect it to happen in January, and it can carry through until March. The Pelicans have that easy road trip I talked about and then follow it up with 10 of the next 12 games at home before hitting the All-Star break. The schedule doesn’t really get hard again until late March. Honestly, if the Pelicans can just make it to early January and are anywhere near .500, they could go something like 30-15 over their final 45 games.

So, what are your thoughts on the Pelicans schedule?

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Is Anthony Davis going to break out for USA Basketball? Thu, 07 Aug 2014 20:12:55 +0000 I’m not sure how many people plan on watching Team USA play in the World Cup of Basketball this off-season.  I intend to watch most of it since Anthony Davis is going to be there, and I’ll take any excuse I can to see him play basketball.  Other than that horrific Paul George injury, which I will NOT link to, I’ve enjoyed the run up to the event so far.  Being a bit starved for basketball, it’s been fun to read various accounts about the team last week in their training camp.  It’s been made even more fun to read in article after article that Anthony Davis is a lock to start for a team that has access to roughly 85% of the best young talent this country can offer.

Now, we’ve all watched him for two seasons, so none of us are surprised by that, and the accolades are well deserved, but there is one part of the coverage that bothers me.  There are some people predicting that Anthony Davis is a candidate to break out and make his name in this tournament.

Whoa.  Slow your roll.

This is FIBA basketball.  FIBA big men do not score in bunches.  They do not rebound in bunches.  They do not dominate games.  I love Davis, but I just can’t see that happening at all.

Quick question:  How many Team USA big men have averaged a 14 and 8 in the Olympics?  Answer:  None.

In fact, how many Team USA big men were their team’s leading scorer?  Answer:  One.  Charles Barkley – who was operating as a small forward next to Patrick Ewing, David Robinson, Larry Bird, and Karl Malone on the original Dream Team.

This is FIBA basketball folks, which in a lot of ways inspired today’s NBA.  FIBA encourages perimeter play, screens on the edges, and lots of drive-and-kick threes.  Big men who operate in the paint? No thanks.   The lane is wider, they must start further out, and really their job is to rebound and finish pick and rolls.  Dwight Howard was good for 11 and 6 in 2008 at the peak of his abilities.  Bosh went for 9 and 6.  In 2004, Tim Duncan posted perhaps the best big man statline ever for the US, posting 12.9 points and 9.1 rebounds in a losing effort.  Kevin Love managed a pretty impressive 11.6 and 7.6 in 2012, which is why everyone involved with USA Basketball were very, very sad when he took himself off the team.

It’s the guys with the ball in their hands that score for Team USA.  Carmelo went for 16 a game last time out.  Durant let fly for 19.  LeBron and Kobe each came close to 16 a game – and Vince Carter almost scored 15 a game while jumping over Frederic Weis in 2000.  MJ scored 17 a game back in college – and 14 when he was playing for the Dream Team.  Those guys do the scoring.  Not the big guys.

So, yes, Davis will be vital to this team.  With Love busy being traded, Aldridge busy being courted for an extension, Blake Griffin busy having a back injury and then not having a back injury, Andre Drummond not being able to make a free throw, and DeMarcus Cousins being DeMarcus Cousins, Davis is absolutely vital to a team needing size.

He will make a huge difference, and will be amazing to watch playing off of Durant, Harden, Curry, Rose, Kyrie Irving, and the other horde of perimeter stars this team will carry with them to Spain.

Just don’t expect a breakout.

(Seriously.  Look at those guys listed above.  You think Davis is getting the ball outside of a few pick and rolls and dump-off plays?  Not a chance.)

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Tanking and Conferences Fri, 01 Aug 2014 16:27:46 +0000 I love the game of basketball – but there are three things that bother me about the current NBA setup.

  1. The last 2 minutes of a basketball game are too friggin’ long.
  2. Egregious tanking.
  3. Using conferences to determine the 16 teams is silly when one conference can have so many superior teams.

The first issue can easily be resolved by cutting down the number of timeouts teams get.  Everyone gets one timeout per quarter.  Use it or lose it.  Refs get their existing timeouts for commercial breaks.(league’s gotta make money, folks)  Done.  There is enough stoppage’s in the game via free throws and dead balls to let players sub in and out of games, so no need for more.  I doubt this will occur anytime soon, because all those commercials packed into the end of games are good for revenue, but I’d still love to see it happen.  Until then, I have TiVO and no need to watch a game live unless it’s a playoff game and I need to KNOW. (Hopefully this will be a problem for me this coming season.)

There are a lot of suggestions out there to fix tanking right now.  The league has a proposal on the table to make the lottery less likely to reward the absolutely worst teams by giving teams with better records in the lottery increased odds to win.  Personally I think this will be ineffectual as a tool to stop tanking.  Being one of the worst four teams still gives you a high chance – and it is damn hard to be one of the four worst teams in the NBA.  Philly stripped its roster of almost every real veteran it had last year – and it still took an epic 27-game losing streak to put them . . . 2nd from the bottom in the standings.  Milwaukee took the worst record prize only after force feeding OJ Mayo like a goose being prepared for Foie Gras, greasing the dance floor of Larry Sanders favorite night spot, Limiting Ilyasova to half a game, and playing Giannis Antetatkjaerojiasefjoij 24 minutes a game despite his 10.8 PER.  Do you remember the shit-sandwich the Hornets put out there en route to winning the Davis lottery?  Vasquez-Bellinelli-Aminu-Landry-Kaman anybody?

The lesson?  Teams are going to work to suck so they can get into those bottom few spots because getting a top 5 pick matters.  The result is their fan base is going to be treated to awful, soul-sucking basketball.  I sat through the Hornets 18-win season, watching Dan Dickau try to be an NBA player and Lee Nailon make sweet, delicious love to the dumb zone, but at least for half that season I thought Baron Davis had a chance of coming back.  Jamaal Magloire was injured and could return, right?  Jamal Mashburn couldn’t seriously have Vertigo keeping him from playing, right?

So at least for some part of the season I had hope I’d get to watch decent basketball.  If you are a Philly fan next year, do you have hope?  The Jazz?  Orlando?  Milwaukee?  These teams aren’t even trying, and it’s obvious.

And it’s good strategic planning for those teams.

So – what do you do if you don’t want teams to purposely suck that hard?  You make it bad strategic planning.

So here’s my solution, with parts of it ripped off liberally from various other places.  It also happens to fix the conference issue at the same time.

The Carrot and Stick

It all starts, really, with Bill Simmons Entertaining as Hell tournament.  That idea has its genesis in love for March Madness and giving teams who fall out of the race a reason to not shut down/trade/waive all their good players as the season goes on.  It also gives teams that start the season with a bad injury or two a chance to get back into the playoffs.  I think all of those make it a pretty attractive idea alone.  So, we take this basic idea, add some punitive measures, and here’s the proposal:

Step 1: The top 12 teams are seeded into the playoffs – 6 from each conference.  Hey, we get to keep conferences relevant!

Step 2: The next 16 teams in the league are seeded by record into a single elimination tournament.  This means teams like the 48 win Suns and 40-win Wolves aren’t stuck out in the cold in favor of the 37-win Hawks because their conference is crazy as hell.

Step 3: Those 16 teams battle down to a final four – two rounds, high-stakes games.  All other Playoff teams get to prepare and heal up for a few days.  Advantage!  The final four get seeded into the 7th and 8th spots in the playoff bracket, regardless of conference.  Playoffs kick off.  Champion Crowned.

Step 4:  Lottery time!  The lottery is changed so that teams get a chance to move up to any of the top five picks.  For those of you who paid attention to my Value of a Lottery Pick posts in the past – the top five picks of the draft perform significantly better than picks after that point.  So you set the bar there and let all teams in the lottery get a chance to move up into the top five based on odds set by their record.  Well almost all, because . . .

Step 5:  I left out two teams from the above steps!  12 playoff-bound teams, 16-tournament bound teams!  That leaves two awful teams left out of any chance at the post-season. Well, guess what?  Those teams continue to get punished for sucking that hard.  No post-season, AND they are left out of the drawing for the top five picks.  After the top five are drawn, the rest of the lottery is determined by record, so the worst team in the league will still get the 6th pick and their fans can hope for something – but if there is an obvious franchise player in the draft, they ain’t getting him.  Ouch.

This sets up all kinds of late season intrigue.  Teams at the bottom will be fighting to win extra games with one another just to make sure they don’t end up dropping 5 spots in the lottery.  Teams will be trying to get their players back from injury, rather than shutting them down.  If a veteran hits the waiver wire that might help?  Those bad teams will probably be trying to snap him up!  You think Philly’s front office lets its team lose 27 games in a row if that makes them fall below Orlando and into one of the two Spots of Death?  Not a chance.

So, in the end, you end up making it damn unlikely you don’t have the best 16 teams in the playoffs – or maybe 15 teams and a Cinderella.  You get a fun tournament,  good playoffs, and afterwards 12 of the worst 14 teams get a chance to get significantly better.  Oh and 2 teams realize they better spend a little money in the off-season to not suck so bad, helping out their fans. (which hopefully creates a chain reaction for teams 3 and 4 who also don’t want to suck so bad.)

That essentially defeats strategic tanking.  How do you ensure you are the 3rd or fourth worst team, and not the 2nd?  You can’t.  Teams will try.


What do you think?  Does tanking bother you or is it something else in the NBA game?

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Weakside Eyes: The Value of Heartbreak Fri, 01 Aug 2014 13:58:35 +0000

When I walked into the room I started looking around . . . I wanted to see what kind of guys I was dealing with. I wondered how many of ‘em could handle an alley fight. Who could I count on if two thugs were pounding me into the cement?
– Benny Booms to Uncle Nicky in “The Bad Times Stomp”

I hear and read really, really well, but I see so much better. The older guys sitting on their bar stools had their own version of street philosophy. Some of them didn’t read very well . . . I added to the script so it would fit the use of the printed word.

Over the past few weeks I’ve read some of the wonderful and in-depth work some of my fellow members of this site have produced . . . excellent and informative. The numerical breakdowns related to salary cap and use of basketball analytics always make for good deposits into one’s knowledge bank.

All the contract stuff makes for a solid read and stretches the brain to points many fans have never dared travel . . . kind of like a “destination unknown” cruise. Once you get there, you realize it was worth the trip.

“Nicky, Mr. Reality is here to see you . . . he says its important”

You don’t need a hyped sales pitch to tell you that Anthony Davis is the guy that can “pop wheelies” over the long haul for Pelican fans. Without Davis all team goals become that shrimp poboy that you left under the seat in your car three months ago.

We can talk about the big money that changes hands, but young talents like Davis are more tuned-in to “roster scanning.” Their agents and friends monitor what teams are stocking up to chase the jewelry. The agents to the stars keep their clients fully informed as to who is doing what.

“What have they done lately? You telling me you can win the big one with that group?”

Contract-wise the Pelicans can lay out a nice financial package to keep Davis around for awhile. The key is making his eyes happy. He’ll hear a lot about what the plan is, but will Davis see the results of what he was told?

Everybody knows how the scene needs to play out. Eventually Davis has to believe that the Pelicans will be armed to give serious chase to multiple playoff rounds. A championship is further down the road . . . he must first experience the emotional crush of a playoff heartbreak.
That will further fuel him.

Dell Demps has displayed the creative ability to shake up the formula and address the current team needs with the hustle his position requires. The recent roster additions should be the start of something . . . right?

“Listen Nicky, the truth will set you free, but it can also piss you off, so deal with what ya got for now.J ust don’t stay on dat train too long cause you don’t wanna miss your stop” — Benny Booms

Here’s how the rule works:

What or who you attach yourself to during the prime years of your life or career will determine how many nights you will spend crying into your pillow.

Ya get my meaning?


Gerry V is a 21-year NBA analyst, 17-year talk radio host, a 16-year coach . . . also hosts “Gerry V’s “Talk Back Live on 99.5 WRNO New Orleans right after every Saints Sunday Game. Follow Gerry V on twitter (@GVTalk).

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Anthony Davis and His Next Contract With the New Orleans Pelicans Wed, 23 Jul 2014 13:31:59 +0000 (A special thanks to Jason Calmes in this article for his fact-checking and infinite wisdom. Also, a large shout out to one of our favorite podcast guests and salary cap guru’s Larry Coon.) 

While the drama of free agency is fun for most, it is nerve-racking for fans of that team whose star player is out there hearing pitches from other franchises. The idea of losing a franchise changing player for nothing causes more anxiety in a fan base than anything on the court possibly can. And even if your team’s superstar is not a free agent, just the threat of him becoming one can put your team in a position where they almost have to trade him (See: Kevin Love).

This is the new NBA, and with this franchise’s history of losing its star players, it is not a surprise that some fans are worried about Anthony Davis eventually exiting stage left. And while it is possible that he will some day play for another city, that day will likely not come any time soon. If the past is truly the best indicator of the future, the Pelicans will likely have Anthony Davis in uniform for at least five more seasons before they have to worry about him having the ability to put the Pelicans in a position where they have to move him or risk watching him leave. This is the timeline they are on.

But don’t just take my word for it. Let’s take a look back at the past, examine the present, and project forward to the future, as I take you through each and every detail of what is likely to be Anthony Davis’s next contract.

Anthony Davis’s Current Contract

Davis will count for $5,607,240 against the cap this season, and the Pelicans have the right to pick up a $7,070,730 option for the 2015-16 season. They have until October 31st, 2014 to do so, and they will undoubtedly pick up that option year. The Pelicans would then have the ability to make a qualifying offer of $9,191,949 in June of 2016 that would make him a restricted free agent that summer. But don’t expect it to get that far, as the Pelicans will be able to offer him a contract extension in the Summer of 2015. If and when Anthony Davis accepts, his new contract will start in 2016, seamlessly continuing his position on the Pelicans roster following that final year of his rookie deal.

Extension Possibilities

First, let us start with the timeline. The New Orleans Pelicans can not offer Anthony Davis a contract extension until July 1st, 2015. He will have until November 2nd of 2015 to sign the offer. If the two sides fail to agree on a new contract, then the Pelicans will have to wait until June of 2016 to extend him the qualifying offer and make him a restricted free agent. From there, they would still have the ability to negotiate with Davis and sign him to a new deal, or allow him to sign a contract with another team and match that contract.

That seems to be the worst case scenario. The more likely scenario, if history is any indicator, is that Davis and the Pelicans agree to a contract extension at the beginning of July 2015. With Anthony Davis being a player that has between 0 and 6 years of service in the NBA, they can offer him approximately 25% of the 2015-16 salary cap as a starting point, with a duration that goes up to four years. His overall contract will start at that salary, and then standard 7.5% increases will commence for the duration of the contract, regardless of how much the salary cap increases or decreases over the next four years.

The Pelicans do have another option, one that they are likely to take. They have the ability to extend one player coming off his rookie deal a ‘five-year designated player’ contract. This contract can be signed between July 1st and November 2nd of 2015, and a team is only allowed to have one ‘five-year designated player’ contract on its roster. In addition to allowing the team to offer a 5th year, the player also has the ability to command a salary that counts for approximately 30% of the cap in the first year if they meet certain criteria. This has been deemed the ‘Rose Rule’ in the new CBA.

The Rose Rule

For a player to meet the requirements of the Rose Rule, and in turn get up to approximately 30% of the salary cap, as opposed to 25%, he must do at least one of the following:

  • Be named to the All-NBA First, Second, or Third team twice
  • Be voted to start the NBA All-Star game twice
  • Be named the NBA MVP once

With two years left before Davis starts his new deal, all three of these remain a possibility for Davis even though he has not accomplished any of those things yet. By July of next year, it is possible that they all remain in play. Or perhaps only one or two of them will remain a viable option. If he signs a ‘five-year designated player’ deal and does not achieve one of those select criteria, then he will count for 25% of the salary cap in the first year of his extension. It is possible that, over the course of the contract, this could make a 10 to 25 million dollar difference for Davis and the Pelicans.

Recent Designated Player Contracts

First things first – NOBODY turns down the designated player contract. Kevin Love would have accepted it in Minnesota (it was not offered), Kyrie accepted it less than a month ago despite three somewhat miserable years in Cleveland, and so on and so forth. Now, I guess there is always room for breaking with precedent, but few (if any) agents will allow a client to turn down five years and 100+ million dollars just to allow a client to play on a bargain basement salary for two more years (one rookie, one on the qualifying offer), earn their free agency, and only get 25% of the cap from another team.

Now, all ‘five-year designated player’ contracts are not created equal. Players and teams can negotiate trade kickers, early termination options, and other minor clauses. For example, Kyrie Irving does have an ETO for his final season and a 15% trade kicker as well. Paul George’s contract has an ETO in year 5, but no trade kicker and in exchange for getting the ETO, the Pacers got him to agree to only start off at 27% as opposed to 30% in the event that he qualified for the Rose Rule (which he did). Meanwhile, John Wall is a straight 5-year contract with no ETO and since he did not meet the qualifications, he started at 25%. Quite frankly, the better the player, the more leverage he has. Expect Anthony Davis’s contract to have an opt-out in the 2020-21 season. The trade kicker, however, might work to the detriment of Davis if he wants out down the line, so I don’t know if that will be a part of his agents’ demands.

A couple of small things to note here as well. First, it is not a “true” 25% or 30% of the cap, which is why I used approximately earlier. It is 25% or 30% of a slightly small number that was negotiated a recent collective bargaining agreement. The two sides negotiated a different formula for setting the salary cap than they did for maximum salaries, so the two became decoupled. The salary cap is based on 44.74% of the BRI (Basketball Related Income), while maximum salaries are based on 42.14% of the BRI. So, for example, if BRI was 5 billion dollars, the salary cap would be a little less than $74.56 million (5 billion x 44.74%, less some deductions, divided by 30), but the 30% max salary would only start at a little less than $21.07 million (5 billion x 42.14%, less some deductions, divided by 30, then multiplied by 30%). As you can see, that is not 30% of the salary cap.

Second, you can sign other players on your team to 5-year contracts. Just not the designated 5-year contract. The Indiana Pacers, for example, re-signed George Hill for 5 years when he became a free agent, and that did not cost them their designated contract. The designated contract is an extension to a rookie deal, essentially giving you a one-time ability to have a guy under contract for six seasons. So, the Pelicans could sign AD and then turn around and give Jrue or Evans or Asik, etc. 5-year deals when their contract is up, like the Wizards just did for Marcin Gortat.

Also, once the 5-year designated contract is up, the Pelicans get the right to give it to somebody else if they so choose. And if they wanted to trade for a guy who was given designated contract by another team, they could do so. But you can only give out one designated contract. So in a world where the Pelicans kept Nerlens Noel and he became a superstar, they wouldn’t have been able to offer this contract to both Davis and Noel. This, in part, was why Harden wasn’t opposed to leaving OKC, as the Thunder could not offer him the five-year designated contract. Not saying that this was a big part of why Dell Demps has been willing to trade picks these last couple of years, but it is something to consider.

The Effects of the New Television Contract

You have probably heard about the new television contract that will come into effect starting in 2016. The current contract runs out after next season and the NBA will likely make close to double in their next deal, according to some projections. This directly affects the salary cap, and as we have seen, the salary cap directly affects Anthony Davis’s next contract if he is given the ‘five-year designated extension.’

The players are guaranteed to get no less than 49% of the BRI (Basketball Related Income) and no more than 51% of the BRI in each given season. For the purpose of this article, let’s assume that the players will get 50% of the BRI. A small percentage of that money goes towards benefits, while 44.74% (see above) is dedicated to the salary cap.  Now, television is only a portion of the income, but it is a large percentage. Currently, television accounts for about $930 million every year and total BRI projects to be between $4.5 and $5 billion these next two seasons. Now, we can do some complex math here, but let’s assume that the television deal essentially doubles and an extra $930 million is thrown into the pool. About half of that will go to the players, with 45% of it going towards the salary cap and the rest going towards benefits. Divide that up amongst 30 teams, and you are looking at the cap rising by about $15 million per team in that first year, just based off the new television deal.

Based on this conservative projection, it would be safe to assume that the salary cap for the 2016-17 season will be at least $80 million, with $85 million likely being the top end of the projection. Now, let’s go back to AD’s possible contracts. This would put the first year of Davis’s contract at $18.8 – $20 million if he did not meet the clauses of the Rose Rule. If he did, his contract would start at $22.6 – $24 million in year one. Again, factoring in standard increases over all five years in his contract, this could mean a difference of close to $25 million dollars over those five seasons, depending on how much the cap increases. The first table below will shows what his contract will look like, give or take, if the cap rises to $80 million, and the second table shows what his contract would look like, give or take, if the cap rises to $85 million.

Davis Contract Type2016-172017-182018-192019-202020-21Total Contract
No Rose Rule (25%)$18,837,729$20,250,559$21,769,351$23,402,052$25,157,205$109,416,896
Rose Rule (30%) $22,605,275$24,300,670$26,123,221$28,082,462$30,188,647$131,300,275


Davis Contract Type2016-172017-182018-192019-202020-21Total Contract
No Rose Rule (25%) $20,015,087$21,516,219$23,129,935$24,864,680$26,729,531$116,255,452
Rose Rule (30%)$24,018,104$25,819,462$27,755,921$29,837,615$32,075,437$139,506,539


The 1800+ words can be summed up like this: On July 1st of 2015, the New Orleans Pelicans will present Anthony Davis with a five-year extension that will likely wind up being in the neighborhood of $110 – $140 million when it is all said and done. There is no sure-fire way to know at this point what the final numbers will be, and in fact, the Pelicans and Anthony Davis will not know what the final terms of the contract will be on the day he signs it. But it will be signed, because it is far more financial security than he can get in any other scenario.

Nobody has ever turned down the ‘five year designated contract’ and AD likely won’t be the first. Based on recent precedent, we could expect to see Davis negotiate for an ETO in the final season, and this basically puts the team on a five-year time table starting this season. They will have the last two seasons that he is under his current contract and the first three of his new contract to show him that he can win here. If not, Davis could very easily do what Kevin Love is doing now (and Chris Paul did before him), and threaten to opt out and leave the following season if the team does not trade him. Once we hit the summer of 2019, Davis will have all the leverage, so it is imperative that the team shows him that this is the best place for him by then.

The eventual dollar figure attached to the contract will depend on two major factors:

  • The new TV contract
  • Whether Davis meets the ‘Rose Rule’ criteria

In all likelihood, we won’t know the exact figures until some time in June of 2016 what Davis’s contract will look like, because that is when the All-NBA teams are released. Some might root for Davis not to meet the criteria because that would likely add an addition 4-6 million dollars in cap room each season, and while that is understandable, I believe that Davis will be underpaid regardless of whether he meets the criteria or not. If Davis becomes the MVP candidate that most expect, his true value would probably be closer to $40-$50 million per year over the course of that extension. It’s nice to save money wherever you can, but some players are simply worth paying top dollar for, and Davis is one of those players.

Something else to keep in mind is that while I have stated in the past several times that 2015 could be the last chance for Dell to make a big move for a core piece, the truth is that he can also set things up so that he can make a splash in 2016 if he so chooses. Jrue Holiday and Tyreke Evans will be on bargain basement deals at that point, accounting for approximately $22 million against a cap that figures to be between $80 and $85 million. Even if you add in Davis at the highest level possible and Omer Asik on a contract similar to Marcin Gortat’s new deal, the Pelicans will still have more than $20 million in salary cap room. And that is the low side of the projection, with $30-$35 million in cap room a realistic possibility if they clear out everyone else on the roster – something they would do if say Kevin Durant were interested in teaming up with AD.

In the summer of 2017, the team would likely have to give significant raises to both Jrue Holiday and Tyreke Evans if they wanted to keep them around, but there is a window for the Pelicans to do something major in either 2015 or 2016, even with AD’s new deal on the horizon. By the end of the summer of 2016, however, the team will likely have whatever core it wants around Davis locked into place and will move forward with that core, trying to get the championships that will satisfy Davis and keep him here long term.

You will undoubtedly hear (or read) misinformed people tell you that the Pelicans are in danger of losing Davis if they don’t show him they can win big in the next year or two, and now you have the ammunition to correct them. Or you can just point them to this article so you can save your breath (or fingers). The fact is that Davis is here for a minimum of five more years, and in all likelihood, a couple of more after that. Davis is less than 350 days away from signing a contract that will make him financially stable for the rest of his life, and the Pelicans will fork over $100 million with a smile on their face, because they will be securing one of the best bargains in the entire NBA for at least another four years.

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In the NO Podcast Episode 186: James Ham on the Kingly Pelicans Mon, 21 Jul 2014 05:30:43 +0000 Cowbell Kingdom’s James Ham joins us to talk about the new former Kings the Pelicans have imported: John Salmons, Jimmer Fredette, Omri Casspi – and of course, we can’t avoid talking Tyreke Evans too. Then Michael and I talk about rotations, Darius Miller returning to the team, and who the most irreplaceable Pelican is this year. Michael is wrong, as usual.

Thanks to James for joining us!  Enjoy the Podcast!

Like the Show or the Blog?

Like the music?

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New Orleans Pelicans End Summer League With Loss to Timberwolves Sat, 19 Jul 2014 13:18:07 +0000 Russ Smith and the Pelicans started off red-hot, but they could not maintain the offense they produced in the first quarter, and as a result, they lost to the Timberwolves 97-78. Smith finished with 21, and the only other Pelican in double figures was Cameron Ayers, who had 11. The Pelicans went cold after jumping out to a 30-22 lead after the first quarter, scoring just 48 points the rest of the way, while the Wolves out up 22 or more in every quarter.

It wasn’t much of a game down the stretch, so instead of recapping the Pelicans third straight loss, I want to take an overall look at what we saw from the Pelicans in Summer League and what, if anything, we can learn from it.

Notes and Observations

- Russ Smith finished Summer League averaging 16 points, 6.4 assists, and 5 rebounds. He shot just 43.4% and averaged 4.2 turnovers, but if you take out that terrible first half in his first game where he was still adjusting, he shot 46% and less than 4 turnovers. Smith got into the lane at will and found guys on kick outs throughout these five games. He often left his feet with no clear plan, and that resulted in some ugly turnovers. His spot-up three point shot is smooth, but when he takes a three off the dribble, he seems to push the ball rather than release it smoothly and the results aren’t great.

Smith has a solid mid-range game, showcasing a pull-up jumper and floater, and he can finish in a multitude of ways when he gets to the rim. Defensively, he is a pest on the ball who often anticipates his opponents next move and gets his share of on-ball steals. Off the ball, he has good awareness, but his height can work to his detriment when his man angles to the rim and gets a lob or back door pass. Overall, he is a guy that I am sure will make it in this league because he simply refuses to fail. Whether he gets minutes this season or not will all depend on whether he can cut down on those bad habits. If he can, he could move into the upper echelon of backup point guards.

- This was supposed to be Jeff Withey’s Summer League, as the coaches wanted to get him involved early and often. The goal for him was to be a double-double machine and a defensive anchor. He accomplished neither. He looked slow, and quite frankly, disinterested at times. He lumbered up and down the court and found himself on the perimeter far too often on offense. He put up just 7 points and 6 rebounds and shot just 40% against a bunch of bigs who probably won’t play a minute of basketball in the league this year.

He never had more than 4 defensive rebounds in a single game and never took more than 8 shots. He could not establish deep low post position, and his jumper was off for most of the tournament. Basically, he looked like most of the other big men in Summer League, but those guys are going back to the D-League or Europe. Withey was trying to prove that he deserved a spot in a rotation for a team trying to make the playoffs in the Western Conference. Nothing he did should give the team or fans any hope that he can overtake Alexis Ajinca for the backup spot.

- Patric Young, meanwhile, showed some promise and there is reason to believe that he can provide a spark for the Pelicans this season if and when he is officially signed to a contract. Young led the team with 8 rebounds per game despite getting just 25 minutes per game, and he often times was the only Pelican going all out defensively. Young dove for loose balls, always found a man to box out, and talked every possession. Offensively, he rarely got his number called, but he found ways to get buckets and always ran the floor hard.

There have been conflicting reports as to whether Young has signed anything with the Pelicans, but I think we are all rooting for him to join the team. Young’s energy and effort is needed on this young team, even if it only shows itself in practice and for spot minutes during the season. Quite frankly, he looked better than Withey in almost every way during Summer League, and it would be a shame to see him join another team after having first crack at him. Here’s hoping Dealer Dell gets it done.

- Darius Miller being brought back was expected, but I found it curious that Jimmer Fredette was signed yesterday. I was convinced that the Pelicans would leave the 15th roster spot open for several guys to computer for, including Cortney Fells, James Southerland, and Dequan Jones. Instead, they chose Jimmer, and now it looks like the roster is set if and when Dell signs Patric Young. Fells looked like the best player of the young wings, at least offensively. He was willing to let shots fly whenever he found an opening, and he had a relatively quick release. I am convinced that he will eventually find a spot in this league, and maybe he is a guy Dell has on his radar for next year if he continues to grow as a player on the other end of the floor.

- Now we get into the dead season. No more games, and likely no more transactions. We will have a podcast soon, and the articles will keep coming, but there will be nothing until Team USA (snd Anthony Davis) takes the court. Then, Pelicans basketball will start again in October. It is going to be hard to wait, but there is plenty to be excited about with this roster.

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Game On: New Orleans Pelicans vs. Minnesota Timberwolves Sat, 19 Jul 2014 00:14:28 +0000 And now we have come to the 5th and final game of Summer League, as the New Orleans Pelicans end their run in the Consolation Bracket. After three close games, yesterday was tough, as the Hornets got red-hot and mowed down the Pelicans. Russ Smith was stellar once again, but he got little help outside of Courtney Fells, and if the Pelicans want to win this one that can’t happen again. Shabazz Muhammad, Zach Lavine, and Alexey Shved can all score on the wings and Gorgui Deng is an absolute beast on the boards.

Jeff Withey and Patric Young are going to have to show up today in the paint and on the glass to keep the Wolves from getting easy buckets and second chance opportunities. That is what killed them yesterday, and it can’t happen again. Those two also have to be more aggressive offensively. But at the end of the day, this team will probably go as Russ Smith goes, and he has had four games now where he has been brilliant for part of the game and maddening for other parts. It would be nice to see him put it all together and go out with a truly special performance.

Notes and Observations

- It looks like the Pelicans have filled out their roster with the signings of John Salmons, Jimmer Fredette, and Darius Miller. That brings us to 14, and you have to believe that Patric Young gets a contract offer any day now, which will max the Pelicans out at 15. The Pelicans have surrounded their penetrators and AD with shooters, and with AD and Asik on the back line, they can afford to go small from time to time. Expect to see a lot of three-guard lineups with AD and Asik on the floor, including a starting lineup of Jrue-Gordon-Evans.

- You have to wonder why the Pelicans didn’t leave a roster spot open for Fells and Jones, Southerland, etc. to compete for. Were they not as good in practice as they were in the games? Were they not willing to come to camp without guarantees? Who knows, but with how well Fells played in particular, I was a little surprised Demps gave Fredette that final perimeter roster spot.

- Unless somebody goes crazy or Russ Smith puts up a goose egg, Smith should walk away with the SL assists title. That’s something, right?

- Game tips off at 8 Central. It will not be on NBATV, but you can watch it on with the SL pass. Or you can watch it at 8:00 am tomorrow on NBATV

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Why The New Orleans Pelicans Shouldn’t Play Transition Basketball Fri, 18 Jul 2014 17:00:54 +0000 It isn’t a question of pace but of getting out in transition is something Mason pointed out to me on twitter the other day. I was saying that I think the New Orleans Pelicans will play with a slower pace because of the Omer Asik trade, but Mason was right: Transition is the correct word even though it ties in with pace.

But whatever. The Pelicans shouldn’t get out and play in transition.

It almost seems counter intuitive with the Asik signing. The team has athletic players in Jrue Holiday, Tyreke Evans, and Anthony Davis, and now a guy to swallow up the ball on defense. This New Orleans Pelicans team is almost built to run.

But that doesn’t mean they should.

Even with Asik’s rim protection and rebounding skills the Pelicans still suffer in two areas…

Defensive Rebounding

The Pelicans ranked 21st in DRB% last season. They simply gave up too many second chance points. Combine that with being below average in causing turnovers and you have opponents who maintain offensive possessions. It’s no surprise the Pelicans ranked 27th in defensive efficiency last season.

Adding in Asik and his career 28.2 DRB% helps but the team is still losing Aminu and his rebounding abilities. Anthony Davis will certainly improve but opponents will reason they are going up against a monster front court and look to take one of the two Pelicans towers out of the paint through the use of high pick and rolls, etc. Unfortunately, Asik can’t fix everything himself.

In Monty Williams’ first season the then-Hornets finished with a defensive efficiency of 10th best in the league. They also ranked 2nd in DRB%. That defense was anchored by Emeka Okafor—much like the Pelicans defense will be stabilized by Asik. But the main reason for the high DRB% was the gang-rebounding style Monty likes to use. It was not uncommon to see four then-Hornets crashing the glass after an opponent’s miss.

You can look at the stats and say Asik and Davis are better rebounders than Okafor, Aaron Gray, David West, and Jason Smith. No one will debate that but their stats that season dip because everyone on the floor was hitting the boards. Yet, even with two superior rebounders this coming year, I expect to see more gang-rebounding and less transition because…

The Perimeter Defense Is Bad

The Pelicans’ guards and wings are going to get beat on the perimeter. This forces the bigs in Davis and Asik to rotate over to try and contest open looks or clog the lane to the rim. Sure they may force a miss but they will be taken out of rebounding position because of this. And that opens the door for the opponent to grab offensive rebounds or at least establish superior position under the hoop. Gang-rebounding eliminates this. Defenders flaring out in transition doesn’t. Getting stops should be the priority over scoring easy points, at least right now for this team.

This doesn’t mean the Pelicans won’t get out and run after defensive stops, but I find it more likely they play in transition close to the 9.8% of the time in 2010-11 than the 13.6% from last season. Monty likes the slow defensive, grind it out style of basketball; and there is enough fire power to score in a slower half court style of offense. It’s not as fun and exciting, but if it leads to a playoff spot, like in 2010-11, I don’t think anyone will really complain.

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New Orleans Pelicans Add Shooters in Salmons, Fredette, and Miller Fri, 18 Jul 2014 13:26:11 +0000 After the trade for Omer Asik, Dell Demps had the core of his roster in place, but there were still holes on the wings. As the saying goes, ‘You can never have enough shooting’, and Dell is proving that by adding John Salmons, Darius Miller and Jimmer Fredette to fill out the roster this week, according to reports. While John Salmons struggled a bit last season with other aspects of his game, he was still a terrific shooter, as he nailed 42.6% of his catch-and-shoot 3-pt attempts. Jimmer Fredette was at 50% on catch-and-shoot threes last year, though on a limited sample size. And Miller has always been a good shooter when he is willing to let them go. He hesitates far too often, but last season we saw Miller take a step forward as he was instrumental in wins over the Clippers and Thunder late in the year.

Salmons is the guy most likely to get significant minutes when all these guys are healthy, and the hope is that he thrives in a more limited role. In Sacramento and Toronto, he handled the ball a lot, with pick and rolls and isolations accounting for over 40% of his possessions. He was ineffective in those settings, but was great when he just set his feet and shot off of kick outs. With Tyreke Evans, Eric Gordon, Jrue Holiday, Russ Smith, and Austin Rivers all likely to handle the ball, the hope is that all Monty will ask Salmons to do is hit the spot-up three.

Just over 35% of Salmons two-point baskets were assisted on. It is no coincidence that he shot just 35% from two-point range. Meanwhile, nearly 94% of Salmons three-point makes were assisted on. It is also not a coincidence that he shot 39% from three, including 47% from the corner. If utilized properly, there is no doubt that Salmons can have a positive effect on the offensive end. The bigger question is whether his 35-year-old legs can keep up with the young wings on the other end. Watching his defensive possessions on Synergy, I see an intelligent team defender with length that should be able to push his man into the defensive lockjaw that is Anthony Davis and Omer Asik.

Jimmer Fredette is the biggest variable of the three. A 10th overall pick just three years ago, Fredette is now on his third team and has been an effective scorer, but is a guy coaches need to hide on the other end. He also tends to play with the ball too much on the offensive end, as he still seems to believe he is more of a point guard than a shooting guard. As I noted, he is a terrific spot-up shooter, but over his career, only about 15% of his shots have come on the spot-up while nearly 50% have come out of the pick and roll.

When you sign guys for the minimum, you play the ‘If’ game. If Anthony Morrow could stay healthy, he could be a real find for this team. If Alexis Ajinca can keep from fouling so much…. If Pops Mensah-Bonsu…., etc. Well, it’s no different for Jimmer. IF you can hide him on defense and put one or two shot blockers behind him, and IF you convince him to just catch-and shoot, then you might have a bit of a steal here.

Darius Miller is no different. IF he can play with the defensive intensity that we saw him play with against Durant and IF he has the confidence in his offensive game that he showed against the Clippers, then his experience in this system can give him a chance to jump into the rotation. What Dell Demps has done here is throw 20-25 minutes out there in front of numerous players who are desperate to prove that they belong in this league and told them to go out there and prove that they can get the job done.

They don’t have to do too much. The superstar is here. The playmakers are all over the court. Just catch-and shoot, oh and play some defense. In addition to these three, Luke Babbitt has been working all summer to improve his speed and agility so he can defend the small forward position. It looks like there are some hungry shooters on the Summer League team too, but with guaranteed contracts, these guys will have the first crack at those 20-25 minutes. And what they need to do is clear: Just Catch. And Shoot.

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Farewell to a True Pelican, Jason Smith Fri, 18 Jul 2014 12:30:04 +0000 Saying goodbye is never easy, especially when you’re doing so to the longest tenured player from your favorite team. Jason Smith has given us so much on and off the court that it’s going to be hard to see him in anything besides a New Orleans Pelicans jersey, but especially one that says Knicks.

When Smith showed up in New Orleans expectations were fairly low, as they rightly should have been. He came over from the 76ers along with Willie Green for Darius Songaila and Craig Brackins. Not exactly a star-studded trade…

After a his first season, few were sold on Smith as an integral part of moving forward. To paraphrase myself – There isn’t much use for a jump shooting big man who is a subpar defender and really can’t shoot that well. Fortunately management knew better than to let him walk, signing Smith to what wound up being a pretty sweet three year deal worth a mere 7.5 million.

Oh boy did I enjoy eating my words throughout the next three seasons. Smith turned a corner after his initial year in New Orleans; Improving on defense, establishing himself as a locker room leader, and excelling on the offensive boards. Outside of his contributions to the basketball side of things, Smith became one of the main faces of the franchise. He was used in all sorts of team oriented advertising, as well as the rebrand, and was arguably was the most recognizable Pelican to New Orleanians prior to Anthony Davis coming aboard.

Playing 199 games over his four years with the club, Smith finds himself all over the new New Orleans all time leaderboard (2002-2014) in games played (9th), offensive rebounds (10th), offensive rebound percentage (10th), total rebound percentage (10th) blocks (8th), blocks per game (8th), block percentage (5th), field goal percentage (5th), free throw percentage (9th),  and personal fouls (8th).

Speaking of fouls, who could ever forget Smith laying out Blake Griffin in one of the most epic Hornets games in history. Let’s take one more look at that for old times sake–

Speaking with Smith after that foul it was clear that although it likely earned him the largest ovation he’s ever received, making him an instant fan favorite to Nola fans and Blake-haters across the league, he was not proud of it. In fact, he called it one of his most regrettable moments ever on the court. I will always remember the look on his face when I asked him what it felt like having that play be his most famous to date.

While some athletes would play it off as something that Blake deserved, or simply an inadvertent mistake, Smith took the blame for it entirely. He did it, he meant to do it (although not that hard), and he would take whatever punishment came his way. Nay, he deserved whatever punishment came his way. I’ve never seen such a huge disparity in how a fan base felt about an action compared to how the player himself felt. He took no joy in the hard foul, regardless of the consequences it had on the game (a victory).

Jason Smith was a kind and compassionate human being in a league overflowing with hubris. He was always willing to give an interview, regardless of how tough the questions were going to be, regardless of what he’d done or not done recently on the court. Every Pelicans reporter will miss how easygoing he was in the locker room, and as far as I know there was literally not a single time that he was anything but helpful.

Stories of fans running into Smith off the court yield similar stories of his character. If you have a particularly good one please leave it in the comments as a lasting testament to just how much we enjoyed having him in New Orleans.

Always working at his game, he was a favorite of Monty Williams who once called him the backbone of the bench unit. To this day I still can’t think of a negative thing Monty ever said about Smith as a person, or a single time his effort was questioned by anyone– coach or fan.

When I fantasize about the basketball player I may have been had I not mysteriously stopped growing at just under 6’0, Jason Smith was who came to mind. Perhaps that’s why I liked his game so much. It wasn’t that he was the most naturally gifted player, or the biggest guy on the court. He didn’t wow you with his ball skills or dunk like a boss. Smith just cared about what he did, worked to get better, and gave it the full 100% every single time he stepped on the floor. He never backed down from a challenge or gave up anything without a fight.

I’ll miss Jason Smith, the original Pelican.

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Red Hot Hornets Take Down the Pelicans Thu, 17 Jul 2014 22:17:02 +0000 The Hornets should consider changing their names to the Opossums, because that is what they played the first week in Summer League. Charlotte was one of the worst teams in Summer League for the first three games, shooting just over 35%. Today, however, they could not miss. And as a result, they pulled off their second straight upset, beating the Pelicans 104-75.

Charlotte shot 50% from the field, as they able to both get anything they wanted in the paint and light it up from behind the arc (shot 60%). PJ Hairston led the Hornets with 21, while Rion Brown and Cody Zeller added 16 and Josh Davis added 14 and 12. Meanwhile, New Orleans only had two of their five big guns show up, as Russ Smith and Courtney Fells combined to score 38 points. Patric Young, Jeff Withey, and DeQuan Jones were virtual no shows however, combining for just 11 points on 8 shots.

Honestly, it wouldn’t have mattered in this game, but the Pelicans were terrible from the free throw line again, shooting just 60.9% (14-23). Russ Smith was doing all he could do keep New Orleans in the game, but he just didn’t have enough help inside, and that is where Charlotte truly dominated. The Hornets dominated the glass (38-26), as the Pelicans got just 4 second chance opportunities, despite missing 34 shots. They were one and done on that end, while the Hornets were getting whatever they wanted on the other end. Hence, the blowout.

Notes and Observations

- This was supposed to be the summer of Withey, but it is hard to walk away impressed, as he has looked clumsy on the offensive side of the ball and incredibly slow on the defensive end. While it is true that Summer League is more guard friendly, I was expecting to see Withey at least be a presence on defense, while scoring some garbage points on the offensive end. He really hasn’t done either of those things. But again, it’s Summer League. It could just as easily be an aberration as a sign of things to come.

- Patric Young didn’t even get a field goal attempt in this game. He took two free throws and missed them both. Young will be going against this kind of size in the NBA, and today showed that sometimes you need more than energy and effort. His defense was good and he grabbed some boards in the first half, but he was not the standout player we saw in the first two games.

- Courtney Fells should get a training camp invite, and perhaps even some guaranteed money. After his Summer League this year, I am sure there will be a few teams trying to snatch him up. He only has 1 assist in 4 games, but who cares? The guy would be brought in to shoot, and he can do that.

- The Pelicans will play at 7PM Central tomorrow against Minnesota. It will be their final Summer League game.

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