The Pelicans have shuffled their frontcourt rotation in recent weeks, resulting in a significant reduction in playing time for big men Alexis Ajinca and Omer Asik. In fact, Ajinca hasn’t seen the court for the team since December 23, and admitted recently in a conversation with French publication L’Equipe that he’s not thrilled to spend so much time on the bench (hat tip to The Bird Writes).
“It’s very frustrating because I want to play, bring something to the team,” Ajinca said (his comments have been translated from French). “I worked a lot and got back into shape early in the season. It was noted by the coaches and the general manager. And then it came overnight … At first, I was told it was [due to] matchups and then afterwards, I was a little forgotten. Afterwards, when I play, it’s for five minutes and it’s hard to do a lot of things.”
A starter for New Orleans earlier in the season, Ajinca has averaged 4.5 PPG, 4.5 RPG, and a .465 FG% in 20 games so far. All of those marks are his worst since joining the team for the 2013/14 season. However, he remains under contract for two more years beyond this one, as his deal runs through 2018/19. Ajinca has a $4.638MM cap hit this season, and that figure will increase in each of the next two years.
In Ajinca’s view, a trade or even a buyout could be a realistic outcome. The veteran big man told L’Equipe that he remains motivated to handle the new role professionally and to give 100% effort when given the opportunity, because he doesn’t want potential suitors to be turned off by his attitude.
“I have to stay very professional because everyone talks in the league,” Ajinca said in French. “If a franchise inquires, they will ask how I behave when I do not play, etc. So we cannot have certain attitudes like being angry at the coach or others even if we are frustrated. … I try to stay myself and work. I’m arguing with my agent right now. We’ll see what happens.”