New Orleans Pelicans

Pelicans Sign Jameer Nelson To One-Year Deal

Oct. 22: The Pels have officially signed Nelson, the team announced in a press release.

Oct. 21: The Pelicans have reached an agreement on a one-year deal with free agent point guard Jameer Nelson, reports Shams Charania of The Vertical. Nelson was on the open market for less than 24 hours, having cleared waivers on Friday evening after being cut this week by the Nuggets.Jameer Nelson vertical

Nelson, 35, has 13 years of NBA experience under his belt, with stints in Orlando, Dallas, Boston, and Denver. Most recently, he appeared in 148 games over the last two and a half seasons for the Nuggets, providing some stability at the point guard position as the club looked to incorporate youngsters Emmanuel Mudiay and Jamal Murray.

After struggling in 2015/16, Nelson bounced back last season, averaging 9.2 PPG and 5.1 APG in 75 games (39 starts) for the Nuggets. However, with Denver intent on adding Richard Jefferson this week, Nelson was the odd man out when the club needed to open up a roster spot.

Upon clearing waivers, Nelson reportedly drew interest from the Rockets, Nets, and Hornets in addition to the Pelicans. All four of those clubs are dealing with injuries at the point guard spot. In New Orleans’ case, it’s Rajon Rondo on the shelf, recovering from sports hernia surgery.

Rondo is expected to return to the court next month, but Nelson may remain in the Pelicans’ rotation at that point. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported earlier today that the veteran point guard was seeking an opportunity where he’d have a chance to play a significant role, so presumably New Orleans doesn’t just view him as an interim solution.

The Pelicans don’t currently have an open spot on their roster, so they’ll need to trade or waive a player if they intend to finalize Nelson’s deal right away. If New Orleans waits until after its third game, the team would become eligible for a hardship exception and would be granted a 16th roster spot to sign Nelson without cutting anyone.

Hardship exceptions are awarded to clubs carrying at least four players who have missed three or more consecutive games due to injury or illness. Rondo, Alexis Ajinca, Frank Jackson, Omer Asik, and Solomon Hill will all fit that bill for the Pelicans.

Meanwhile, it’s also worth keeping an eye on the tax line and the hard cap for the Pelicans. Adding Nelson on a fully guaranteed deal without waiving anyone would take New Orleans into the tax and move the team dangerously close to its hard cap.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Pelicans Waive Jordan Crawford

Oct. 22: The Pelicans officially waived Crawford today, the team announced in a press release.

Oct. 21, 4:27pm: The Pelicans asked the NBA to guarantee that their request for an injury exception would be granted before signing Nelson, tweets Adrian Wojanarowski of ESPN. When that appeal was denied, New Orleans had to waive a player before Nelson could be added to the roster.

3:24pm: The Pelicans are waiving guard Jordan Crawford, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link). Crawford’s contract is only partially guaranteed for $250K, so most of his salary will come off New Orleans’ cap.

Today’s agreement with Jameer Nelson would have pushed the Pelicans into the luxury tax, but letting Crawford go will allow them to sneak back under the tax threshold and will provide some breathing room below the hard cap. New Orleans will actually create a small amount of savings through the two transactions due to Crawford’s $1.7MM cap hit, as Bobby Marks of ESPN details.

New Orleans could have waited until after tomorrow’s game to apply for a hardship exception in order to sign Nelson. Due to mounting injuries, the Pelicans will still be eligible for the exception, which would allow them to add a 16th player, but it’s not clear whether or not take advantage of it.

Crawford, who will turn 29 on Monday, appeared in 21 total games during his stint with New Orleans at the end of last season and the start of this year. In those games, he averaged 13.6 PPG and 3.0 APG in just 22.6 minutes per contest. He’ll reach free agency early next week, assuming he clears waivers.

Pelicans Notes: Crawford, Cousins, Allen, Rondo

The Pelicans would have preferred not to lose Jordan Crawford, who was waived today to make room for Jameer Nelson, tweets Shams Charania of The Vertical. Crawford, who originally signed with New Orleans in March, was fitting in well in a reserve role. He was effective in the preseason and was averaging 9.0 points and 3.5 assists in the Pelicans’ first two regular season games.

Crawford had the misfortune of owning the only contract on the roster that wasn’t fully guaranteed. New Orleans will only owe him $250K, and that will be wiped out if he is claimed off waivers. The team saves a little bit on the two transactions, as Nelson’s veterans minimum salary is less than Crawford’s $1.7MM cap hit. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweets that the Pelicans, who have been hit hard by injuries in the early going, tried to get assurance from the league that they will be granted an injury exception after their third game Sunday night, allowing them to add an extra player. When that request was denied, they had no choice but to waive Crawford.

There’s more today out of New Orleans:

  • DeMarcus Cousins was fined $25K for an altercation with a fan Wednesday in Memphis, the league announced on its website. The fine was for “directing inappropriate language towards a fan” in an incident near the end of the game. A technical foul assessed against Cousins was rescinded.
  • Former Grizzlies guard Tony Allen admitted to being nervous as he returned to Memphis for the Pelicans’ season opener, relays Mark Giannotto of The Commercial-Appeal. Allen still has fondness for the city where he helped to create the “grit and grind” culture over the past seven seasons. “I had so many jitters in my body. Butterflies,” Allen said. “Whatever you want to call it, I was a little nervous. But I’m glad they got that over with. It’s a lot of love for the city, a lot of love for the fans. I appreciate that.”
  • Rajon Rondo may not be guaranteed a starting spot when he recovers from sports hernia surgery, writes Jeff Duncan of NOLA.com in a look at 10 questions surrounding the team. Jrue Holiday will resume point guard duties while Rondo is sidelined, and Duncan speculates that the Pelicans may not want to tinker with success if things go well without Rondo. Duncan adds that coach Alvin Gentry and GM Dell Demps will be reluctant to take any chances because they need the team to be successful to keep their jobs.

Jameer Nelson Clears Waivers, Drawing Interest

OCTOBER 21, 1:56pm: In addition to Houston, the Nets, Hornets, and Pelicans are all interested in Nelson, league sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link). Nelson is looking for an opportunity that will allow him to play a significant role this season, Woj adds (via Twitter).

All four teams linked to Nelson are dealing with injuries at the point guard position, with Jeremy Lin, Michael Carter-Williams, and Rajon Rondo currently sidelined for Brooklyn, Charlotte, and New Orleans, respectively.

OCTOBER 20, 5:19pm: Veteran point guard Jameer Nelson has cleared waivers after being released by the Nuggets and the 35-year-old has already been contacted by a number of NBA teams, Chris Haynes of ESPN tweets.

One possible landing spot for the 13-year vet is Houston. Given that the Rockets may be particularly cautious with Chris Paul‘s knee injury and potentially seek a temporary replacement, Nelson could possibly slot in until Paul fully recovers.

Haynes mentioned Houston specifically as one of the teams with whom Nelson’s representation has been in touch. The Rockets currently roster just 14 players, so they’d be able to add Nelson without any other moves.

What’s more, as Bobby Marks of ESPN writes, Houston is $2.8MM below the luxury tax, giving them just enough space to sign Nelson to a $2.3MM veteran’s minimum deal without consequence. That sort of deal would only count for a prorated portion of $1.471MM against the Rockets’ cap.

Pelicans’ Alexis Ajinca Expected To Miss 4-6 Weeks

Pelicans center Alexis Ajinca is expected to be sidelined for the next four to six weeks after undergoing successful bilateral knee injections on Thursday, the team announced today in a press release. The Pelicans classify Ajinca’s knee ailment as patellar tendonitis.

Ajinca, 29, battled injuries last season as well and also fell out of the rotation for stretches — he appeared in just 39 games (15 starts). Ajinca was a solid contributor when he played, averaging 5.3 PPG and 4.5 RPG for the Pelicans in 15.0 minutes per contest, but expressed some frustrations with his role.

With Ajinca and fellow big man Omer Asik sidelined, we got a glimpse in the Pelicans’ opener on Wednesday what the frontcourt rotation might look like for the club. Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins will, of course, see significant minutes up front, with Dante Cunningham and Cheick Diallo also worked into the mix.

The Pelicans may apply for a hardship exception, which would grant the club an extra roster spot, following their third game of the season. Teams that have at least four players who have missed three or more games due to injury or illness are eligible to apply for the exception. Currently, Ajinca, Asik, Rajon Rondo, Solomon Hill, and Frank Jackson are all on the shelf for New Orleans.

With team salary inching close to the tax line and the hard cap, the Pelicans will have to decide if it’s worth it to add some extra depth this early in the season.

Rockets, Knicks, Pelicans Eyeing Wade Baldwin

The Rockets, Knicks, and Pelicans are among the teams with some level of interest in point guard Wade Baldwin, according to Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News (Twitter link). The Timberwolves, Wolfson’s local team, haven’t shown interest in Baldwin at this point.

Baldwin, a Vanderbilt alum, was the 17th overall pick in the 2016 draft and spent his rookie season with the Grizzlies. After 33 up-and-down games with the club, Baldwin was a somewhat surprising victim of the roster crunch in Memphis on Monday, with the team waiving him and fellow 2016 draftee Rade Zagorac to get down to the 15-man limit.

Although Baldwin struggled to adjust to the NBA in his rookie season, he’s still just 21 years old, so there will likely be clubs that view him as a project with some upside.

Currently, Baldwin remains on waivers. If a team wanted to claim him, that club would need to be willing to take on his $1.874MM guaranteed salary for 2017/18, and would need to have enough cap space – or a big enough trade exception – to accommodate that money. It’s more likely that Baldwin will clear waivers and perhaps sign a minimum salary deal with a new team.

If Baldwin doesn’t receive an NBA offer, he could end up playing overseas or in the G League, either on a two-way contract or a straight G League deal. Nine NBA teams have at least one open two-way slot at the moment.

Pelicans Waive Perry Jones, Cliff Alexander

The Pelicans have made a pair of cuts, according to Scott Kushner of The Advocate, who reports (via Twitter) that the club has waived Perry Jones and Cliff Alexander.

Jones, a former Thunder first-round pick, got off to a decent start in the preseason for the Pelicans, picking up 10 points and seven rebounds against his old team in Oklahoma City. However, in his next two games, Perry went scoreless in 17 total minutes.

A Kansas product, Alexander averaged 2.0 PPG and 3.8 RPG in limited minutes in four preseason games.

The Pelicans are now at 17 players, with 15 on NBA contracts and two on two-way deals, so they’re all set for the regular season. Since New Orleans doesn’t have a G League affiliate, Jones and Alexander will have to look elsewhere for opportunities.

E'Twaun Moore Probable To Start; Pensacola Likely Spot For G League Affiliate

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.

  • 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.

Rajon Rondo Has Surgery, Out 4-6 Weeks

Pelicans point guard Rajon Rondo will be sidelined four to six weeks after undergoing surgery for a sports hernia, tweets Shams Charania of The Vertical.

The 31-year-old had a meeting Monday with a specialist, who determined that an operation was necessary. Rondo suffered the injury Friday in a game against Oklahoma City.

Rondo’s absence is a setback for New Orleans, which signed him over the summer to a one-year, $3.3MM deal to run an offense featuring All-Star big men Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins. Jrue Holiday will probably shift back to point guard in Rondo’s absence.

Rajon Rondo Suffers Sports Hernia

The Pelicans could be without Rajon Rondo to start the 2017/18 campaign. As William Guillory of The Times-Picayune writes, on Sunday it was announced that the veteran guard has suffered a sports hernia.

While Guillory says that the Pelicans won’t know whether their point guard needs surgery before he meets with a specialist on Monday, Scott Kushner of the New Orleans Advocate tweets that his sources say the initial expectation is that Rondo will miss about a month.

The Pelicans signed Rondo to a one-year deal in July, he is expected to serve as the club’s starting point guard with incumbent Jrue Holiday sliding over to the shooting guard position.

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