Jose Alvarado

Southwest Notes: Tillman, Jackson Jr., Bane, Alvarado, Ivey

As Michigan State graduates, the Grizzlies’ Xavier Tillman and Jaren Jackson Jr. have a tight bond with the Warriors’ Draymond Green, but those feelings are put on hold during the playoffs, writes Evan Barnes of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. Green and Jackson have sniped at each other through the first two games of their series, and Tillman hit Green in the eye with an elbow as they chased a loose ball, causing him to need stitches.

“They’re going to try to take your head off. I’m going to try to take their head off. That’s just the reality of it,” Green said. “You’re competing for something that you put your heart into … you dedicate a lot of time to this, you sacrifice a lot of things for this. So ultimately, they stand in the way of what I want, I stand in the way of what they want.”

Tillman and Jackson both view Green as a mentor, Barnes adds. Spartans coach Tom Izzo frequently compared Tillman to Green when he was in college, and Tillman incorporated aspects of Green’s game into his own.

“I’ve watched his career every step of the way, trying to figure out how I can mold mine like his and stay in this league for a long time and be productive on the things I’m most comfortable at,” Tillman said.

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • Grizzlies guard Desmond Bane, who was listed as questionable before Game 2 because of back soreness, is feeling better, tweets Mark Medina of USA Today. “I don’t think he’s at full strength like he was in the regular season, but he’s the ultimate competitor,” coach Taylor Jenkins said.
  • Coming off an impressive playoff performance, Pelicans rookie Jose Alvarado announced this week that he wants to eventually win Defensive Player of the Year honors. “One day I’m going win DPOY,” he tweeted Thursday. “Mark my word!”
  • Purdue’s Jaden Ivey may be the most talented guard in the draft, but he might be an awkward fit with the Rockets, who already have Kevin Porter Jr. and Jalen Green in their backcourt, observes Kelly Iko of The Athletic. If Houston ends up taking Ivey, who is consistently projected as a top four pick, Iko believes Porter would move from lead guard to playmaking forward, which was his original position when he entered the NBA.

Pelicans Notes: Offseason, Jones, Murphy, Alvarado, Zion

When the Pelicans got off to a 1-12 start this season, it looked like the team was headed for another lottery finish and some difficult offseason questions. Instead, New Orleans managed to turn things around, earned a playoff berth via the play-in tournament, and gave the NBA-best Suns all they could handle in the first round of the playoffs.

“To get to the playoffs, we continued to believe in ourselves. Continued to get better, believing in this organization,” Brandon Ingram said after Thursday’s Game 6 loss, according to Will Guillory of The Athletic. “New coach. New players. Figuring it out so fast. You don’t think about it in the moment because we just lost, but we definitely came a long way from the beginning of the season.”

As Guillory writes, the first-round loss to Phoenix was a tough one, given how competitive the Pelicans made the series (they were outscored by a total margin of 668-659 across six games). But after laying a strong foundation of young talent, the franchise looks poised to remain competitive and continue improving in the coming years.

There are still some pressing offseason questions facing the Pelicans, with both Zion Williamson and Jaxson Hayes eligible for rookie scale extensions, but all of the team’s young players are under contract for 2022/23, Guillory notes. And while there has been plenty of speculation about Williamson’s long-term commitment to New Orleans, the team couldn’t have done much more this spring to make him want to be part of the future.

Here’s more on the Pelicans:

  • The Pelicans wouldn’t have gotten as far as they did this season without the contributions they received from a trio of unheralded rookies, according to Andrew Lopez of ESPN, who spotlights Herbert Jones, Trey Murphy, and Jose Alvarado. Jones emerged as a legitimate All-Defensive candidate, Murphy knocked down 38.2% of his three-point attempts, and Alvarado provided energy and hustle plays off the bench. All three players are under contract for multiple years going forward.
  • In his Pelicans offseason preview, ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Insider link) examines the big decision the team must make on a potential Williamson extension and points out that veterans like CJ McCollum and Larry Nance Jr. will be extension-eligible this summer as well.
  • Yossi Gozlan of HoopsHype also looks ahead to the Williamson contract negotiations and the other key roster decisions facing the Pelicans this summer. As Gozlan writes, New Orleans doesn’t have much breathing room below the projected luxury tax line, which will affect the club’s ability to make full use of its mid-level exception.

Pelicans Notes: Lineup, Griffin, Ingram, Alvarado

The Pelicans‘ “jumbo” lineups weren’t working in Game 1 of their first-round series vs. the Suns, writes William Guillory of The Athletic. The team found success in the second half of the regular season by starting Jaxson Hayes at power forward alongside center Jonas Valanciunas, but the two big men had matching plus-minus ratings of -11 on Sunday, the worst marks of any player on either team.

Hayes ended up playing just 11 minutes, with Trey Murphy coming off the bench to play 26 minutes. New Orleans was a plus-six when Murphy was on the court and the team’s offense was functioning better, says Guillory. However, head coach Willie Green told reporters on Monday that he’s not planning to change his starting lineup, per Andrew Lopez of ESPN (Twitter link).

“Not at the moment,” Green said. “I think as a group, we didn’t have a great first half. That wasn’t one individual, that was us as a team. We have to be better. We have to do the things we do better, harder and with more force and see where we are after that.”

Here’s more on the Pelicans:

  • Pelicans VP of basketball operations David Griffin has made some mistakes since being hired to head up the team’s front office in 2019, but he deserves credit for putting together a team that made the playoffs even without Zion Williamson available all season, Rod Walker of opines. Walker believes the Pelicans look like a potential top-three squad in the West with a fully healthy Williamson.
  • Griffin’s faith in Brandon Ingram as a franchise leader on and off the court has been rewarded, according to Scott Kushner of, who points to Ingram’s performances in play-in wins over the Spurs (27 points) and Clippers (30 points) as indicators of the forward’s ability to handle the spotlight and step up in big games.
  • Pelicans rookie guard Jose Alvarado is joining Puerto Rico’s national team, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). As Charania observes, Alvarado will get a chance to face Team USA this summer in qualifiers for the 2023 FIBA World Cup.
  • Jason Quick of The Athletic takes a look at the long-standing bond between Willie Green and his first-round coaching rival Monty Williams. After the two men were teammates in Philadelphia, Green played for Williams in New Orleans and then was an assistant on his Suns staff. “Monty and I are not just friends,” Green told Quick. “We are like … that’s like my older brother. I look up to Monty.”

Southwest Notes: Alvarado, Ingram, Zion, Bates-Diop, Spurs Picks

Jose Alvarado has had an eventful rookie season for the Pelicans. He started his NBA career undrafted after four seasons at Georgia Tech, then signed a two-way deal with New Orleans.

The 23-year-old rarely played in the first few months of the season, but made a significant impact when he did, so coach Willie Green started playing him more and the front office took notice — Alvarado was promoted to a four-year, $6.5MM contract last week, with the final two seasons being non-guaranteed.

Alvarado recently spoke to William Guillory of The Athletic about a number of topics. Here are a couple highlights from the interview.

On his new contract:

“It’s amazing. When I found out the deal was happening and I’m officially signing, it was like another dream come true. It was another step for me as I’m continuing to go after my dreams. It was something you can’t really picture or put words to because it’s all you’ve ever dreamed of doing your whole life. When it did happen, all I could do was sit back and thank God. It just felt like something out of a movie.”

On his incredible steals numbers (if he qualified, he’d lead the league in steal percentage and steals per 36 minutes):

“I’ve always felt like defense is 90 percent heart. The other 10 percent you get from developing skill, having length, all that other stuff. With me, I just take every possession personal. I’m not the guy they bring up when they talk about great defensive players, but I’m gonna make sure I am soon enough. It’s more about the mindset.

“I’m not sure I’m eligible for NBA All-Defense or anything like that, but I want to be in that category. I feel like I’m in that category as one of those best defenders, even though I’m a rookie.”

It’s an interesting read and worth checking out in full if you’re an Athletic subscriber.

Here’s more from the Southwest:

  • The Pelicans guaranteed themselves a spot in the play-in tournament by beating the Kings on Tuesday night, Guillory writes in a separate article. Brandon Ingram is excited for what the team can show once they get Zion Williamson back in action. “When you look at it on paper, it’s exciting. It’s like, ‘OK, we added CJ (McCollum). If you throw the big fella in there, it’s going to be serious,'” Ingram told The Athletic. “We’re just monitoring him as he continues to go through his rehab and do more work. It’s good to have him back. It looks like he’s having fun around the guys. It’s good to have him around.”
  • After defeating the Nuggets on Tuesday, the Spurs are also guaranteed a spot in the play-in, and Keita Bates-Diop‘s versatility has proven to be valuable, according to Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News. “I am big and long enough to play most positions and I know how to play,” Bates-Diop said. “It’s not just the size. It’s knowing the coverages, knowing one through five. I am knowledgeable about a bunch of different things, so they trust me out there at the five.”
  • The Raptors have earned a playoff berth, which means the Spurs now hold three first-round picks in the 2022 draft, per ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Twitter link). The Spurs acquired the lottery-protected pick in the deal that sent Thaddeus Young to the Raptors. The Spurs own Toronto’s pick, Boston’s pick (via the Derrick White trade), and their own.

Southwest Notes: McCollum, Collins, Landale, Knight, Alvarado

CJ McCollum sees tonight’s game against the Trail Blazers as the “final closure” on the trade that sent him to the Pelicans, writes Andrew Lopez of ESPN. McCollum’s family joined him in New Orleans recently, but this week marks his first time back at his Portland house since the February 8 deal.

“I had conversations and was able to talk to some of my teammates and obviously I still talk to them to this day,” said McCollum, who spent his first eight and a half NBA seasons with the Blazers. “I talked with the staff. It’ll be good to see (coach Chauncey Billups), talk about our teams. Talk about our football teams. Just kind of catch up and get back to business. Get the win and get outta here. This is the final step. You know this is going to happen at some point. But it’s good that it’s happy emotions opposed to the opposite. I like to call it a happy breakup. One where you’re not bitter at your ex.”

Although McCollum was a fan favorite in Portland and loved playing there, it was clear by the trade deadline that it was time to move on. He has quickly become a team leader with the Pelicans, averaging career-best numbers with 25.9 points, 6.5 assists and 4.9 rebounds in 19 games.

“It was a team I kind of zeroed in on and they obviously zeroed in on me,” McCollum said. “I knew what I signed up for and what I was going to be asked to do, and I’m doing it. They held up their end of the bargain as well. I’m happy to be in this situation.”

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • Zach Collins‘ return from injury and Jock Landale‘s emergence late in his first NBA season have stabilized the Spurs‘ frontcourt rotation, per Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News. San Antonio is especially happy with Collins, who is delivering on the three-year, $22MM gamble the organization took on him after missing nearly two full seasons and undergoing three ankle surgeries. Landale is giving the team a reason to consider guaranteeing his $1.56MM contract for next season.
  • Brandon Knight was on the court tonight, one day after rejoining the Mavericks on a 10-day contract, tweets Callie Caplan of The Dallas Morning News. Knight flew to Cleveland to meet the team, which needed backcourt help with Spencer Dinwiddie, Trey Burke and Frank Ntilikina all missing the game.
  • The four-year deal the Pelicans gave rookie guard Jose Alvarado when they converted his two-way contract carries a $1.1MM guarantee for next season, tweets Michael Scotto of HoopsHype. Years three and four are non-guaranteed, and the team holds an option on the final season.

Pelicans Notes: McCollum, Rookies, Ceiling, Alvarado, Benson

The 2021/22 season has been the most difficult of CJ McCollum‘s nine-year career, but he has excelled since being traded to the Pelicans, according to Alex Kennedy of

As Kennedy details, McCollum had only played under one coach and one general manager in his first eight seasons, but the Blazers “mutually agreed” to part ways with Terry Stotts and the rest of his staff last June, then fired president of basketball operations Neil Olshey in early December after a misconduct investigation. A day after Olshey was dismissed, McCollum suffered a collapsed lung.

McCollum also became a father for the first time in January when COVID cases were spiking, dealt with trade rumors for a few months prior to being dealt to New Orleans, and then had a bout of COVID-19 earlier this month. Despite the chaotic circumstances, McCollum has averaged a stellar 25.9 points, 4.9 rebounds, 6.5 assists and 1.2 steals on .501/.384/.720 shooting through 19 games with his new club.

I’m excited, man. I’m thankful to be here,” McCollum said. “I’ve said it a thousand times, but I like what we’re building here, I like the way we’re playing, I like the way we’re executing, and the sky’s the limit for us.”

At 32-43, the Pelicans are currently the No. 9 seed in the West, holding a half-game lead over the No. 10 Lakers (31-43) and a one-game lead over the No. 11 Spurs (31-44).

Here’s more on the Pelicans:

  • The rookie trio of Herbert Jones, Jose Alvarado and Trey Murphy could go down as one of the best in franchise history, writes William Guillory of The Athletic. Jones and Alvarado have been rotation regulars and defensive stalwarts throughout the season, while Murphy has been up-and-down. He had one of his best games of the season during the team’s win over the Lakers on Sunday, scoring 21 points on 7-12 shooting in 25 minutes. “It’s almost like night and day, honestly. Just getting comfortable, getting a lot of reps and just trusting the process,” Murphy said, per Guillory. “Going into the season, if I’m being realistic, I had a lot of expectations for myself, especially with summer league and preseason. Just staying even through all that stuff, through the lows, that’s the best way to do it.”
  • Christian Clark, Scott Kushner and Rod Walker of explore the team’s ceiling for this season following Sunday’s 116-108 victory over the Lakers.
  • Center Jonas Valanciunas said Alvarado earned his new promotion, Clark tweets. “Very happy. He deserved it. He’s been working hard. Maybe at times, he’s been acting like a vet. But he deserved it.” Alvarado was promoted to a four-year, standard deal on Monday after playing the entire season on a two-way contract.
  • In a separate article for, Clark writes that owner Gayle Benson was recently asked about the possibility of building a new arena for the Pelicans, but was non-committal in her reply. “You know, that’s in the future, we’re trying to look for now,” Benson said. “We’re talking about it, but we’ve been talking about it. Hopefully, at the right time we’ll make that decision.” Clark notes the team’s lease for the Smoothie King Center expires June 30, 2024, but the Pelicans can exercise a five-year option to remain in the arena at any point prior to the expiration date.

Pelicans Sign Jose Alvarado To Four-Year Deal

MARCH 28: The Pelicans have officially announced Alvarado’s new deal, issuing a press release to confirm the move. The team terminated Wallace’s 10-day contract early, as expected, in order to make room on the 15-man roster for Alvarado.

Alvarado’s new contract will include a fourth-year team option, tweets Andrew Lopez of ESPN. That will give the Pelicans the opportunity to turn down that option and make Alvarado a restricted free agent in 2024, if they so choose.

MARCH 27: The Pelicans are converting guard Jose Alvarado from his two-way contract, signing him to a four-year, $6.5MM deal, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

The agreement will guarantee Alvarado $3.4MM over the next two years, including $1.5MM on top of the $800K he has already earned this season, according to Charania.

Those numbers appear slightly high if the deal is only worth $6.5MM in total, but it sounds like the rookie guard will at least get two fully guaranteed years followed by two minimum-salary seasons that aren’t fully guaranteed.

Alvarado, 23, signed a two-way deal with New Orleans after going unselected in last year’s draft following four collegiate seasons at Georgia Tech. He has played a key role in the team’s backcourt this season, averaging 6.2 points, 2.8 assists and 1.3 steals in 15.3 minutes per contest entering Sunday. He has also shot 43.5% from the floor and 31.6% from behind-the-arc.

By converting Alvarado, the Pelicans will open up a two-way contract spot. The team owns the 10th-best record in the Western Conference at 31-43, leading the Spurs by one game. Promoting Alvarado to the 15-man roster also makes him eligible to play in the postseason, including the play-in game(s).

New Orleans will dip into its mid-level exception in order to ensure Alvarado makes more than the minimum salary this season and to give him four years. The team had only used $1.7MM of its $9.5MM mid-level in 2021/22 in order to sign Herbert Jones.

The Pelicans currently have a full 15-man roster, but 15th man Tyrone Wallace is on a 10-day contract that only runs through Wednesday, so he’ll likely have that deal terminated a couple days early in order to accommodate Alvarado’s promotion.

Pelicans Notes: Zion, Alvarado, Nance, Hart

As William Guillory of The Athletic observes, it’s no coincidence that Zion Williamson – typically not very active on social media – posted a video of him throwing down a between-the-legs windmill dunk just days after Shams Charania reported that he likely won’t return this season. It also doesn’t seem like a coincidence that the Pelicans cleared him for increased activity shortly after that video was posted, Guillory writes.

There’s “an air of silent cold war brewing” between the Pelicans and Williamson, according to Scott Kushner of, who writes that the star forward clearly wants to play this season, while the team – wary of risking his long-term health – is reluctant to let him.

It’s a difficult spot for the Pelicans, who reportedly frustrated Williamson during his rookie year by playing it safe with his knee injury and holding him out longer than he felt was necessary. The two sides are about to enter a crucial offseason, with the former No. 1 overall pick eligible for a rookie scale extension.

Before that offseason begins, Williamson, his camp, and the Pelicans’ top decision-makers need to come together to agree on a decision about his status for this season, Guillory opines. If all the involved parties can get on the same page on that issue, it should create a more comfortable starting point when they approach extension talks in the summer.

Here’s more on the Pelicans:

  • Christian Clark of examines some of the similarities and differences between Williamson’s lengthy injury rehab process this season and Kawhi Leonard‘s injury recovery process during his final year in San Antonio.
  • Within his weekly “10 Things” column for ESPN, Zach Lowe highlights the impact that Jose Alvarado has had in New Orleans and says he’d be shocked if the team doesn’t convert Alvarado’s two-way contract to a standard deal soon. Doing so would ensure that the rookie guard is eligible for the play-in tournament and playoffs.
  • William Guillory and John Hollinger of The Athletic discuss several topics related to the Pelicans’ future, weighing the possibility of a Williamson extension, considering whether or not Alvarado’s emergence changes the backcourt plans going forward, and evaluating the team’s chances of earning a playoff spot next month.
  • Following up on last month’s revelation that good friends Larry Nance Jr. and Josh Hart temporarily swapped houses when they were traded for one another, Andrew Lopez of ESPN takes an entertaining, in-depth look at what that arrangement has looked like.

Pelicans Notes: Zion, Ingram, Alvarado, Roster

Pelicans forward Zion Williamson has officially rejoined the team, having been spotted today at New Orleans’ shootaround, as Andrew Lopez of ESPN tweets.

Reports last week indicated that Williamson would be returning to New Orleans after spending much of the winter rehabbing his foot injury on the West Coast. The former No. 1 overall pick moved his rehab to Portland in early January.

Williamson’s return to the Pelicans doesn’t necessarily mean his return his imminent, but his recovery from foot surgery is believed to be trending in a positive direction again following a couple setbacks earlier in the season. If he’s able to play before the regular season ends, it would make the Pels all the more dangerous entering next month’s play-in tournament.

“It’s good. It’s good for him,” Pelicans guard Devonte’ Graham said on Friday (Twitter link via Christian Clark of “I know he missed being here. Just being around your family, your brothers. It was a warm welcome when he came back. Just want to see him healthy. That’s all.”

Here’s more on the Pelicans:

  • In a Hoop Collective segment (video link), ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, Tim Bontemps, and Tim MacMahon debate whether the Pelicans are more likely to extend, trade, or stay the course with Williamson during the 2022 offseason.
  • With Williamson sidelined for the entire season, Brandon Ingram has taken on more responsibilities in 2021/22, making an effort to be more of a leader despite having a quieter, more reserved personality, writes Will Guillory of The Athletic. “We just have a really good group of guys, and we all care for each other. We all want to see each other at our best,” Ingram said. “I just try to share my experiences to help those guys and let them know I’m there for them when they need me. It’s also good for me when I go up to those guys and tell them what I see, because it helps me get out of my own head. Once I do that, it’s easier to focus on the moment and play the game the right way.”
  • Ingram’s teammates have been impressed by what they’ve seen from him this season, as Guillory details in the same story. “He’s just growing up in this role. He’s more locked in,” Naji Marshall told The Athletic. “Not saying that he wasn’t last year, but I feel like this year, he’s taking it personal. Whether it’s not getting the recognition from people or not making All-Star, he’s taking it all personal. It’s showing on and off the court. You can’t question how special that dude is.”
  • As an undrafted free agent on a two-way contract, rookie guard Jose Alvarado wasn’t expected to play a major role for the Pelicans this season, but he has exceeded all expectations and leads first-year players in plus-minus, says Christian Clark of The Pelicans have a +12.4 net rating when Alvarado plays, compared to -4.6 when he sits.
  • In case you missed it, the Pelicans are set to sign Tyrone Wallace to a 10-day contract after placing CJ McCollum in the health and safety protocols. Alize Johnson currently occupies the club’s 15th roster spot on a 10-day deal that will expire tonight — New Orleans could re-sign him and add Wallace by completing one of the signings using the COVID-related hardship allowance, as ESPN’s Bobby Marks tweets.

Atlantic Notes: Simmons, Embiid, Durant, Knicks

In a column for, Chris Mannix makes the case that the Sixers should move sooner rather than later on a Ben Simmons trade, even if the team might be able to get a stronger return in the offseason. As Mannix argues, Joel Embiid is having an MVP-caliber season and the 76ers are a borderline title contender, so getting a couple good pieces in exchange for Simmons – who isn’t playing – could be enough to push the team over the top.

However, it doesn’t sound like the Sixers feel compelled to act yet. Acknowledging that Philadelphia’s stance has been “all over the place and difficult to read” over the last few months, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said on NBA Today (video link) on Thursday that the club still appears prepared to extend its standoff with Simmons beyond February 10.

“The most recent conversations out of Philly to opposing teams in trade talks are that not only are the Sixers showing signs that they are willing to keep Ben Simmons past this trade deadline, but they have not given up on Ben Simmons reversing his field and playing for them this season,” Windhorst said. “… Now, I don’t think that this is a viable option, based on my conversations with Ben Simmons’ side, but it is what the Sixers are saying today.”

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • After a brief on-court altercation between Embiid and Pelicans rookie Jose Alvarado on Tuesday resulted in technical fouls for both players, Alvarado revealed on Thursday that the Sixers center was paying the $2,000 fine associated with his technical. Embiid explained to reporters, including Andrew Lopez of ESPN, why he covered the cost of Alvarado’s fine. “I just like his energy. He plays hard. He competes. Even when he picked up the tech, he wasn’t backing down,” Embiid said. “… I just felt like the least I can do because I made him pick up a tech and he doesn’t make as much as other guys in the league. I just felt like that was on me and I didn’t want him to lose that money because I’m sure we all need it.”
  • Nets forward Kevin Durant has earned a $1.1MM bonus as a result of making the All-Star Game, tweets ESPN’s Bobby Marks. Even if Durant hadn’t been named an All-Star starter, he would’ve received that bonus if he appears in at least 50 games, the Nets make the playoffs, or the Nets win at least 43 games, so it was a virtual lock. The former MVP’s cap hit going forward will be unaffected, since the bonus had already been considered likely.
  • Following the Knicks‘ loss to Miami on Wednesday, swingman Evan Fournier expressed frustration with the team’s inability to make in-game changes on offense to account for opposing defensive game plans. “We have to adapt. That’s the main thing,” Fournier said, per Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News. “Because we have the weapons, let’s be honest. We have guys who can score. It shouldn’t be a problem for us to score.” New York currently ranks 24th in the NBA in offensive rating.