Pelicans wing Naji Marshall has emerged as a bright spot as the team deals with injuries, Christian Clark of NOLA.com writes. Marshall has given New Orleans production in the absences of Josh Hart (thumb), Nickeil Alexander-Walker (ankle) and Lonzo Ball (hip), doing so on a two-way contract.
“He’s putting it on the floor and making plays,” head coach Stan Van Gundy said. “He’s taking advantage of his opportunity. I like that. He’s doing a good job there. And we’ll continue to see what he does the rest of the year.”
Marshall signed with New Orleans after going undrafted last year. The 23-year-old is averaging 5.3 points, 3.4 rebounds and 16.9 minutes in 16 games this season, shooting 38% from the floor. He most recently added 16 points on Saturday against Washington and 14 points on Thursday against New York.
Here are some other notes out of New Orleans tonight:
- Some rival executives believe the Pelicans could be open to a sign-and-trade involving Ball this offseason, as relayed by Brian Windhorst and Andrew Lopez of ESPN.com. “Unless they can trade (Eric) Bledsoe, they will probably be hard-pressed to re-sign both Lonzo and Hart,” one executive said. “They don’t pay the (luxury) tax.” The Pelicans and Hornets are the only franchises to never pay the luxury tax, Windhorst and Lopez note, with Ball and Hart set to become restricted free agents.
- Jaxson Hayes has gradually transitioned from question mark to keeper for New Orleans, Christian Clark writes in a separate story for NOLA.com. Hayes, 20, is averaging 6.3 points, 3.8 rebounds and 14.8 minutes per game this season.
- William Guillory and John Hollinger of The Athletic examine the team’s salary-cap situation and upcoming offseason. In addition to Ball and Hart being restricted free agents, the team also has James Johnson and Willy Hernangomez set to enter unrestricted free agency, but most of its core will remain under contract.