Pelicans GM On Jackson, Deadline, Free Agency

Pelicans GM Dell Demps says Pierre Jackson plans to play with the club during summer league, and that the team will continue to monitor the diminutive guard as he plays in Turkey on a deal that covers the rest of the season. New Orleans is in a tough position, sitting 10 and a half games out of the playoffs but four games up on the Lakers, the team with the fifth-worst record in the league. If the Pelicans don’t end up with a top-five pick this year, their first-rounder goes to the Sixers. Demps had more to say about Jackson and covered an array of other topics Monday with Pelicans broadcaster Sean Kelley, and provides the transcript. We’ll hit the highlights here:

On the trade deadline:

“I think for us at this trade deadline we were only looking to add to our core. We weren’t really looking to make any adjustments. We were looking to add. We didn’t want to give up any more assets to acquire any more players at this point. We did that last summer. We gave up a draft pick in this upcoming draft to acquire Jrue Holiday. We feel like Jrue Holiday is going to be our point guard for the future. We have him under contract for four years and we hope that he grows old here and his kids graduate from high school in New Orleans. We didn’t feel comfortable giving up any more assets for players at this time.”

On the team’s midseason signings of Luke Babbitt and Alexis Ajinca:

“Well, a guy like Babbitt, he was playing great in Europe and I really believe if he would have become a free agent this summer, a number of teams would have tried to get him. The reason why he was available, I thought we were able to get him out of his contract early and he didn’t hit the free agency market. I think the same thing for Ajinca. Ajinca was actually leading the Euro league in scoring, which is considered the best league outside the NBA, considered a higher level than college basketball. I think if he goes through the free agent market this summer a number of teams would have tried to acquire him. We thought that we were able to get in early and get those two guys into the program and really get a good understanding of if they can help us or if they cannot help us ahead of the curve. Next year is going to be a big year for us and you don’t want to go into next year with guys on the roster that we are still wondering about.”

On the team’s core:

“I still want to see this group play together. I believe in this group and we still want to add more pieces to this group. I think we are a fun group to watch. We are explosive. We can score a lot of points and I think moving forward we want to add a couple more pieces on the perimeter and interior and improve our defense. I think we will be able to score with anyone in the league.”

On whether he’s high on this summer’s crop of free agents:

“Of course. We are not into max games so we are not going to be looking for players with contracts more $10MM, but we have a number of exceptions that we can use and we have a couple of ways we can get creative as well.”

On Pierre Jackson

“The kid had some bad luck to start with. When we acquired him, we were stacked at the point guard position. Before we drafted him, we had conversations with him asking, ‘If we did draft you, we don’t know where you would fit on this year’s roster. Would you want to go overseas?’ He said yes. When we drafted him, we asked him to play summer league, but because of the trade he wasn’t cleared to play summer league until the third game. He didn’t get to come to the practices. Some guys had practiced for four or five days and they had a couple of games. We kind of just threw him into the fire. Then he catches pink eye, so he misses the next two days recovering from that and he comes back for the last game. He didn’t get a good opportunity to show what he could do.”

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