E'Twaun Moore

Pelicans Still In Need Of A Wing Player?

A bigger issue with the Pelicans this upcoming season may be the absence of a reliable player on the wing rather than the loss of Rajon Rondo or DeMarcus Cousins, as newcomers Julius Randle and Elfrid Payton are capable of replicating their production, at least in part, writes Scott Kushner of The Advocate.

Kushner opines that nobody on the Pelicans’ roster is capable of being a solid “3-and-D” player, as Solomon Hill has struggled to recover from a torn hamstring and E’Twaun Moore, limited by his 6’4” frame, has been asked to play against players much taller than him and seemingly taken out of his comfort zone as a result.

“If it was up to me — it doesn’t really matter as long as I stay on the floor and help my team win — but I would like to say that maybe I hopefully could be playing a little bit more guard (this season),” Moore said. “Last year, I was more of a wing, but it worked out well for the team because we played so fast. But it would be kind of cool to be going back to being a guard again.”

So, the Pelicans will now hold a three-man competition between Troy Williams, Garlon Green, and Kenrich Williams in order to find someone who may be able to crack the team’s wing rotation this season.

The Pelicans could also be active around midseason, as they were when they acquired Cousins in 2017 and Nikola Mirotic last season. But for now, they’ll rely on MVP-candidate Anthony Davis, Jrue Holiday, Randle and Mirotic, which should be enough to keep them in the Western Conference playoff race.

Southwest Notes: Rockets, Moore, Bickerstaff

A number of Rockets players have seen new opportunities arise following James Harden‘s hamstring injury, among them journeyman Briante Weber and Houston native Gerald Green, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle writes.

The Rockets have opted to slot supersub combo guard Eric Gordon in as the starting two beside Chris Paul, allowing Weber to fill the role of primary backup point guard. Green, similarly, has seen an opening as the team’s backup shooting guard.

Green, a 31-year-old, 11-year veteran, signed with the Rockets in late December while Weber, a two-way signee, has spent the majority of the campaign with Houston’s G League affiliate in Rio Grande Valley.

Including the 27 points he dropped off the bench on Wednesday, Green is averaging 13.8 points per game for the Rockets while Weber has seen his role with the big league club grow considerably since December 22.

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • The Pelicans can attribute much of their success this season to the hot hand of seven-year veteran E’Twaun Moore, John Coon of the New Orleans Advocate writes. “He’s a good shooter and he’s had more opportunities than he normally would have during a season,” head coach Alvin Gentry said. “We’ve got two really good big guys in there and they create double-team situations and they’re very unselfish players, so they’re willing passers.
  • While interim Grizzlies head coach J.B. Bickerstaff has embraced some of the team’s young players, the results on the court aren’t all that different than what previous coach David Fizdale was producing. Ronald Tillery of the Memphis Commercial Appeal writes that the new bench boss remains committed to the team’s process.
  • New Rockets owner Tilman Feritta isn’t phased by the team’s recent slide, Sam Amick of USA Today writes. “I’m not worried about [the struggles]“, Fertitta said. “It’s a five-game stretch. Hopefully we have all of our downs now and we have all of our ups later. It’s amazing what injuries have to do with these teams winning and losing, too.”

Southwest Notes: Moore, Aldridge, Pensacola

The absence of Rajon Rondo during the first month or so of the regular season will open up more of an opportunity for Pelicans combo guard E’Twaun Moore, William Guillory of The Times-Picayune writes.

Moore, who head coach Alvin Gentry says will probably start the club’s October 18 season opener, averaged a career-best 9.6 points per game for the Pelicans last season.

Back at full health after a 2016/17 campaign in which he nursed turf toe, Moore will look to validate the Pelicans’ decision to ink him to a four-year, $34MM contract last summer.

In limited time with the Pelicans’ starting core, Guillory writes, the group posted an impressive plus-16.4 net rating.

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • Heading into his third year with the Spurs, big man LaMarcus Aldridge is embracing a larger leadership role, Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News writes. “I’m not the rah-rah guy,” Aldridge said. “I think people know that about me from my Portland days. But just trying to make sure guys are in the right spot, trying to teach guys how to play defense and know the principles and help guys stay positive and things like that.
  • The wheels are in motion for the Pelicans to land a G League team, now they’re searching for a city to host the franchise. The current favorite, Chris Reichert of 2 Ways, 10 Days writes, is Pensacola.
  • The Grizzlies will welcome Tony Allen back to the FedExForum this week and both general manager Chris Wallace and owner Robert Pera have released statements about his time with the franchise. In a post on the team’s official site, Pera goes so far as to say that the Grindfather’s jersey will one day hang in the rafters.

Pelicans, Pistons Discussing Reggie Jackson Trade

The Pistons and Pelicans have discussed a trade that would send Reggie Jackson to New Orleans, according to Michael Scotto of Basketball Insiders. Scotto adds that New Orleans could ship out E’Twaun Moore, Alexis Ajinca, and/or Quincy Pondexter in exchange for Jackson’s services.

Jackson, 27, still has three years and $51MM left on his deal and has been on the trade block since last season’s trade deadline. The Pelicans, who re-signed Jrue Holiday to a five-year, $126MM pact, feel that a Holiday/Jackson backcourt would be successful, per Scotto.

Jackson averaged 14.5 PPG, 5.2 APG, and 2.2 RPG in just over 27 minutes per game for the Pistons last season. However, a knee injury held him to 52 games, his lowest total since his rookie year with the Thunder.

Detroit is in a transitional phase, therefore no roster spot is safe. Aron Baynes has departed for the Celtics and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is set to sign elsewhere in free agency. While the team has acquired Anthony Tolliver, Reggie Bullock, Avery Bradley, and Langston Galloway, it’s clear that the team is focused on shorter commitments and smaller salaries.

In a possible trade, both Moore (three years, $25.9MM) and Ajinca (two years, $10.3MM) have multiple years remaining on their deals; both players provided solid contributions off the bench for New Orleans last season. Pondexter has missed the last two seasons with left knee surgery and has a $3.9MM salary for 2017/18.

Pelicans Notes: Asik, Ajinca, Backcourt, Evans

Centers Omer Asik and Alexis Ajinca have dropped completely out of the Pelicans rotation as the team has found success with small-ball lineups, Justin Verrier of ESPN.com reports. Asik and Ajinca have been glued to the bench the last three games while the club has reeled off four consecutive victories. Forwards Dante Cunningham and  Solomon Hill are the biggest beneficiaries of coach Alvin Gentry’s altered rotation, and their increased minutes have allowed the Pelicans to switch defensively much more easily, Verrier continues. New Orleans has the league’s 12th ­best offensive rating and fourth-best defensive rating since the shakeup earlier this week, Verrier adds. Franchise player Anthony Davis is thrilled with the new look, as he told Verrier. “When we play small it gives us an advantage on both ends of the floor.” he said.

In other developments regarding the Pelicans:

  • Gentry is enjoying the pleasant dilemma of having too many options at the guard spots, Jim Eichenhofer of Pelicans.com writes. Gentry prefers not to have more than four backcourt players in the rotation, Eichenhofer notes. Jrue Holiday and rookie Buddy Hield are the current starters, leaving Gentry to choose from the quartet of Langston Galloway, E’Twaun Moore, Tyreke Evans and Tim Frazier for the remaining minutes. “It’s good to have the depth and have an opportunity that if things aren’t going real well, to stick another guy in and see if he has it for that night,” Gentry told Eichenhofer.
  • Evans, who can also play small forward, will see an uptick in minutes soon, according to John Reid of the New Orleans Times Picayune. Evans had been on a 15-minute per game restriction since returning from knee surgery and is still not cleared to play both games of back-to-backs, Reid continues. Gentry told Reid and other media members that his minutes would increase to 18 or 20 per game on a regular basis. Evans played 18 minutes against the Knicks on Friday. “I don’t think he’s going to go from 15 to 30,” Gentry said. “I think there’s a possibility that he could play 18 minutes or 20 minutes, that’s the natural progression that’s going to happen.”

Pelicans Rumors: Davis, Moore, Holiday, Benson

The lack of talent surrounding Pelicans power forward Anthony Davis is the biggest reason why his ability to make teammates better has been slow to develop, Kevin Ding of the Bleacher Report opines. Davis has not enjoyed the luxury of playing with another All-Star caliber player, which has led to his poor assist-to-turnover ratio, Ding continues while noting he’s only finished one season with a positive ratio. Davis’ usage rate, and the percentage of assists he’s had on those possessions, are comparable to low-post players like Brook Lopez and Zach Randolph, Ding points out, rather than a versatile superstar. Coach Alvin Gentry has also failed to develop an offensive support system to facilitate Davis’ growth, Ding adds.

In other news regarding the Pelicans:

  • Shooting guard E’Twaun Moore is grateful to have some job security after playing for three other organizations during his first five years in the league, Cody Taylor of Basketball Insiders writes. Moore, who left the Bulls and signed a four-year, $34MM contract as a free agent over the summer, is averaging a career-high 12.6 points. “It’s tough to stick around in this league; it’s not easy,” Moore told Taylor.
  • Guard Jrue Holiday believes his experience will help the club in late-game situations, according to an Associated Press story. Holiday will make his season debut on Friday after caring for his ailing wife Lauren. “Down the stretch, I do think I could help with some directing and just tightening it up,” Holiday said. Gentry said at he might pair Holiday at times with Tim Frazier, who has started at the point in his absence. “Jrue can play off the ball or on the ball,” Gentry told the AP. “That’s what makes him so good. I think he’s a versatile player. We need his shooting also.”
  • A lawsuit regarding the ownership of the team is close to being resolved, Greg LaRose of the Times-Picayune relays. The parties have asked Judge Jane Triche Milazzo for more time to complete settlement talks. The dispute surfaced when Pelicans owner Tom Benson sought to remove ownership shares of the teams from the inheritance of his daughter, Renee Benson, and his grandchildren. He wants to give control of the franchise to his wife, Gayle.

And-Ones: Dragic, Pelicans, Salary Cap, Brown

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra told point guard Goran Dragic during a morning shootaround Thursday that rumors regarding a potential trade to the Kings were untrue, Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports. Miami was reportedly discussing a deal in which Dragic would head to Sacramento in exchange for forward Rudy Gay and guard Darren Collison. “Spo came over and did that today,” Dragic told Winderman. “He just said those rumors, they’re not true.” Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald confirms that the Heat are not pursuing such a trade at the moment but might go after Gay in free agency next summer as a secondary option (Twitter link).
In other developments around the league:
  • E’Twaun Moore will start for the Pelicans at shooting guard entering the season ahead of lottery pick Buddy Hield, John Reid of the New Orleans Times-Picayune tweets. Moore was one of the first unrestricted free agents to make a commitment in July, agreeing to a four-year, $34MM contract after playing a backup role with the Bulls.
  • The projected salary cap for the 2017/18 season has been slightly raised from $102MM to $103MM, sources told Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com (Twitter link). That will give teams a little bit more elbow room as they make roster decisions.
  • Shannon Brown has signed with the NBA D-League and will be eligible for its draft, Chris Reichert of Upside & Motor tweets. The 30-year-old guard last appeared in the NBA in 2014/15, when he played five games for the Heat.
  • Swingman Jordan Hamilton has left the Turkish team Tofas Bursa after just one game, Emiliano Carchia of Sportando relays. Hamilton appeared in 11 games with the Pelicans last season. A former first-round pick, Hamilton spent his first few NBA seasons with the Nuggets, but has bounced around since 2014, spending time with the Rockets and Clippers as well as the Pelicans.

Anthony Davis Sprains Ankle, Out 10-15 Days

A handful of players left today’s Pelicans/Rockets game in China with what appeared to be minor injuries. Of those players, none were being watched more closely than Anthony Davis, who has never played in more than 68 regular-season games in any of his four NBA seasons. According to Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated (via Twitter), the Pelicans big man suffered a Grade 2 ankle sprain, and is expected to out for 10 to 15 days.

While Davis’ latest injury is unfortunate news for both him and the Pelicans, there’s still a chance that the three-time All-Star could be ready for the club’s regular-season opener, which takes place two weeks from today. The ankle sprain almost certainly ensures that Davis won’t play in any of New Orleans’ remaining preseason games, however.

A left knee injury and a torn labrum in his left shoulder brought Davis’ 2015/16 campaign to a premature end this past spring, and he has dealt with ankle injuries in the past as well. The Pelicans certainly won’t be in any rush to get their former No. 1 pick back on the court — if he misses a couple regular-season games while returning to health, that would be preferable to risking re-injury. Still, Spears notes that Davis was “walking around fine” after leaving today’s game.

During today’s contest, Pelicans guard E’Twaun Moore and Rockets guard Pablo Prigioni also left with injuries. Moore suffered a heel contusion, which eventually forced him out of action, as Scott Kushner of The Advocate writes. As for Prigioni, he suffered a left shoulder strain, per Fran Blinebury of NBA.com (Twitter link). Neither injury appeared to be major, though we’ll have to wait for the two teams to confirm that.

Southwest Notes: Moore, Dawson, Harden, Mavs

E’Twaun Moore, who was one of the first players to commit when free agency began July 1st, chose the Pelicans because he wanted a team where he could make a difference, relays Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders. After being with three teams in his first five seasons, the combo guard now has the security of a four-year, $34MM contract with New Orleans. “I definitely wanted to play more minutes and make an impact, helping my team win,” Moore said. “And they’re a team that is, of course, going in a positive direction. They’re a team that’s trying to win. They have a good group of guys; they made the playoffs two years ago and I think they would have made it last year if it weren’t for all the injuries. I think we can get back into playoff contention and that’s another reason I signed.” Moore has a chance to compete for a starting job in the Pelicans’ backcourt with Eric Gordon gone to Houston.

There’s more tonight from the Southwest Division:

  • Shawn Dawson understands the odds as he competes for a roster spot with the Pelicans, tweets Brett Dawson of The New Orleans Advocate. The Israeli swingman accepted a camp invitation from New Orleans earlier this month. “They explained the whole situation,” he said. “I know that it’s a tough situation to get a contract when there’s 15 guaranteed already, but things happen. I believe in myself and I feel they like me. I know that they like me.”
  • After signing a $118MM extension with the Rockets this summer, James Harden has organized a players-only minicamp for next week, according to Mark Berman of Fox 26 Houston. It’s the second year for the camp, and teammate Corey Brewer said it’s a sign that Harden has accepted the role of team leader. “He’s the franchise player,” Brewer said. “He signed the extension. So it’s his team, and he’s doing all the right things to do what we need to do to have a chance to win championships.”
  • The Mavericks concentrated on youth during the offseason, notes The Vertical’s Bobby Marks. After age seemed to be a problem in the playoff loss to the Thunder, Dallas brought in Harrison Barnes [24], Seth Curry [25], Quincy Acy [25] and A.J. Hammons [23] to join Dwight Powell [25] and Justin Anderson [22].

Contract Details: Rondo, Boban, J. Hill, S. Hill

There were conflicting reports on the details of the second year of Rajon Rondo‘s new contract with the Bulls when it was agreed upon and signed earlier this month, but Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders provides some clarity, writing that only $3MM of Rondo’s $13.397MM second-year salary is guaranteed. That second year essentially functions as a team option for the Bulls, who could waive Rondo by June 30 next year if his first year in Chicago goes south.

Here are several more contract and salary cap details from Pincus:

  • As part of the sign-and-trade deal that landed Matthew Dellavedova in Milwaukee, the Cavaliers sent $200K to the Bucks, per Pincus. The move allowed Cleveland to create a trade exception to absorb Mike Dunleavy‘s salary.
  • The Pistons‘ offer sheet for Boban Marjanovic was an Arenas-rule offer, with a modest spike in year three, according to Pincus. The Spurs didn’t have Marjanovic’s Early Bird rights or enough cap space to match, so Detroit got its man and was able to smooth out his cap hit to $7MM annually, as the Arenas rule permits.
  • The second year of Jordan Hill‘s two-year, $8.18MM deal with the Timberwolves is non-guaranteed, tweets Pincus.
  • Solomon Hill‘s four-year, $48MM pact with the Pelicans, which starts at $12.2MM, features $3.9MM in total unlikely incentives, according to Pincus (via Twitter). Meanwhile, the first-year cap hit on E’Twaun Moore‘s four-year, $34MM deal with New Orleans is $8.08MM (Twitter link).