Pelicans Rumors

Lakers Notes: Anthony, LeBron, Nunn, Coaching Staff

Carmelo Anthony was hoping to return to the Trail Blazers this summer before LeBron James urged him to join the Lakers, writes Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. Appearing on Haynes’ “Posted Up” podcast, Anthony said he was waiting to see if Portland was interested in bringing him back when James reached out to him. Anthony spent the last two years with the Blazers, but said management didn’t contact him about a return.

“No, not the way I thought. But honestly, I wasn’t expecting it,” he said. “… Not to say Portland did anything wrong, but I was sitting around because I’m a loyal person. I didn’t want to leave (Damian Lillard) and CJ (McCollum) and those guys. But I know the business.”

In addition to his long friendship with James, Anthony chose the Lakers because he sees the team as his best hope to cap off his career with a championship. He told Haynes that several other organizations expressed interest, which felt good after being out of the league two years ago.

“New York was always there, always a story,” Anthony said. “I told my son when he made it to high school, I’d be there. Philly, I didn’t get a chance to converse with Philly, but there was interest. New Orleans had interest. It felt good to see that again and being a part of teams being interested in me when 18-20 months again, it was nobody.”

There’s more from L.A.:

  • James has played fewer minutes per game each season since 2016/17, and Jovan Buha of The Athletic expects that trend to continue this year. James will turn 37 in December and the Lakers will be try to be careful with him to avoid the kind of long-term injury he had last season.
  • Of all the players the Lakers added in free agency, Kendrick Nunn was probably the most surprising, Buha adds in the same piece. The former Heat guard signed for the taxpayer mid-level exception, and Buha speculates that he could have gotten a better offer from another team. Buha also questions whether Nunn will get the playing time he’s used to with Russell Westbrook handling most of the minutes at point guard.
  • The Lakers have officially announced the additions of David Fizdale and John Lucas III as assistant coaches (Twitter link). Both hires were previously reported.

Pelicans Signing Jared Harper, James Banks To Camp Deals

The Pelicans are signing free agent guard Jared Harper and big man James Banks III to training camp deals, agent Kshaun Daley of Verus Basketball tells our JD Shaw (Twitter link).

Harper, who is celebrating his 24th birthday today, was on a two-way contract with the Suns during his rookie season in 2019/20, then spent most of the ’20/21 campaign on a two-way deal with the Knicks. The former Auburn standout saw limited NBA action in those two seasons, logging just 24 total minutes in 11 games, but he played regularly at the G League level.

In 46 total games for the Westchester Knicks and Northern Arizona Suns from 2019-21, Harper averaged 20.5 PPG and 5.9 APG on .429/.370/.802 shooting in 30.0 minutes per contest.

Banks, meanwhile, went undrafted out of Georgia Tech in 2020 after making the ACC All-Defensive Team in both his junior and senior seasons. The 6’10” center spent his first professional season in Israel with Hapoel Be’er Sheva, then suited up for the Cavaliers at the Las Vegas Summer League last month.

The Pelicans currently have 18 players under contract, including 15 on guaranteed deals, one on a non-guaranteed contract (Wenyen Gabriel), and two on two-way deals (Jose Alvarado and Daulton Hommes). Signing Harper and Banks will bring New Orleans to the 20-man preseason limit, though the team has also reportedly reached a deal with Malcolm Hill, so more moves are likely on the way before opening night.

Both Harper and Banks will be on Exhibit 10 deals, which will make them candidates to join the Birmingham Squadron – New Orleans’ G League team – if they don’t earn spots on the Pelicans’ 17-man regular season squad. In that scenario, they’d be eligible for bonuses worth up to $50K in addition to their NBAGL salaries.

And-Ones: Rule Change, Rookies, Ignite, J. Franklin

The NBA’s Board of Governors will vote later this month to approve a rule change to the way late-game out-of-bounds reviews are handled, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter links).

In past seasons, close out-of-bounds calls have been automatically reviewed in the last two minutes of games, resulting in prolonged stoppages that have halted the momentum of close contests and dragged out the final moments of those games. If the Board of Governors approves the rule change, a head coach’s challenge will be required to trigger those reviews, says Charania.

As John Hollinger of The Athletic points out, it’s possible some close calls would be missed as a result of this change. However, some of the calls being overturned by those automatic reviews were plays where a defender clearly knocked a ball out of bounds, but it grazed the ball-handler’s fingertips last, which was a change “nobody wanted.”

Here are more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Mike Schmitz of ESPN (Insider link) identifies several 2021 rookies who are strong candidates to outperform their post-lottery draft positions, including Rockets big man Alperen Sengun (No. 16), Pelicans wing Trey Murphy III (No. 17), and Nuggets guard Bones Hyland (No. 26).
  • BIG3 director of basketball operations Thomas Scott, a former Lakers assistant, has joined the G League Ignite as an assistant coach on Jason Hart‘s staff, per an announcement from the BIG3 (Twitter link). Scott will also be the Ignite’s head of player development, tweets Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated.
  • The Chinese Basketball Association has lifted its restrictions on teams signing foreign players now that it has decided to conduct its 2021/22 season in a bubble, as Nicola Lupo of Sportando writes. Sources tell Sportando that former Grizzlies and Nuggets wing Jamaal Franklin – a second-round pick in 2013 – is one of the first players to take advantage, having signed a lucrative new deal with the Shanghai Sharks.

Swin Cash Discusses Her Role With The Pelicans' Front Office

  • Former WNBA star Swin Cash talked about her front office role with the Pelicans during an interview with Alexa Philippou of The Hartford Courant. “Coming in, the biggest thing was (executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin) let me know because of what I was bringing, he really needed me to be that person, that glue, that can see what we need, can get in front of it, can build it and understanding the player’s perspective, understanding the front office perspective,” Cash said. “And so that’s how I kind of approach my day. I wear multiple hats, but I’m never too far away from decisions that are being made within our organization and having a seat at that table and being able to contribute in a very organic way.”

Pelicans To Sign Malcolm Hill To Camp Deal

After playing for the Pelicans’ team at the Las Vegas Summer League last month, small forward Malcolm Hill will attend training camp with New Orleans, reports ESPN’s Andrew Lopez (Twitter link).

Hill has spent the last several years playing in international leagues after going undrafted out of Illinois in 2017. The 25-year-old was a member of teams in the Philippines, Germany, Kazakhstan, and Israel before returning stateside this year. He averaged 17.2 PPG and 5.1 RPG on .434/.355/.784 shooting in 35 games (33.3 MPG) in his last college season, back in 2016/17.

The Pelicans are currently carrying 15 players on guaranteed contracts, plus Wenyen Gabriel on a non-guaranteed deal and Jose Alvarado and Daulton Hommes on two-way deals. Barring additional moves, it doesn’t look like the team will have any open roster spots for the regular season, so Hill could be on track to eventually join the Birmingham Squad, New Orleans’ new G League affiliate.

29 Of NBA’s 30 Teams Have Made At Least One Offseason Trade

So far during the NBA’s 2021 offseason, a total of 32 trades have been made, including the not-yet-official deals between the Grizzlies/Celtics and Nets/Pistons that were reported earlier today. Of the league’s 30 teams, 29 have been involved in those deals — the Nuggets are the only team that hasn’t forayed into the trade market at least once since the regular season ended.

[RELATED: 2021 NBA Offseason Trades]

After today’s trade agreement, Memphis is the only club that has completed six deals during the 2021 offseason. The Grizzlies acquired some extra draft assets from New Orleans as a reward for taking on Eric Bledsoe and Steven Adams, moved up 10 spots in the draft to select Santi Aldama, sent Grayson Allen to Milwaukee, flipped Bledsoe to the Clippers for three players, then sent one of those three players (Patrick Beverley) to Minnesota in exchange for Juan Hernangomez and Jarrett Culver before flipping Hernangomez to Boston.

The Celtics, meanwhile, are one of just two other teams that has agreed to five trades so far this offseason. New president of basketball operations Brad Stevens has been busy in his first summer on the job, striking the first deal of the offseason when he sent Kemba Walker to Oklahoma City. The team also acquired Josh Richardson from Dallas, traded away Tristan Thompson in a three-team deal, created a trade exception by signing-and-trading Evan Fournier, and agreed today to acquire Hernangomez.

The Pelicans are the other club that has made five trades so far this summer. Three of New Orleans’ trades came as a result of selling off picks in the July 29 draft, but the other two were significant moves — the Pels landed Valanciunas and Devonte’ Graham (via sign-and-trade) in a three-team deal with Memphis and Charlotte, and acquired Tomas Satoransky and Garrett Temple in the sign-and-trade sending Lonzo Ball to Chicago.

Here are a few more details on this offseason’s 32 trades:

  • The Bulls, Clippers, Knicks, and Thunder have each made four trades, with the Hornets, Nets, Pacers, Spurs, and Jazz completing three.
  • The Pistons, Cavaliers, Rockets, Bucks, Timberwolves, and Trail Blazers have made two trades apiece, while 11 teams have been involved in just one trade.
  • Three of this offeason’s 32 trades have been three-teamers, while one (the Russell Westbrook/Spencer Dinwiddie deal) included five teams. The other 28 deals were just two-team agreements.
  • Nearly half of this summer’s trades (15 of 32) included at least one 2021 draft pick — either the pick itself was dealt before the draft started, or the rights to a player were traded after he was selected on July 29.
  • Eight of this offseason’s deals included a free agent being signed-and-traded. One of those eight – the Bulls/Pelicans deal – featured multiple players being signed-and-traded, with Ball heading to Chicago and Temple going to New Orleans.
  • Eight first-round picks from future drafts (ie. 2022 and beyond) changed hands this offseason in six different deals. However, all of those picks were fairly heavily protected — all of them had at least top-10 protection.

Harper Pans Pelicans' Offseason; Smoothie King Center Will Be Ready For Season

  • While the city of New Orleans was hit hard by Hurricane Ida, the Pelicans‘ Smoothie King Center only sustained “minor exterior damage,” according to the team. The Pels will be able to play their home games there this fall without issue, as Christian Clark of details.
  • Zach Harper of The Athletic was underwhelmed by the Pelicans‘ offseason, giving the team a grade of D-plus for its summer moves. While Harper liked the acquisition of Jonas Valanciunas and New Orleans’ deal with Josh Hart, he believes the club significantly downgraded its backcourt, calling the Devonte’ Graham signing a “pretty bad” deal.
  • While the city of New Orleans was hit hard by Hurricane Ida, the Pelicans‘ Smoothie King Center only sustained “minor exterior damage,” according to the team. The Pels will be able to play their home games there this fall without issue, as Christian Clark of details.

Pelicans Receive 'D' Grade From Pelton For Offseason Moves

  • In a pair of Insider-only stories for, Kevin Pelton handed out offseason grades for all the teams in both the Eastern Conference and Western Conference. The Hawks and Wizards were the two teams to earn an A, while the Cavaliers and Pelicans were the only two to receive a D.

Southwest Notes: Grizzlies, Benson, Brandon Boston, THJ

In an extensive new mailbag, Chris Herrington of the Daily Memphian addressed the possibility of the Grizzlies considering trades for incumbent wings Dillon Brooks and Kyle Anderson, among other topics. Herrington wrote that, though an offseason Anderson trade appears unlikely, he could see the veteran forward’s expiring $9.9MM contract being moved during the year.

Because Brooks’s current three-year, $35MM contract extension with the club is fairly favorable, Herrington considers him less likely to be moved. Herrington also speculates on how the new-look Grizzlies can improve in a stacked Western Conference.

There’s more out of the Southwest Division:

  • Pelicans owner Gayle Benson has donated $1MM towards Hurricane Ida relief, per an official press release from Benson and the Pelicans.
  • The Pelicans received $2.5MM in cash considerations from the Clippers in New Orleans’ trade of No. 51 pick Brandon Boston out of Kentucky, according to Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders. The Pelicans also received a heavily-protected 2022 second-round draft pick in the deal that appears unlikely to convey.
  • Mavericks swingman Tim Hardaway Jr., newly re-signed on a four-year, $75MM deal, registered his optimism about the future performance of former All-Star big man Kristaps Porzingis, as Eddie Sefko of relays. So far during his time in Dallas, Porzingis has been a shadow of his former self as the result of a series of injuries. “I know he’s back in Latvia busting his tail right now to get back to where he was before the injury when we were with the Knicks,” Hardaway said. “I know how much he loves the game and how much he works. He’s going to do whatever he can to get back to that level. Injuries do play a part in the game.”

Footage Released From Hayes' Arrest; Pelicans Got $1.2MM In Ball Trade

  • Body camera footage has been released from the arrest of Pelicans center Jaxson Hayes in Los Angeles last month, per Christian Clark of Hayes had an altercation with police after the incident, which he said stemmed from a fight with a girlfriend. He was treated at a hospital for minor injuries and charged with resisting arrest.
  • The Pelicans received $1.2MM in the sign-and-trade deal that sent Lonzo Ball to the Bulls, tweets Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report.