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New Orleans Pelicans

Sixers Expected To Pursue Jrue Holiday In Free Agency

The Sixers will take a hard look at Jrue Holiday in free agency, sources tell Zach Lowe of ESPN.com. Philadelphia will have the available cap space to offer the point guard a lucrative contract should it chose to do so and Lowe notes that Holiday would be a great fit alongside Ben Simmons.

The Pelicans are worried that Holiday could walk at the end of the season. They are also worried that his departure would cause Anthony Davis to be frustrated with the direction of the franchise. Davis wants Holiday to remain in New Orleans, but he understands it’s out of his control.  “I’m gonna do everything in my power to keep him here,” Davis said. “But it’s a business decision, and he’s a grown man with a family.”

New Orleans could deal Holiday before the deadline out of fear that it will lose him for nothing over the summer. However, Lowe adds that it’s more likely that they hold onto him and hope the free agent bidding war doesn’t get too out of hand.

Holiday previously said he hasn’t thought about his potential free agent decision. He’ll make slightly under $11.3MM this season in the final year of his deal.

And-Ones: Davis, Harris, Blair, Bentil

Anthony Davis left today’s game versus the Pacers after injuring his right hip and left thumb. The X-rays he received on both areas came back negative, according to the team’s Twitter feed. Davis hurt his left hip last week against the Knicks, which forced him to miss the ensuing contest against the Nets. The Pelicans won’t play again until Wednesday, so the team will have a couple of days to evaluate Davis’ latest ailment. The big man has only missed three games this season, though he missed parts of six other contests because of various injuries.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Gary Harris injured his right ankle today and he’s not expected to play on Tuesday when the Nuggets take on the Lakers, Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post relays. Injuries have prevented Harris from suiting up in 21 of the team’s 38 games this season.
  • The Texas Legends, the D-League affiliate of the Mavs, have acquired DeJuan Blair, according to Chris Reichert of The Step Back (Twitter link). Blair played for the Wizards last season before the team traded him to the Suns in the Markieff Morris deal. Phoenix waived the power forward just days after the trade.
  • Ben Bentil has rejoined the Fort Wayne Mad Ants of the D-League, Reichert reports (Twitter link). Bentil played for the Mad Ants earlier in the season before taking a deal in China.

NBA Players Who Still Aren’t Trade-Eligible

Most of 2016’s offseason signees became eligible to be traded on December 15, and 21 more had their trade restrictions lifted on Sunday. Now that we’ve passed January 15, nearly all of the players in the NBA are trade-eligible, but there are still a handful of guys who can’t be moved.

Generally speaking, a player who signs a new contract becomes eligible to be dealt after three months or on December 15, whichever comes later. That’s why players who sign deals in July are eligible to be traded after December 15. For those free agents who didn’t sign until later in the year though, there are different deadlines.

Here are the players who signed recently enough that they aren’t yet trade-eligible:

By the time those players have been under contract for three months, it will be after this season’s February 23 trade deadline, meaning they can’t be traded at all during the season. Dinwiddie, who has a multiyear pact with Brooklyn, could be moved in the summer, but Brown and Motiejunas have one-year deals, meaning Houston and New Orleans won’t get a chance to trade them.

Players who recently signed contract extensions also face certain restrictions. These restrictions don’t apply to the group of players that signed rookie-scale extensions prior to October 31, but they do apply to guys like James Harden and Russell Westbrook, who had their deals renegotiated and extended during the offseason. Harden and Westbrook can’t be traded for six months after signing those extensions.

Since Harden signed his new deal on July 9, he became trade-eligible last Monday, though of course he’s not going anywhere. Westbrook, who is also untouchable at this point, signed his extension on August 4, meaning his trade restriction will lift on February 4.

In addition to those four players, there are four more who are currently on NBA rosters, but can’t be traded. Those four guys are on 10-day contracts, which can’t be moved to another team. Here’s the current list of players on 10-day deals, via our tracker:

In total, by our count, there are eight players currently on NBA rosters (out of 443) who are ineligible to be traded. That doesn’t include players who can veto trades, but even after taking those guys into account, NBA teams should still have plenty of flexibility to make moves in the coming weeks.

NBA D-League Assignments/Recalls: 1/12/17

  • The Jazz recalled guards Alec Burks and Raul Neto from the Salt Lake City Stars and assigned forward Joel Bolomboy to the same team, the team announced in a press release. The guard duo was assigned there on Wednesday to get some playing time against the Grand Rapids Drive and Neto finished one rebound shy of a triple-double. This marks the 10th assignment for Bolomboy.
  • The Knicks recalled forward Maurice Ndour and center Marshall Plumlee from their affiliate, the Westchester Knicks, the team’s PR staff tweets. That duo combined for 24 points and 20 rebounds against the Maine Red Claws after being assigned on Tuesday.
  • The Nets recalled forward Chris McCullough from their Long Island affiliate and he was available against the Pelicans on Thursday night, the team tweets. McCullough poured in 37 points in Long Island’s 138-133 overtime win over the Greensboro Swarm earlier in the day, his 22nd appearance with the D-League club.
  • The Pelicans recalled forward Cheick Diallo, who was also playing for the Long Island Nets, the team’s PR department tweets. He played two games there, averaging 12.0 points in 17.4 minutes after going there on Tuesday under the flexible assignment rule.
  • The Thunder assigned guard Semaj Christon to the Oklahoma City Blue, the team announced in a tweet. Christon has appeared in 36 games with the Thunder this season, averaging 3.2 points and 1.4 assists in 15.4 minutes.
  • The Trail Blazers assigned guard Tim Quarterman to the Windy City Bulls under the flex rule, they announced in a press release. The rookie has made 12 brief appearances with the Blazers this season.

Holiday, Evans Worth Monitoring As Deadline Nears

  • The Rockets aren’t active in trade talks, and even though GM Daryl Morey never sits still, the team is more likely to do something minor than major, if it makes a move at all, tweets Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders. Kyler also weighed in on the Pelicans, tweeting that Jrue Holiday and Tyreke Evans, who are eligible for free agency this summer, are worth keeping an eye on as the trade deadline nears.

Motiejunas Discusses Free Agency, Rockets, Pelicans

Few NBA players experienced the sort of roller coaster ride that Donatas Motiejunas did in 2016. Coming off a promising 2014/15 season, the big man battled injuries in 2015/16, and was included in a deadline deal that would have sent him from the Rockets to the Pistons in February. However, that trade was vetoed due to health concerns about Motiejunas’ back.

Still a Rocket, Motiejunas finished out the season in Houston and became a restricted free agent in the summer. D-Mo subsequently spent more than five months on the free agent market, ultimately landing a four-year offer sheet with the Nets that was matched by the Rockets.

However, a dispute over the incentives included in the offer sheet prompted Motiejunas not to report to Houston, which resulted in the two sides redoing his deal, then scrapping it entirely. The 26-year-old became an unrestricted free agent, signing a one-year, minimum salary contract with the Pelicans, a far cry from the $37MM offer sheet he had received from Brooklyn.

In the wake of a tumultuous 2016, Motiejunas is ready to turn the page. Speaking to Michael Scotto of Basketball Insiders, the new Pelicans big man admitted that his NBA career has been a “big mess” so far, Still, Motiejunas remains confident in his ability to contribute on the court, and is optimistic about doing better on the free agent market next summer. Here are some more of the highlights of D-Mo’s conversation with Scotto:

On his restricted free agency with the Rockets:

“Honestly, you can say it was business stuff, but, from my side, I’m a basketball player, I just want to play. Being involved in that business situation, it was one of the worst experiences of my life that I’ve had. I would say, from any basketball player, we work every day, we put our sweat, we put our tears, we put our blood on the floor, try to help and make teams better, so when someone acts with you like this, it’s just wrong.”

On the resolution of his RFA saga:

“The team lost an asset. I lost $37-38MM, so both sides lost in this situation. No one won in this situation actually. … It was just a ridiculous situation, the resolution was taking too long, and it was affecting me as a player, and it was affecting me personally. Instead of being a business decision it was like more of a personal decision.

On how frustrating it was to be in free agent limbo:

“The hardest part, probably, was that unknown. Where am I going to go? Where am I going to be? What’s going to happen? I keep on talking with people. I was talking with the people in the [players’ union]. I was talking with people from the NBA. I was talking with people from the teams and they keep on telling me, ‘Tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow.’ At one point I was like, ‘Tomorrow has already been two weeks. I want to play. I’m hungry.’ I’m sitting, watching these games, and I’m like, ‘I can help each of these teams to be better.’ It was a really tough moment for me, probably all of 2016.”

On his fit with the Pelicans:

“My goal is to help Anthony Davis to be better, my goal is to help the other players play the right way, help them to find a role. I’m the player who’s going to, if you’re wide open on the floor, I’m going to pass you the ball. That’s who I am. I’m unselfish. … We have a lot of great shooters here who can take open shots. I think they were missing the person who could deliver the ball to them and who can space when Anthony Davis is playing in the post or on the elbow. That’s who I am. That’s who I’m going to try to be.”

Alexis Ajinca Frustrated With Role For Pelicans

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.”

NBA D-League Assignments/Recalls: 1/10/17

Here are Tuesday’s D-League assignments and recalls from across the NBA:

10:40 pm: 

  • The Nets have recalled Chris McCullough from their D-League affiliate, the Long Island Nets, according to a team press release. The power forward played seven games with Long Island during his latest stint, averaging 18.8 points, 8.4 rebounds and 1.3 steals per contest.

3:17 pm

  • The Kings have sent 2016 first-round pick Malachi Richardson to the D-League, the team announced today (via Twitter). In 11 games so far this season for the Reno Bighorns, Richardson has averaged 21.0 PPG and 4.3 RPG.
  • The Pelicans have re-assigned rookie forward Cheick Diallo to the D-League, the team announced today (via Twitter). Interestingly, after being assigned to San Antonio’s affiliate twice earlier in the season, Diallo joined the Long Island Nets this time around. New Orleans doesn’t have its own NBADL squad, so the club needs to rely on other affiliates, using the flexible assignment rule.
  • Maurice Ndour and Marshall Plumlee have been assigned to the D-League, according to a tweet from the Knicks. Both players are expected to suit up tonight for the Westchester Knicks, New York’s NBADL affiliate.

Gentry Explains Why Pelicans Won't Consider Moving Anthony Davis

Fans of the Celtics and other NBA clubs shouldn’t waste their time pining for Anthony Davis, writes Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald. As Bulpett details, Davis is under contract with the Pelicans through at least 2020, and there’s no chance the team will consider moving him anytime soon — in fact, Alvin Gentry laughed at the idea.

“Let me tell you, I learned a long time ago — and this is my 28th year in the league — that you don’t trade great for good, no matter how many you get,” said the Pelicans’ head coach. “Having one great player really makes your team better than having three good players. … We love what we have in him, and it’s just a matter of time. I think if we were healthy, you would see us be a better team anyway, and we’re getting to the point where we are healthy, and we’re playing better basketball.”

Pelicans Committee To Davis: Motiejunas Debuts

Anthony Davis won’t be leaving New Orleans until at least 2020, according to Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald. The Celtics may dream of packaging their draft picks and young talent for an elite player, but Davis is apprently not an option. Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry made that clear when asked about the possibility before the two teams met Saturday night. “Let me tell you, I learned a long time ago — and this is my 28th year in the league — that you don’t trade great for good, no matter how many you get,” Gentry said. “Having one great player really makes your team better than having three good players. And they’ve proven that. … So we love what we have in him, and it’s just a matter of time. I think if we were healthy, you would see us be a better team anyway, and we’re getting to the point where we are healthy, and we’re playing better basketball.” Davis is in the first season of a five-year, $145MM extension he signed in 2015.

  • After signing contracts with the Nets and Rockets last month, Donatas Motiejunas made his season debut Saturday with the Pelicans. He played 20 minutes in a reserve role and contributed 11 points and five rebounds. “He gave us some huge minutes,” Davis told Jim Eichenhofer of NBA.com. “He’s going to continue to get better and find his role in our system.” (Twitter link).

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