1:42pm: The Pelicans are expected to use the roster spot on a guard, just as they did in December, the last time they had a hardship exception, Kushner writes. They signed Jimmer Fredette then, as Kushner points out. Fredette is once more a free agent following the expiration of his 10-day contract with the Knicks.
1:16pm: The NBA has given the Pelicans a 16th roster spot via hardship to offset their injuries, sources tell Scott Kushner of The New Orleans Advocate (Twitter link). The team has two days from the time the league formally grants the provision to use it. The roster spot lasts 10 days, though the team can apply to renew it.
It appears the latest injury to Eric Gordon triggered the hardship. Gordon is reportedly having surgery today after breaking his right ring finger for the second time in less than two months, and the Pelicans fear the soon-to-be free agent will miss the rest of the season. Tyreke Evans, Quincy Pondexter and Bryce Dejean-Jones have already suffered season–ending injuries. The hardship comes into play when at least four players are likely to miss two or more weeks, and with Gordon under the knife, that appears to be the case for New Orleans.
Injuries have ravaged the Pelicans throughout the season, capsizing what appeared to be a team on the rise, and Coach Alvin Gentry this past weekend acknowledged the need to shift the focus to the long-term future rather than an 11th-hour bid for a playoff spot. Thus, with six and a half games separating them from a playoff spot, the Pelicans seem more likely to go after players with upside than older veterans. Shams Charania of The Vertical on Yahoo Sports linked the team to Orlando Johnson and Elijah Millsap in a January report that also mentioned Dejean-Jones, who eventually joined the team. Millsap just reached a buyout agreement with Israel’s Maccabi Tel Aviv, sources told Sportando’s Orazio Cauchi (Twitter link),