Herb Jones

Pelicans Notes: Hayes, Alexander-Walker, Valanciunas, Rotation Battles

Pelicans coach Willie Green seems to envision an expanded role for third-year center Jaxson Hayes.

I think Jaxson is going to be huge for us this season,” Green said, according to Christian Clark of NOLA.com.

Hayes has been in and out of the Pelicans’ rotation the past two seasons, showcasing rare athleticism for a big man, but questionable decision making. Clark notes that Hayes added muscle over the offseason, bulking up to 235 pounds from his listed weight of 220 last season. He’s also been working on his jump shot, and Clark says teammate Nickeil Alexander-Walker has taken notice.

It’s amazing how fast he is and how fast he gets up and down the floor,” Alexander-Walker said of Hayes. “Athletic. Shooting the ball really well. Added that to his game.

Clark adds that in an effort to put his legal troubles behind him, Hayes has been spending more time with family. His father, Jonathan, an ex-NFL player and coach, has temporarily moved in with Jaxson to provide stability and guidance.

Here’s more on the Pelicans:

  • Alexander-Walker has matured his game in multiple ways this offseason, writes William Guillory of The Athletic in an excellent interview feature. Alexander-Walker says he’s changed his mental approach to cope with the ups and downs of life in the NBA: “You have to take everything and break it down. You’ve got to take it day-by-day. I got in trouble when I was trying to fast-forward my way through the process. It’s easy to get caught in that tornado, and you don’t know where it’s going to take you. But I had to learn about staying in the moment. Not getting caught up in anything that’s not about where are we right now. Beating yourself up over a bad shooting night isn’t how you get better. It’s about staying consistent in your process regardless of what comes at you.
  • Likely starting center Jonas Valanciunas has looked engaged thus far in the preseason, Clark writes in another piece. Clark notes the Pelicans lacked a mean streak and veteran leadership last season, and believes Valanciunas could help fill that void.
  • Guillory explored the team’s depth chart battles in another recent article. He believes that a supersized starting lineup of Alexander-Walker, Trey Murphy, Brandon Ingram, Zion Williamson, and Valanciunas could be the team’s best bet for a combination of offense and defense, but thinks that offseason addition Devonte’ Graham will ultimately start alongside Alexander-Walker. He also thinks that Kira Lewis should have the upper hand over Tomas Satoransky for backup point guard duty, although admits that it could change from game to game. Hayes suffered a sprained ankle on Monday, according to Guillory, who believes that if Hayes is unavailable for the regular season opener, rookie Herb Jones will act as backup center due to his strong defensive play.

Pelicans Notes: Hart, Offseason Moves, Murphy, Summer League

Josh Hart‘s new three-year deal with the Pelicans includes some unique terms, according to ESPN’s Will Guillory and Bobby Marks (Twitter links). In an Instagram video, Marks provides a more in-depth breakdown of the agreement.

After earning a guaranteed $12MM salary in year one, Hart will have a $12.96MM non-guaranteed salary in year two, says Guillory. If the Pelicans want to avoid paying Hart that salary, they’ll have to waive him by June 25, meaning he’d get a head-start on finding a new team in free agency.

If Hart plays out the first two years of his deal, his $12.96MM salary for 2023/24 would be non-guaranteed as well, but he also has a player option for that third year. It would essentially be a mutual option for Hart and the Pelicans. He’d have until June 24 to decide whether to exercise or decline his player option, then – if he opts in – New Orleans would have until June 25 to decide whether to guarantee his salary.

Here’s more on the Pelicans:

  • Scouts and executives polled by Tim Bontemps of ESPN were critical of the Pelicans’ offseason, questioning the team’s decision to replace Lonzo Ball with Devonte’ Graham. “They’re a sinking ship and reaching for a life preserver that just isn’t going to help,” one Western Conference executive said. “I don’t understand how (Jonas Valanciunas) is going to fit. I don’t understand how Devonte’ is worth what they paid. It’s just weird.”
  • Sam Vecenie of The Athletic loved what he saw from the Pelicans and Trey Murphy at Las Vegas Summer League, noting that he talked to two separate scouts who thought Murphy was the best rookie in Vegas. Vecenie referred to New Orleans’ Summer League team as “juggernaut” on the defensive end, singling out Murphy, Naji Marshall, Herb Jones, and Kira Lewis for their performances.
  • Murphy was one of seven players named to the All-Summer League First Team, per the NBA, as he joined co-MVPs Davion Mitchell and Cameron Thomas, among others.

Pelicans Notes: Hernangomez, Jones, Murphy, Marshall, Green

Willy Hernangomez‘s new three-year contract with the Pelicans will be fully guaranteed for the first two years with a team option for year three, according to Andrew Lopez of ESPN (Twitter link).

Lopez also provides the year-by-year breakdown of Hernangomez’s new deal. The Pelicans held the big man’s Non-Bird rights, giving them the ability to offer a starting salary worth 120% of his $1,939,350 minimum salary. That means Hernangomez will earn $2,327,220 in 2021/22, with 5% annual raises on that amount. The three-year contract will be worth about $7.33MM in total.

Here’s more on the Pelicans:

  • Herb Jones‘ three-year contract with the Pelicans will be worth more than the minimum for the first two seasons, according to Lopez, who tweets that the No. 35 pick will earn $1.7MM in 2021/22 and $1.785MM in ’22/23. Both of those amounts will be fully guaranteed, followed by a minimum-salary ($1.836MM) team option in ’23/24. New Orleans is using a small part of its mid-level exception on Jones.
  • William Guillory of The Athletic checks in on the Pelicans who have turned heads at the Las Vegas Summer League, writing that Trey Murphy and Naji Marshall look capable of emerging as regular rotation players on the wing. New head coach Willie Green has also done a good job emphasizing ball movement and defensive activity, according to Guillory, who says those are two areas the team needs to improve in 2021/22.
  • After reaching a deal with restricted free agent Josh Hart, the Pelicans look like they’ll be just about finished with their offseason business, writes Christian Clark of NOLA.com. The team will have 15 players on guaranteed contracts and will have to rely heavily on internal growth from its young players in order to compete for a playoff spot in 2021/22.

Pelicans Sign Herb Jones To Three-Year Deal

3:34pm: Jones’ deal with the Pelicans is now official, the team announced in a press release.


1:17pm: The Pelicans have reached an agreement to sign second-round pick Herb Jones to a three-year contract, according to Will Guillory of The Athletic (Twitter link). The third year of the deal will be a team option, Guillory reports.

Jones, 22, is a 6’8″ forward who spent all four years of his college career at Alabama. As a senior in 2020/21, he averaged 11.2 PPG, 6.6 RPG, and 3.3 APG on .446/.351/.713 shooting in 33 games (27.3 MPG). The No. 35 overall pick, who also contributed 1.7 SPG and 1.1 BPG, was named the SEC Player of the Year and SEC Defensive Player of the Year.

While the exact terms of Jones’ new deal aren’t yet known, two guaranteed years has been the standard for players drafted in his range. The Pelicans will use a small portion of their mid-level exception to complete the signing, so they could go a little higher than the rookie minimum if they so choose.

Once New Orleans officially signs Jones and free agent big man Willy Hernangomez, the team will have 15 players on standard contracts, with Josh Hart still a restricted free agent. If Hart were to re-sign with the Pels, Wenyen Gabriel (who is on a non-guaranteed deal) would likely be the odd man out.

Northwest Notes: Jazz, Grimes, OKC, Moody, Wolves, Nuggets

The Jazz are hosting a pre-draft workout on Thursday that will includes Houston’s Quentin Grimes, Providence’s David Duke, and San Diego State’s Matt Mitchell, sources tell Tony Jones of The Athletic.

Jones categorizes it as an important session for the Jazz, who like Grimes as a potential target at No. 30 and want to get a closer look at Mitchell, who has worked out for more than 10 teams and is considered a draft riser.

Sources tell Jones that other prospects the Jazz are eyeing as possibilities at No. 30 include Nah’Shon Hyland, Ayo Dosunmu, Miles McBride, Herb Jones, Joel Ayayi from Gonzaga, Joshua Primo, and Jared Butler.

  • Arkansas wing Moses Moody visited the Thunder in Oklahoma City earlier this week, as Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee tweets. Moody is the 16th-ranked prospect on ESPN’s big board, so he could play be in play for OKC at No. 16 or 18 next Thursday.
  • Now that Alex Rodriguez and Marc Lore have formally been approved as minority stakeholders in the Timberwolves, Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic examines the challenges facing A-Rod and Lore, who will assume majority control of the franchise by 2023. As Krawczynski observes, there are similarities between the Wolves’ current situation and the one that Marc Lasry, Wes Edens and Jamie Dinan inherited in 2014 when they bought the Bucks, though it’s probably unrealistic to expect the next seven years in Minnesota to play out like the last seven in Milwaukee.
  • The Nuggets put forth a “full, all-hands-on-deck organizational effort” to ensure longtime assistant Wes Unseld Jr. got a head coaching job, Denver’s president of basketball operations Tim Connelly told Fred Katz of The Athletic. Connelly said he informed the Wizards that Unseld “is one of the brightest minds I’ve ever been around.”
  • South Carolina wing A.J. Lawson worked out today for the Nuggets, according to Adam Zagoria of Forbes (Twitter link).

Southeast Notes: Magic, Kuminga, Unseld, Oladipo, Hawks

Projected top-eight pick Jonathan Kuminga worked out for the Magic on Tuesday, writes Josh Cohen of OrlandoMagic.com. Kuminga has also worked out for the Cavaliers, Raptors and Thunder, and has an upcoming workout with the Warriors.

According to Chris Hays of The Orlando Sentinel, Kuminga said that the workout with Orlando went well and that his shooting is better than he showed during his time with the G League Ignite.

I’m not for sure if I’m a top-five pick, but I’m not worried about that,” Kuminga said. “That’s just the rankings. We don’t know where I might end up, so I don’t really be concerned about draft picks.”

We have more from around the Southeast Division:

Full List Of 2021 NBA Draft Combine Participants

The NBA has revealed via press release its list of 69 players who have been invited to next week’s draft combine in Chicago and who are expected to attend. The combine will take place from June 21-17.

While several of the prominent names at the top of the draft will opt to skip the event – most notably, presumed number one pick Cade Cunningham and Gonzaga’s Jalen Suggs – there are several high-profile prospects set to attend. Evan Mobley, widely considered a likely choice for the No. 2 pick as well as potential top-five picks Jonathan Kuminga and Jalen Green headline the class of participants this year, along with potential lottery picks Moses Moody, Corey Kispert and Scottie Barnes.

According to the press release, players will conduct interviews with NBA teams, participate in five-on-five games, and go through shooting, strength and agility drills throughout the week-long event. It’s likely that the more high-profile names will focus more on the interviews than the drills.

The press release also confirms that a select number of standout players from the G League Elite Camp will be invited to participate in the Combine as well.

Here’s the full list of 69 names announced by the NBA today, in alphabetical order:

  1. Max Abmas, G, Oral Roberts (sophomore)
  2. Ochai Agbaji, G, Kansas (junior)
  3. Marcus Bagley, F, Arizona State (freshman)
  4. Scottie Barnes, F, Florida State (freshman)
  5. Charles Bassey, C, Western Kentucky (junior)
  6. Brandon Boston Jr., G/F, Kentucky (freshman)
  7. James Bouknight, G, UConn (sophomore)
  8. Greg Brown, F, Texas (freshman)
  9. Jared Butler, G, Baylor (junior)
  10. Julian Champagnie, G/F, St. John’s (sophomore)
  11. Justin Champagnie, G/F, Pittsburgh (sophomore)
  12. Josh Christopher, G, Arizona State (freshman)
  13. Sharife Cooper, G, Auburn (freshman)
  14. Ayo Dosunmu, G, Illinois (junior)
  15. David Duke, G, Providence (junior)
  16. Kessler Edwards, F, Pepperdine (junior)
  17. Luka Garza, C, Iowa (senior)
  18. RaiQuan Gray, F, Florida State (junior)
  19. Jalen Green, G, G League Ignite (auto-eligible)
  20. Quentin Grimes, G, Houston (junior)
  21. Sam Hauser, F, Virginia (senior)
  22. Aaron Henry, G/F, Michigan State (junior)
  23. Ariel Hukporti, C, Lithuania (born 2002)
  24. Matthew Hurt, F, Duke (sophomore)
  25. Nah’Shon Hyland, G, VCU (sophomore)
  26. Isaiah Jackson, F, Kentucky (freshman)
  27. David Johnson, G, Louisville (sophomore)
  28. Jalen Johnson, F, Duke (freshman)
  29. Keon Johnson, G, Tennessee (freshman)
  30. Herb Jones, F, Alabama (senior)
  31. Kai Jones, F, Texas (sophomore)
  32. Johnny Juzang, G/F, UCLA (sophomore)
  33. Corey Kispert, F, Gonzaga (senior)
  34. Jonathan Kuminga, F, G League Ignite (auto-eligible)
  35. Scottie Lewis, G, Florida (sophomore)
  36. Isaiah Livers, F, Michigan (senior)
  37. Makur Maker, C, Howard (freshman)
  38. Sandro Mamukelashvili, F/C, Seton Hall (senior)
  39. Tre Mann, G, Florida (sophomore)
  40. Matthew Mayer, G/F, Baylor (junior)
  41. Miles McBride, G, West Virginia (sophomore)
  42. Davion Mitchell, G, Baylor (junior)
  43. Evan Mobley, F/C, USC (freshman)
  44. Isaiah Mobley, F, USC (sophomore)
  45. Moses Moody, G, Arkansas (freshman)
  46. Trey Murphy III, G, Virginia (junior)
  47. Daishen Nix, G, G League Ignite (auto-eligible)
  48. John Petty Jr., G, Alabama (senior)
  49. Yves Pons, G/F, Tennessee (senior)
  50. Jason Preston, G, Ohio (junior)
  51. Joshua Primo, G, Alabama (freshman)
  52. Roko Prkacin, F, Croatia (born 2002)
  53. Neemias Queta, C, Utah State (junior)
  54. Austin Reaves, G, Oklahoma (senior)
  55. Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, F, Villanova (sophomore)
  56. Terrence Shannon Jr., G/F, Texas Tech (sophomore)
  57. Day’Ron Sharpe, F/C, North Carolina (freshman)
  58. Jericho Sims, F/C, Texas (senior)
  59. Jaden Springer, G, Tennessee (freshman)
  60. DJ Steward, G, Duke (freshman)
  61. Cameron Thomas, G, LSU (freshman)
  62. JT Thor, F, Auburn (freshman)
  63. Isaiah Todd, F, G League Ignite (auto-eligible)
  64. Trendon Watford, F, LSU (sophomore)
  65. Joe Wieskamp, G/F, Iowa (junior)
  66. Ziaire Williams, F, Stanford (freshman)
  67. McKinley Wright IV, G, Colorado (senior)
  68. Moses Wright, F, Georgia Tech (senior)
  69. Marcus Zegarowski, G, Creighton (junior)

Draft Notes: Giddey, Pro Days, Combine, G League Elite Camp

Potential lottery pick Josh Giddey isn’t expected to attend the NBA draft combine in Chicago or any pre-draft workouts, tweets Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report. Instead, scouts will get a look at Giddey later this month when his Australian team travels to Las Vegas for exhibition games with Team USA, Spain, Nigeria and Argentina.

The 6’8″ shooting guard has been moving up draft boards and ranks No. 13 on ESPN’s latest list of prospects. Giddey, 18, played this season with the Adelaide 36ers and averaged 10.9 points, 7.1 assists and 6.9 rebounds per game.

There’s more draft news to pass along:

H. Jones, Goodwin, French Withdrawing From Draft

After testing the 2020 NBA draft waters, Alabama forward Herb Jones has decided to withdraw his name and return to school for his senior season, he announced today in a press release.

Jones, who declared for the draft in March, averaged 7.9 PPG, 6.4 RPG, and 2.3 APG for the Crimson Tide in 27 games (26.5 MPG) as a junior in 2019/20. He was one of three Alabama underclassmen to enter the draft — Kira Lewis is expected to keep his name in, while John Petty continues to test the waters.

Meanwhile, a pair of Saint Louis early entrants have also decided to pull out of the 2020 draft pool. According to Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports (Twitter links), both Jordan Goodwin and Hasahn French have informed them that they’re withdrawing their names and heading back to school for their senior years.

Goodwin was Saint Louis’ leading scorer with 15.5 PPG, while French chipped in 12.4 PPG. Both players averaged double-doubles, with an impressive 10.4 RPG apiece.

Today, June 3, was originally scheduled to be the NCAA’s deadline for early entrants to withdraw from the 2020 NBA draft and maintain their college eligibility. However, that deadline was pushed back indefinitely. While players like Jones, Goodwin, and French are making their decisions now, other prospects who are testing the waters should still have several more weeks or months to weigh their options.

Draft Notes: Figueroa, H. Jones, Bishop, Langley

LJ Figueroa of St. John’s has announced on Instagram that he will enter the NBA draft. The sophomore guard averaged 14.5 points and 4.5 rebounds in 32 games this season.

“These past two years at St. John’s have presented me with tremendous opportunities for growth both on and off the court,” Figueroa wrote. “… After speaking with my family and coaching staff, I have decided to declare for the 2020 NBA Draft. I intend to keep all of my options open and look forward to the learning experience this process will offer.”

There are a few more early entries to catch up on:

  • Alabama’s Herbert Jones also declared his draft intentions with an Instagram post. The junior forward averaged 7.9 PPG and 6.4 RPG this year with the Crimson Tide. “For as long as I can remember, my dream has been to play in the NBA,” Jones wrote. “With that said and after much thought and discussions with those close to me, I have decided to enter my name in the 2020 NBA Draft process while maintaining my eligibility. I am excited to take this next step in reaching a dream that I’ve had since I first learned to dribble a basketball.”
  • Jermaine Bishop of Norfolk State is also entering the draft, announcing his decision on Twitter. Bishop, who averaged 15.6 PPG in his first season after transferring from St. Louis, called it a “lifelong dream for me and my family,” but is keeping his options open about returning for his senior season.
  • Kameron Langley of North Carolina A&T also tweeted that he will enter the draft. He averaged 9.4 points and 8.0 assists per game as a junior and will also consider coming back to college.
  • Ceasar DeJesus, a junior guard who averaged 9.5PPG at Central Florida, will also enter the draft pool.