Didi Louzada

Pelicans Notes: Hayes, Backcourt, Louzada, Alexander-Walker

With several stars out of the lineup, Pelicans center Jaxson Hayes has turned into a reliable scorer, writes William Guillory of The Athletic. Hayes posted his fifth straight double-digit performance Friday night and tied his career high with 19 points.

Hayes’ role has expanded without Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram around to handle most of the offense, Guillory notes. Instead of relying on pick-and-rolls and passes near the basket, Hayes has shown an ability to hit floaters and push shots in the lane.

“He runs great, a great pick-and-roll guy to the rim, great on the offensive glass, high energy and he can finish around the basket,” coach Stan Van Gundy said. “He’s been active defensively. Those are the things he needs to keep doing. I think people make a mistake thinking the way to get better is to always expand your game. I’m not saying it’s bad, but if you get away from what you do really, really well, then you start to lose what makes you a really good player. Sometimes you want to expand people’s game. Sometimes you want to narrow it down.”

There’s more from New Orleans:

  • Among the things that went wrong for the Pelicans this season was a disappointing performance from the starting backcourt, claims Christian Clark of NOLA.com. Clark states that Lonzo Ball, who will be a restricted free agent this summer, improved as a three-point shooter but struggles in other areas when his outside shot isn’t falling. Eric Bledsoe, who has one more guaranteed year on his contract, often seemed to be “mentally checked out,” according to Clark.
  • Small forward Didi Louzada, who joined the Pelicans in late April, is getting a chance to play during the final week of the season, tweets Andrew Lopez of ESPN. “I would expect over these last three games he’ll get some minutes on the floor and we’ll be able to get a look at him,” Van Gundy said earlier this week, “but I don’t know if that’ll be a fair representation of what he can do for a guy to have one practice and not even a full fledged practice.”
  • While the Pelicans didn’t accomplish what they hoped to this season, the organization benefited from the development of Hayes and Nickeil Alexander-Walker, contends Scott Kushner of NOLA.com. The team also got to take a long look at Kira Lewis Jr., Naji Marshall and Willy Hernangomez to determine if they will be part of the future.

Southwest Notes: Hardaway, Ball, Tate, Louzada, Porzingis

Tim Hardaway Jr. has been improving his free agent stock with some high-level offensive performances in recent games. The Mavericks guard erupted for 42 points against Detroit last week and tore up Miami’s defense for 36 points on Wednesday, Callie Caplan of the Dallas Morning News notes. He drained a franchise record-tying 10 three-pointers against the Heat. “When you have been hot like that, had it going, you’re not really focused on any records or anything like that,” said Hardaway, who will be an unrestricted free agent after this season. “The game was just coming to me.”

We have more from the Southwest Division:

  • Pelicans guard Lonzo Ball tied his career best with 33 points against Golden State on Tuesday, bouncing back from a 3-for-18 shooting performance the previous game. He vowed to franchise player Zion Williamson in a text message that he wouldn’t have two bad outings in a row, according to ESPN’s Andrew Lopez. “I’m glad he’s my teammate,” Williamson said. “You love to have teammates like that can say stuff like that and come the next day and show out. He just wants to win.” Williamson’s “love” for Ball could be a factor in how aggressive the franchise is willing to be in retaining the point guard as a restricted free agent this summer.
  • The Rockets, who already have numerous players sitting out, added another one to the inactive list when forward Jae’Sean Tate was placed under the league’s health and safety protocols, according to Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle. The undrafted rookie has appeared in 65 games, including 53 starts, averaging 11.2 PPG and 5.4 RPG.
  • Didi Louzada has finally completed the work visa process and joined the Pelicans, Will Guillory of The Athletic tweets. New Orleans officially signed the draft-and-stash prospect on April 27. The Brazilian signed a multiyear contract after playing in Australia this season. He’ll be available to play on Friday, Lopez tweets.
  • Kristaps Porzingis is making progress from his sore right knee and Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle expects him to return before the postseason, Tim MacMahon of ESPN tweets“I anticipate that he will play regular-season games at some point, but I don’t know when,” Carlisle said. The big man has been out since April 29.

Southwest Notes: Gay, Wood, Louzada, Burke

Spurs forward Rudy Gay has secured a $500K bonus after appearing in his 53rd game of the season on Wednesday night, reports Bobby Marks of ESPN (Twitter link).

Gay’s contract with the Spurs includes a $500K annual incentive if he plays in at least 60 games. However, that 60-game threshold applies to a typical 82-game season. Prorated across just 72 games this season, that worked out to 52.7, meaning Gay had to play in 53 games to earn his bonus.

Because Gay received the bonus last season as well, it was deemed “likely” entering this year and was already baked into his $14.5MM cap hit for 2020/21, Marks notes. As such, the Spurs won’t have to account for a higher cap charge than expected at season’s end.

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • Christian Wood, who signed a three-year, $41MM deal with the Rockets just five months ago, is out to prove that he’s deserving of an even bigger payday when that contract expires. “I just want to show fans that by the time this contract’s up I think I’m gonna be a max (contract) player,” Wood said this week, per Mark Berman of Fox 26 Houston (Twitter link).
  • While Didi Louzada‘s offensive game remains a work in progress, there’s optimism that he can be a positive contributor on the defensive end soon, writes Christian Clark of NOLA.com. The 22-year-old wing, a second-round pick in 2019, signed his first NBA contract with the Pelicans on Tuesday.
  • Mavericks guard Trey Burke, who signed a three-year contract last offseason, began the season as a regular contributor, but saw his role cut back starting in February, then fell out of the rotation when J.J. Redick arrived earlier this month. Over the last two games, he has once again been a factor, averaging nearly 30 minutes per game, as Callie Caplan of The Dallas Morning News details. “It could go from you being DNPs to you playing 15 to 20 minutes a night,” Burke said. “You just never know, always got to stay ready. For me, this year has been tough. It’s been something that I’ve kind of battled with myself.”

Pelicans Sign Didi Louzada To Multiyear Contract

The Pelicans have officially signed draft-and-stash prospect Didi Louzada to a multiyear contract, the team announced today in a press release.

A report earlier in the month indicated that the two sides were finalizing a deal, so this move was expected. Will Guillory of The Athletic said last week that Louzada’s first NBA contract is expected to be a two-year deal, though that’s not yet confirmed.

Louzada, who most recently played in Australia with the Sydney Kings, was the No. 35 pick in the 2019 NBA draft. The Brazilian guard averaged 8.8 points and 3.4 rebounds per game in 20 contests (24.1 MPG) with Sydney this season, shooting 39.1% from the field and 26.4% from behind the arc.

The Pelicans had been carrying 13 players on their 15-man roster since Isaiah Thomas‘ 10-day contract expired on April 13. Because teams are only permitted to dip below 14 players on standard deals for up to two weeks at a time, today was the deadline for New Orleans to re-add a 14th man. The club still has one open roster spot.

Southwest Notes: Bledsoe, Louzada, Porzingis, Jackson Jr.

Eric Bledsoe‘s season has gone from bad to worse, as Christian Clark of the New Orleans Times-Picayune details. Bledsoe admitted he “wasn’t paying attention” to Pelicans coach Stan Van Gundy when the team was instructed to intentionally foul while up by three points against the Knicks in the closing seconds last Sunday. That led to a game-tying 3-pointer. He was benched for a good portion of the second half against Brooklyn on Tuesday, then saw action in 22 minutes against Orlando on Thursday.

Attempts to unload Bledsoe’s contract could prove troublesome for New Orleans. He’ll make a guaranteed $18.1MM next season, though his $19.375MM salary for 2022/23 is only partially guaranteed.

We have more from the Southwest Division:

  • Didi Louzada‘s contract with the Pelicans is expected to be a two-year deal and he’ll sign it sometime next week, Will Guillory of The Athletic tweets. Louzada, a second-round pick in 2019, most recently played in Australia with the Sydney Kings. The news that the swingman was signing with New Orleans broke on Sunday. He averaged 8.8 PPG, 3.4 RPG and 24.1 MPG in 20 contests with Sydney this season, shooting 39% from the field and 26% from behind the arc.
  • Mavericks big man Kristaps Porzingis left Thursday’s game against the Lakers with a sprained left ankle but it’s not believed to be serious, according to ESPN’s Tim MacMahon. Porzingis, who was playing the second end of a back to back, rolled the ankle while pursuing a loose ball in the third quarter. He was walking in the locker room afterward.
  • Grizzlies big man Jaren Jackson Jr. made his long-awaited season debut on Wednesday and looked sharp. He had 15 points, eight rebounds and four blocks in 18 minutes during a 12-point loss to the Clippers. He was relieved to finally play after rehabbing from knee surgery, ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk writes. “This is a big win,” he said. “It’s been a long stretch for me.”

Southwest Notes: S. Brown, Mavs, Louzada, Eubanks

Rockets wing Sterling Brown was jumped outside of a club in Miami late on Sunday night, according to Shams Charania and Kelly Iko of The Athletic, who say Brown was hit in the head with a bottle and required medical attention into Monday. Brown, who was admitted to a local hospital early Monday morning, suffered facial lacerations in the incident and was discharged later in the day, per Charania and Iko. The 26-year-old didn’t know the assailants.

While Brown was ruled out of the Rockets’ game on Monday in Miami, that was the fifth straight game he has missed due to left knee soreness, unrelated to Sunday’s incident. It’s not clear whether the attack will push back his potential return date at all.

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • The Mavericks have fired director of player personnel Tony Ronzone, sources tell Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News. It’s unclear when the dismissal occurred, per Townsend. However, Ronzone was accused of sexual assault in 2019 and that allegation became public last year. According to ESPN’s Tim MacMahon, the Mavs fired Ronzone after learning new information related to that allegation.
  • While signing draft-and-stash prospect Didi Louzada to a rest-of-season contract will benefit the Pelicans from a cap perspective, allowing them to fill their 14th spot while remaining out of tax territory, John Hollinger of The Athletic questions whether the 2019 second-rounder is ready for the NBA. Louzada, 21, has struggled with his shot in Australia’s NBL and signing him now will make him a little more expensive in 2021/22, when New Orleans will likely be up against the tax line once again.
  • Several members of the Spurs‘ young core are thrilled to see big man Drew Eubanks thriving in an increased role lately, writes Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News. Eubanks has averaged 10.6 PPG and 9.2 RPG in just 19.8 MPG in his last five games, including his first career start on Saturday. “He’s out there killing it,” Keldon Johnson said after Eubanks put up 13 points and 13 rebounds in Saturday’s win. “I can’t be any happier for Drew. He works so hard.”

Pelicans Finalizing Multiyear Deal With Didi Louzada

The Pelicans are finalizing a multiyear agreement with draft-and-stash guard/forward Didi Louzada, according to a report from ESPN’s Olgun Uluc and Andrew Lopez.

Louzada, who most recently played in Australia with the Sydney Kings, was acquired by New Orleans with the No. 35 pick in the 2019 NBA draft. He averaged 8.8 points, 3.4 rebounds and 24.1 minutes in 20 contests with Sydney this season, shooting 39% from the field and 26% from behind the arc.

The 21-year-old Louzada stands at 6’5″ and can play the shooting guard and small forward positions. The Pelicans have until April 27 to sign another player after allowing Isaiah Thomas‘ 10-day contract expire on Monday, Uluc and Lopez note — teams are permitted to dip below the NBA’s required minimum of 14 players (not counting two-ways), but only for up to two weeks at a time.

The Pelicans haven’t touched their mid-level exception this year, so they’ll be able to use it to sign Louzada to a contract longer than two years. His cap hit for 2020/21 can be as low as the prorated rookie minimum, which is good news for a club looking to stay below the tax line.

New Orleans holds a 25-32 record, having put forth inconsistent defensive efforts this season. The club trails the No. 10 place Spurs by three games with roughly one month left in the season, losing a disappointing 122-112 game to New York on Sunday.

Southwest Notes: Louzada, Burke, Rockets, Crowder

The Sydney Kings of Australia’s NBL announced Wednesday that Pelicans’ 2019 second-round pick Didi Louzada will be returning for his second season (Twitter link). The Brazilian wing player had confirmed the news of him coming back to Sydney a couple of hours earlier (Twitter link).

Last season as a rookie, the 21-year-old Louzada averaged 11.4 PPG, 3.6 RPG, and 1.7 APG for Sydney. The NBL’s 2020-21 season is scheduled to begin in December and will wrap up in April.

Matt Logue of The Telegraph reported that Louzada can make his NBA debut at any time as the Pelicans own his draft rights. As things stand, there’s not a set date on when the 2020/21 NBA regular season will begin.

Here’s more from across the Southwest Division:

  • Before he joined the Mavericks in the bubble this summer, Trey Burke battled COVID-19, writes Callie Caplan of The Dallas News. The veteran guard discussed his trials and tribulations with the virus, including being quarantined for weeks in a Dallas hotel. “At this point, it was like 21, 22 days,” Burke said. “I was really concerned at that point because I was thinking my career was in jeopardy. I needed an opportunity before the bubble, and Dallas, a team I’m familiar with, calls me, and I can’t get to the bubble because of coronavirus.” The former first-round pick was eventually cleared to join Dallas in Orlando after his 25th day of quarantine.
  • With Mike D’Antoni not returning next season, the Rockets are beginning their search for a new head coach, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). Wojnarowski reported on Wednesday that Houston has received permission to interview Nuggets assistant coach Wes Unseld Jr. and Mavericks assistant coach Stephen Silas. Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle initially reported the Rockets’ interest in both assistant coaches, along with five other head coaching candidates.
  • At NBA Finals Media Day on Tuesday, Heat forward Jae Crowder spoke about his brief time with the Grizzlies this season, writes Mark Giannotto of Commercial Appeal. The veteran forward explained how he had to take on more of a leadership role for the young Grizzlies’ team. “Being in Memphis, I took on a different role. I took on a role I’d never taken on before in an NBA locker room,” he said. “And that’s just being a main leader, being a main vocal point, being the main guy who the young guys can lean on.” Crowder was acquired by Miami in a multi-player trade at February’s trade deadline.

Australia’s NBL Cancels Remaining Championship Games

Australia’s National Basketball League has announced in a press release that it has decided to cancel the remaining games of the Grand Final series between the Sydney Kings and Perth Wildcats. The NBL’s Grand Final series is the league’s equivalent of the NBA Finals.

The Wildcats had a 2-1 edge in the best-of-five championship series, with Game 4 scheduled to take place on Friday at RAC Arena in Perth. The league had initially planned on playing games that were closed to the public. However, Kings management indicated on Tuesday that it wasn’t comfortable with continuing the series at all, given the worldwide coronavirus outbreak that has resulted in nearly every other major basketball league shutting down.

“We respect the decision in what are extraordinary times for everyone,” NBL owner and executive chairman Larry Kestelman said in a statement. “We are understanding of not just the players’ health and well being but also their desire to be with their families, especially given so many of them have family overseas. Having consulted with the Australian Basketball Players’ Association we have decided the remaining games shall not be played.”

Although the NBL’s announcement stated that the series will be canceled, rather than postponed, the league has yet to say which team will be crowned the champion for the 2019/20 season. Kestelman suggested the NBL will weigh that decision over the next 48 hours.

“We acknowledge both teams for what has been a fantastic series and season,” he said. “Sydney was the only team to have gone through an entire NBL season on top of the ladder and Perth was leading the Grand Final series.”

Sydney’s roster features former No. 1 overall pick Andrew Bogut and Pelicans draft-and-stash prospect Didi Louzada, while former NBA big man Miles Plumlee plays for Perth. It’s possible that veterans like Bogut and Plumlee – and other NBL players – will be available to NBA teams if and when the 2019/20 season resumes, assuming they’re on expiring contracts in Australia.

Western Notes: McKinnie, Cauley-Stein, Silva, Grant

Willie Cauley-Stein will likely start at center for the Warriors but Kevon Looney will probably play more crunch-time minutes, Anthony Slater of The Athletic opines. Alfonzo McKinnie may get the nod at small forward with Alec Burks and Glenn Robinson III in reserve, since McKinnie is a high energy player who should mesh well with the backcourt of Stephen Curry and D’Angelo Russell, Slater continues. However, rookie Eric Paschall is a darkhorse candidate to play down the stretch due to his versatility, Slater adds.

We have from the Western Conference:

  • The Warriors preferred Cauley-Stein to DeMarcus Cousins even before Cousins committed to the Lakers, Slater writes in the same mailbag story. Cauley-Stein provided a younger option who better fit their new priorities, according to Slater. However, they never really had a decision to make because they were hard-capped after the sign-and-trade for Russell with the Nets was agreed upon. The hard cap meant the Warriors couldn’t give Cousins a max raise up to $6.4MM, Slater notes. Cauley-Stein agreed to join the Warriors on a two-year contract on July 2 and officially signed on July 8.
  • Pelicans draft-and-stash prospect Marcos Louzada Silva – aka Didi Louzada — has developed a solid perimeter jumper that should translate well to the NBA game, according to a Heavy.com story. The 6’5” guard can also attack the rim and has shown good strides in his development in recent months. Louzada, the 35th overall pick in June who was acquired in a draft-day deal, will play in Australia with the Sydney Kings during the upcoming season.
  • Jerami Grant should be an ideal frontcourt complement to Nuggets center Nikola Jokic, Nick Kosmider of The Athletic opines. Grant, projected as the top big off the bench, is a nimble perimeter defender who can guard ball-handlers. Grant, acquired from the Thunder for a protected first-round pick, is also a solid help defender who can block shots.
  • Jared Cunningham will work out for the Warriors on Tuesday, Marc Spears of ESPN tweets. Cunningham, a shooting guard who recently worked out for the Rockets, hasn’t appeared in an NBA game since the 2015/16 season.