Didi Louzada

Southwest Notes: Pelicans, Louzada, Rockets, Porzingis

Pelicans 2019 draft selections Nickeil Alexander-Walker and Jaxson Hayes have disappointed during their NBA tenures thus far, opines Christian Clark of NOLA.com. Clark argues that reduced roles for Alexander-Walker and Hayes have been a factor in the team’s 11-10 record across its last 21 contests. Alexander-Walker is no longer starting for New Orleans, and Hayes is effectively out of the team’s rotation.

Clark writes that 6’6″ shooting guard Alexander-Walker, drafted with the No. 17 pick out of Virginia Tech, struggles to make the proper choices with the ball, while consistent motivation appears to be an issue for 6’11” center Hayes, the eighth pick out of Texas. The Pelicans could theoretically offer both players contract extensions during the summer of 2022, but that appears unlikely given their play.

There’s more from around the Southwest Division:

  • Pelicans small forward Didi Louzada has officially been available to play since earlier this week for New Orleans after returning from a 25-game suspension, per Andrew Lopez of ESPN (Twitter link). Louzada was suspended in November for violating the NBA anti-drug policy. Louzada has yet to play since being reactivated.
  • The rebuilding Rockets offer plenty of promise, but have yet to string together much consistency on the court and have a 12-32 record so far. Kelly Iko and Sam Vecenie of The Athletic take stock of the team’s player development this season. Young point guard Kevin Porter Jr. has struggled to mesh with rookie shooting guard Jalen Green, as both Vecenie considers both to be score-first players. The floor spacing provided by shooting guards Garrison Mathews and Armoni Brooks helped the team during an injury absence for Green.
  • The solid return of Mavericks big man Kristaps Porzingis from a stint in the COVID-19 protocols should encourage Dallas fans, writes Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News. The big man notched 19 points and seven boards during a 108-92 Dallas victory over the Magic on Saturday night. “I didn’t want to force anything too much,” Porzingis said of his return to game action. “First game back, lungs are going to feel it a little bit.”

Pelicans Sign Gary Clark To Non-Guaranteed Deal

December 3: The Pelicans have officially signed Clark, the team announced in a press release.

December 2: The Pelicans are signing forward Gary Clark to a non-guaranteed contract, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

New Orleans has a full 15-man roster, but will be able to move Didi Louzada to the suspended list now that he has served more than five games of his 25-game ban for violating the league’s anti-drug policy, as Christian Clark of NOLA.com confirms (via Twitter). When Louzada’s suspension ends, the Pelicans will have to get back down to 15 players by trading or waiving Clark or another player.

Clark, 27, has appeared in a total of 132 NBA regular season games since making his debut in 2018. Last season, he averaged 3.1 PPG and 2.9 RPG in 39 games (16.8 MPG) for the Magic, Nuggets, and Sixers. He’s known more for his defense, having put up very modest offensive numbers (3.2 PPG on .346/.311/.889 shooting) in his NBA career.

Clark had been playing for the Mexico City Capitanes in the G League this season, where he was averaging 14.4 PPG and 6.9 RPG with 1.5 SPG through eight games (31.3 MPG). While it’s a small sample, he has been letting it fly from beyond the three-point line in the NBA G League and has made 37.3% of 7.4 attempts per game so far.

Clark’s minimum-salary contract will pay him just over $9,900 per day.

Pelicans’ Didi Louzada Suspended 25 Games For Drug Violation

The NBA has suspended Pelicans wing Didi Louzada for 25 games without pay for violating the league’s anti-drug policy, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

According to Wojnarowski, Louzada tested positive for Drostanolone and Testosterone. Both are listed in the NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement in the section on banned steroids and performance-enhancing drugs.

The NBA has officially confirmed the news, announcing in a press release that Louzada’s 25-game ban will begin on Friday. He’ll be eligible to return to action on January 11 vs. Minnesota.

Louzada, a 22-year-old from Brazil, was the 35th overall pick in the 2019 draft. After spending his first two seasons in Australia, he signed with New Orleans in late April. The Pelicans turned down their team option on him this summer in order to sign him to a new four-year contract that includes two fully guaranteed seasons. He has logged just seven minutes in two games this season after appearing in three contests as an NBA rookie in the spring.

Louzada issued a statement to ESPN in an effort to explain his drug violation, as Wojnarowski relays.

“When I was in Brazil during the offseason, I consulted a nutritionist who recommended I take some vitamins and supplements,” Louzada said. “Because she has a history of working with professional athletes, I would never have imagined that any of those substances would be banned or could be contaminated. Once I learned of the positive test, I immediately cooperated completely with the league and union to help all of us understand what exactly occurred.

“I would never knowingly take anything that violates NBA rules. I accept my responsibility in this situation. I deeply regret that this happened and I apologize to my team, my teammates, and Pelicans fans for this mistake.”

Pelicans president of basketball operations David Griffin also put out a statement from the team:

“On behalf of the New Orleans Pelicans organization, we were disappointed to learn that Didi Louzada violated the NBA/NBPA Anti-Drug Program. After speaking with Didi, we are confident that he understands the full gravity of the situation and regrets the decisions that led to the suspension. We fully support Didi on and off the court as he learns and grows from this experience.”

The suspension will cost Louzada $406,109 of his $1,786,878 salary for the 2021/22 season, tweets ESPN’s Bobby Marks. He loses 1/110th of his salary for each game of the 25-game suspension.

As Marks observes, the Pelicans will have the ability to move Louzada to the suspended list after the first five games of his ban, opening up a spot on the 15-man roster to add a free agent. Once Louzada is eligible to return, the club would have to trade or waive that newly-signed free agent (or someone else) to be in accordance with roster-limit rules.

Southwest Notes: Lowry, Louzada, Barea, Omoruyi

The Mavericks were runners-up to the Heat in the free agency competition for Kyle Lowry, according to Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. A source tells Jackson that the Mavs were willing to pay what Lowry was seeking and he was intrigued by the possibility of playing in Dallas, but his first choice was to join Jimmy Butler in Miami. Lowry wound up getting $85MM over three years, and joined the Heat in a sign-and-trade.

The Pelicans were also interested in Lowry and were willing to offer $90MM or more for three seasons, Jackson adds. However, Jackson’s source says Lowry didn’t give strong consideration to New Orleans.

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • The new four-year deal for Pelicans swingman Didi Louzada is valued at about $7.69MM, tweets Andrew Lopez of ESPN. The first two seasons are fully guaranteed and the final two are non-guaranteed. New Orleans held non-Bird rights on Louzada and his contract starts at 120% of the $1.489MM minimum, tweets Bobby Marks of ESPN. Marks notes that the Pelicans still have their entire $9.5MM mid-level exception available, along with a $17.1MM trade exception.
  • Longtime Mavericks player J.J. Barea will return to the organization in some capacity, according to Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News (Twitter link). The exact role hasn’t been finalized for Barea, who spent 11 of his 14 NBA seasons with the Mavs. “I’m going to be involved, and I’m definitely excited,” said Barea, who served as an unofficial assistant coach in today’s Summer League game.
  • Rookie forward Eugene Omoruyi talked to Townsend after signing a two-way contract with the Mavericks on Friday (video link).

Pelicans Sign Didi Louzada To Four-Year Contract

AUGUST 13: The Pelicans have officially re-signed Louzada, per NBA.com’s transactions log.

AUGUST 3: The Pelicans have agreed to a new four-year contract with swingman Didi Louzada, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

New Orleans had been hoping to keep Louzada after declining his $1.5MM team option for 2021-22 last weekend. By declining the option and re-signing him on a new deal, the team now has the ability to keep him for years to come.

Louzada, 22, was the No. 35 pick in 2019. He signed with New Orleans toward the end of last season after spending two years overseas, appearing in three games.

The Pelicans finished the 2020/21 season with a 31-41 record — the 11th best in the Western Conference. The franchise parted ways with head coach Stan Van Gundy at the end of the campaign, hiring former NBA guard Willie Green in his place.

Pelicans Decline Team Option On Didi Louzada

The Pelicans have turned down their $1,517,981 team option on Didi Louzada, tweets Andrew Lopez of ESPN. However, the rookie small forward still may have a future in New Orleans.

Sources tell Lopez that the Pelicans extended a qualifying offer to Louzada and hope to reach a long-term agreement in free agency.

Louzada, 22, signed with New Orleans in late April and appeared in three games before the season ended, averaging 2.7 PPG in 18.7 minutes per night. The Brazilian native was drafted by the Hawks with the 35th pick in 2019 and traded to the Pacers, but didn’t have any NBA experience until he joined the Pelicans.

Louzada, who is also known as Marcos Louzada Silva, spent the past two seasons with the Sydney Kings in Australia’s National Basketball League.

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.