- The Pelicans have assigned Frank Jackson and Kenrich Williams to the G League, the team announced today in a press release. Since New Orleans doesn’t have an NBAGL affiliate of its own, Jackson and Williams will join the Texas Legends, Dallas’ affiliate, and are suiting up for the Legends tonight against Austin.
The Pelicans, Pistons, and Kings have been among the most active teams calling around in search of potential upgrades to their respective rosters, league executives tell ESPN’s Brian Windhorst. As Windhorst notes, those three clubs are expected to be among the NBA’s buyers leading up to this season’s trade deadline.
New Orleans and Detroit are both in win-now mode, and have shown a willingness in recent years to move first-round picks for immediate upgrades. Anthony Davis‘ uncertain future will motivate the Pelicans to be one of the most aggressive teams on this season’s trade market, and Pistons owner Tom Gores badly wants to see his team back in the postseason, as Windhorst explains.
As for the Kings, this is the second time this week that Windhorst has talked about them being potential buyers. Sacramento, which has traded away its 2019 first-round pick and has no incentive to tank, has exceeded expectations this year and is currently in the hunt for a playoff spot. Plus, the Kings are the only NBA team currently under the cap, and their $11MM in room could open up additional trade opportunities.
On the other end of the spectrum, the Cavaliers remain the NBA’s most noteworthy seller on the trade market, according to Windhorst. Even after moving Kyle Korver and George Hill, Cleveland may continue to be active — J.R. Smith is a prime trade candidate, and even Rodney Hood and Alec Burks could be on the block, Windhorst adds.
Although Hood and Burks are both in contract years, there would be some complications if the Cavs want to move either of them. Hood doesn’t become trade-eligible until January 15 and has the ability to veto any deal, while Burks can’t be aggregated with any other players until January 29.
As we detailed earlier today in a full story, the Knicks assigned veteran wing Courtney Lee to the G League to get in some minutes and improve his conditioning. Lee struggled a little with his shot for the Westchester Knicks on Tuesday night, scoring 16 points on 7-of-21 shooting (1-of-9 on threes).
Here are the rest of today’s G League assignments and recalls from around the NBA:
- The Jazz assigned Grayson Allen and Georges Niang to the Salt Lake City Stars in advance of the team’s game tonight against Austin, the team announced in a press release.
- Rookie point guard Elie Okobo was assigned to the G League today by the Suns, as Gina Mizell of The Athletic relays (via Twitter). Okobo, who has been in and out of Phoenix’s rotation this season, started at the point for Northern Arizona tonight.
- The Bucks assigned D.J. Wilson to the G League in advance of the Wisconsin Herd’s two-game road trip this week, according to the club (Twitter link). A first-rounder in 2017, Wilson still isn’t part of Milwaukee’s rotation, having played just two games for the Bucks this season.
- Sixers rookie Jonah Bolden was recalled from the G League this morning, then re-assigned several hours later, per Derek Bodner of The Athletic (Twitter links). Bolden has averaged a double-double in four G League contests, posting 15.5 PPG and 12.3 RPG in Delaware.
- After helping lead the Memphis Hustle to a Monday victory with 25 points and 10 boards, Ivan Rabb was recalled to the NBA today by the Grizzlies, according to the club (Twitter link).
- The Hawks recalled Daniel Hamilton from Erie, as Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution tweets. Hamilton posted back-to-back double-doubles for the BayHawks during his latest G League stint.
- 2018 first-round pick Troy Brown was recalled to the NBA by the Wizards, the team announced today (via Twitter). Brown has averaged 18.3 PPG on 47.5% in four NBAGL games this season.
- The Pelicans have recalled Frank Jackson from the G League, per a team press release. New Orleans doesn’t have its own affiliate, so Jackson had been with the Texas Legends, Dallas’ NBAGL squad.
- The Bucks recalled Christian Wood from the Wisconsin Herd today, according to RealGM’s transactions log. Wood has appeared sparingly in just six games for Milwaukee in 2018/19.
- With the Pelicans playing in Boston on Monday night, Anthony Davis trade speculation has been a popular subject so far this week. Tim Bontemps of ESPN.com explained why those whispers aren’t going away anytime soon, while Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry made light of the topic by joking with Celtics GM Danny Ainge about it, as Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald relays. As for Davis, he once again dismissed that chatter, telling Bontemps that he’s just focused on getting New Orleans back into the playoffs and making a deeper run than last year.
The Cavaliers have traded veterans George Hill and Kyle Korver in the past two weeks, and J.R. Smith appears to be the next priority, tweets Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer. The Rockets and Pelicans have expressed interest in Smith, according to O’Connor, who notes that both teams need to fortify their wing depth.
Smith hasn’t played since an “amicable” breakup with the Cavs on November 20, and his representatives are working with the team to find a trade. He fell victim to a youth movement in Cleveland and saw his playing time cut to about 20 minutes per night in the 11 games he has gotten into this season.
In addition to his considerable playoff experience, Smith’s contract beyond this season could make him attractive to a contender. He has just a $3.87MM guarantee on his $15.68MM salary for 2019/20, so there is limited long-term risk in acquiring him.
There’s more today out of Cleveland:
- The Cavaliers who played alongside Matthew Dellavedova during his first stint in Cleveland are thrilled to welcome him back, relays Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. Reacquired from the Bucks in the Hill trade, Dellavedova was admired by his teammates for his intensity and competitiveness. “I think of his toughness and his ability to change the pace of the game and his familiarity,” Channing Frye said. “He’s a champion, consummate professional, good for our locker room.”
- Coach Larry Drew’s decision to put Hill back into the starting lineup when he returned from a shoulder injury may have helped raise his trade value, Fedor suggests in the same piece. Drew has been experimenting with rookie guard Collin Sexton in an off-the-ball role and wanted Hill beside him to run the offense. The move showed the Bucks that Hill was fully healed and able to contribute.
- Dellavedova will inherit Hill’s role as Sexton’s mentor, Fedor writes in a separate story. Those who remember Dellavedova’s spirited practice sessions with Kyrie Irving expect Sexton to get the same experience. “He will be good for Collin on the days that we do practice, he will be good for Collin because of the way he plays, how scrappy he is,” Tristan Thompson said. “When he gets in, it’s those kinds of plays that he makes, it’s momentum swings and high energy so we will definitely embrace that.”
Here are Thursday’s assignments and recalls from around the NBA:
- The Celtics assigned rookie forward Robert Williams to the Maine Red Claws, announcing the news in a tweet. Williams has appeared in nine games with Boston on the season and was drafted by the team 27th overall in June.
- The Jazz recalled rookie Grayson Allen from the Salt Lake City Stars, G League affiliate of the team. Allen has played 14 games with Utah and is averaging 4.6 points in 10.5 minutes per contest.
- The Hawks assigned guard/forward Daniel Hamilton to their G League affiliate, the Erie Bayhawks, announcing the transaction on social media. Hamilton, 23, has played just two games with Atlanta so far this season.
- The Wizards assigned Troy Brown Jr. and Okaro White to the Capital City Go-Go, according to a tweet from the team’s social media account. Both players were available for Thursday’s game against Delaware.
- The Lakers recalled Isaac Bonga from the South Bay Lakers, the team announced in a press release. Bonga has averaged 14 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.5 assists in 12 games with South Bay.
- The Grizzlies have assigned Jevon Carter and Ivan Rabb to their G League affiliate, the Memphis Hustle, according to a tweet from the team’s PR department.
- The Pelicans recalled rookie forward Kenrich Williams from the Westchester Knicks, the team announced via press release. Williams has averaged 13.4 points and 11.6 rebounds in his past two games with Westchester.
- The Magic assigned Melvin Frazier Jr. to the Lakeland Magic of the NBA G League, according to a tweet from their PR department. Orlando drafted Frazier Jr. with the No. 35 pick last June.
DECEMBER 5: The Pelicans have officially signed Harrison to his two-way contract, per a press release from the team.
Harrison has played in 139 NBA games to date. He’s averaging 7.2 points and 2.8 assists per contest while shooting 37.5% from the field.
If Seattle has any chance to get any NBA team before then, it would likely have to be via relocation rather than expansion, Helin continues. Still, while there has been some speculation about the long-term viability of the Grizzlies and Pelicans in Memphis and New Orleans, respectively, no NBA franchises – including those two teams – appear to be in any imminent danger of leaving their current towns.
Here are Tuesday’s G League assignments and recalls from across the NBA:
- The Jazz have recalled Grayson Allen and Georges Niang from the Salt Lake City Stars, according to the team’s Twitter feed. It was each player’s only G League assignment of the season.
- Jevon Carter and Ivan Rabb had an eventful day. The Grizzlies assigned the pair to their G League affiliate, the Memphis Hustle for morning shootaround, per the team’s Twitter feed. The two were then recalled for the Grizzlies’ mid-day practice before being re-assigned to the Hustle to play in their night game.
- The Pelicans have assigned Frank Jackson to the G League, according to a team press release. New Orleans doesn’t yet have its own affiliate, so Jackson will play for the Texas Legends, pursuant to the flexible assignment system.
- The Pacers have recalled Alize Johnson from the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, per the team’s website. Johnson has been with the G League affiliate since November 7.
- The Nets have assigned Dzanan Musa to their G League affiliate, the Long Island Nets, according to the team’s Twitter feed.
Several Western Conference playoff teams from last season, including the Jazz, Rockets, Spurs, and Timberwolves, rank outside the top eight in the conference in the early going this season. While all four of those teams would be disappointed to miss the postseason, you could make a case that a lottery finish wouldn’t be quite as devastating for any of those clubs as it would be for the Pelicans, who also find themselves on the outside looking in for now.
The 12-13 Pelicans currently place 11th in the West, with a tough road ahead. In order to crack the top eight, they’ll need to surpass overachieving clubs ahead of them – like the Mavericks and Kings – while holding off would-be contenders behind them, such as the Jazz and Rockets. And they’ll have to do with the uncertainty surrounding Anthony Davis‘ future hanging over the season.
While Davis can’t become a free agent until at least 2020, this is a crucial season for the Pelicans. Next summer, they’ll be able to offer Davis a designated veteran extension, paying him the “super-max.” If he turns down that offer, the Pelicans will likely have to start thinking seriously about whether to trade their star big man.
That sort of thinking is premature for now. As Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders reports, sources say that Davis is happy in New Orleans and wants to win there. However, Kyler also cautions that Davis won’t be satisfied with simply finishing in eighth place in the West and failing to make a deep playoff run — he’s counting on the team to do all it can to improve the roster and to give him reason to believe he can eventually win a title with the Pelicans.
In other words, there’s plenty of pressure on the Pelicans to add reinforcements to this year’s roster and/or to position themselves to make a major splash in the offseason. And missing out on the playoffs this season would be a huge red flag for the organization.
With all that in mind, we want to know what you think about the Pelicans’ outlook this season. Is this a playoff team? Will they need to make a trade or two to nab a top-eight spot? And how will this year’s outcome impact Davis’ long-term future?
Vote below in our poll, then head to the comment section to weigh in on the Pelicans!
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