The Pelicans intend to own and operate an NBA D-League franchise starting in 2018/19, and have received preliminary proposals from six cities in or near Louisiana, the team announced today in a press release. Representatives from those six locations will have until June 7 to submit a “complete and comprehensive proposal” for a D-League team to the Pelicans.
The six cities to express interest in housing the Pelicans’ new D-League affiliate are Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Jackson, Mississippi; Mobile, Alabama; Pensacola, Florida; St. Tammany Parish, LA; and Shreveport, LA.
“We are excited to the see the excitement which this process has generated among the six locations,” Pelicans owner Tom Benson said in a statement. “All of them have stepped forward with legitimate and sincere interest and are going to make a case via their proposals for why they would like to be the home of our NBA G League team in 2018-2019. The process is underway and we know that this will be a very significant addition for a city/parish near us as it will add global exposure and bring professional basketball to their town.”
The Pelicans initially announced in late March that they intend to launch a D-League affiliate to begin play for the 2018/19 season. By that time, of course, the league will have re-branded itself — it’s set to become the “G-League” later this year in honor of its partnership with Gatorade.
At the time of New Orleans’ initial announcement, the organization indicated that it would send a Request for Proposal to 11 cities, including seven in Lousiana and four in nearby states. It appears that about half of those cities responded to the Pelicans’ request, showing interest in landing a team. We should hear more in the coming months about which locations are the frontrunners to host the Pelicans’ NBADL affiliate.
With the Pelicans poised to acquire a D-League club of their own, the only NBA teams without an affiliate – or a plan in place to add one – are the Nuggets, Clippers, Trail Blazers, and Wizards.
The Pelicans will look to add outside shooting this offseason, John Reid of The Times-Picayune relays.
”We’re going to look at all options,” GM Dell Demps said. ”We’re going to be broad in our search to find the best possible outcome for the season. Obviously shooting, I think that’s the big importance. We have to be creative and you know putting the right mix around those guys is going to be important.”
Reid names J.J. Redick, Kyle Korver, Andre Iguodala and P.J. Tucker among the unrestricted free agents who could be a fit in New Orleans. It’s worth noting that Iguodala coming to Louisiana is unlikely, as the Warriors plan on keeping him in Golden State beyond this season.
Here’s more from the Southwest Division:
- Clint Capela is both a long-term project and a key piece to the Rockets‘ chances at success this postseason, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle writes. The center scored 14 points in Game 1 against the Thunder and protected the rim with great defense. The big man is eligible for rookie scale extension this offseason.
- Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com believes the Mavericks will have trouble landing marquee free agents while Dirk Nowitzki is still on the team (h/t The Dallas Morning News). The analyst compares Nowitzki’s situation to Kobe Bryant‘s in that it’s hard to build a winning roster around an aging superstar who’s getting paid like a current one.
The Pelicans weren’t able to achieve their goal of making the playoffs this season, but GM Dell Demps believes the team is on the right path to reach that pinnacle.
“We have positioned ourselves well for the future,” Demps said (via Jeff Duncan of The Times-Picayune). “We believe the future is bright. … One of our goals this season was to improve on defense and we did that (from 28th to 8th in defensive efficiency). And there was a time after the All-Star break where our offense started to gel and play better, and we were still playing good defense. So that gives us hope that this team is headed in the right direction.”
Here’s more from New Orleans:
- The Pelicans want to bring Jrue Holiday back, but understand that the point guard has to weigh his options, as Justin Verrier of ESPN.com relays (Twitter link). “We love Jrue. We love his family. Obviously, we’d like to have him back. He’s got a tough decision to make. We’re going to let that process play out,” Demps said.
- Demps described the status of the team’s coaching staff as in “evaluation mode,” but added that he likes the direction in which the team is heading, Verrier passes along via Twitter.
- Coach Alvin Gentry hasn’t spoken to ownership about his future in New Orleans yet, Scott Kushner of The Advocate relays (Twitter links). In reference to successfully incorporating DeMarcus Cousins, Gentry said that he “doesn’t think [the team is] going to have to change that much.”
- Demps believes the Pelicans are set up well for the future and a major reason why is the Cousins trade, Kushner adds (Twitter links). New Orleans had a record of 7-10 after making the deal, but Demps blames the lack of success on the big man’s health, explaining that the center played with a sore Achilles post All-Star break.
With the NBA’s 2016/17 regular season now in the books, the odds for this year’s draft lottery have been set. With the help of our Reverse Standings, as well as information from LotteryBucket.com, here is the 2017 lottery order, along with each team’s chances of landing a top pick:
- Boston Celtics (via Brooklyn Nets)
- No. 1: 25.0%
- Top-3: 64.3%
- Lowest pick: No. 4
- Note: Celtics acquire pick due to ability to swap first-round picks with Nets.
- Phoenix Suns
- No. 1: 19.9%
- Top-3: 55.8%
- Lowest pick: No. 5
- Los Angeles Lakers
- No. 1: 15.6%
- Top-3: 46.9%
- Lowest pick: No. 6
- Note: Pick will be sent to Sixers if not in top 3 (odds: 53.1%).
- Philadelphia 76ers
- No. 1: 14.7%
- Top-3: 45.3%
- Lowest pick: No. 7
- Note: Sixers have right to swap picks with Kings, so their No. 1 and top-3 odds are a little higher than they otherwise would be. No. 1 and top-3 odds for Sixers’ own pick are 11.9% and 37.8%, respectively.
- Orlando Magic
- No. 1: 8.8%
- Top-3: 29.12%
- Lowest pick: No. 8
- Minnesota Timberwolves
- No. 1: 5.3%
- Top-3: 18.3%
- Lowest pick: No. 9
- Note: Timberwolves won tiebreaker with Knicks.
- New York Knicks
- No. 1: 5.3%
- Top-3: 18.2%
- Lowest pick: No. 10
- Note: Knicks lost tiebreaker with Timberwolves.
- Sacramento Kings
- No. 1: N/A
- Top-3: 2.5%
- Lowest pick: No. 11
- Note: Sixers have right to swap picks with Kings, rendering No. 1 pick impossible and greatly reducing odds of top-3 pick.
- Note: Pick will be sent to Bulls if not in top 10 (odds: 0.01%).
- Dallas Mavericks
- No. 1: 1.7%
- Top-3: 6.1%
- Lowest pick: No. 12
- New Orleans Pelicans
- No. 1: 1.1%
- Top-3: 4.0%
- Lowest pick: No. 13
- Note: Pick will be sent to Kings if not in top 3 (odds: 96.0%).
- Charlotte Hornets
- No. 1: 0.8%
- Top-3: 2.9%
- Lowest pick: No. 14
- Detroit Pistons
- No. 1: 0.7%
- Top-3: 2.5%
- Lowest pick: No. 14
- Denver Nuggets
- No. 1: 0.6%
- Top-3: 2.2%
- Lowest pick: No. 14
- Miami Heat
- No. 1: 0.5%
- Top-3: 1.8%
- Lowest pick: No. 14
APRIL 10, 2:31pm: The Pelicans have officially signed Toupane for the rest of the season, the team announced today in a press release. While there’s no indication in the club’s announcement that Toupane’s deal is for more than one year, RealGM’s transactions log suggests it’s a multiyear pact. That makes sense, since contracts signed at this time of year typically included a non-guaranteed second season.
The 24-year-old forward had previously signed a 10-day contract with the Bucks in February, but after two games of action was released so that the team could make room for Terrence Jones.
Last season, Toupane played 21 games for the Nuggets and averaged 3.6 points per game.
Here are Monday’s D-League assignments and recalls from around the NBA:
- The Rockets have sent rookie forward Kyle Wiltjer back to the D-League, the team announced today (via Twitter). As noted below, Wiltjer was recalled to Houston earlier today, but it appears it was just for practice purposes. By rejoining the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, Wiltjer will get a chance to play in the team’s playoff game tonight against the L.A. D-Fenders.
- According to RealGM’s transactions log, the Celtics have assigned Jordan Mickey to the Maine Red Claws, the Lakers have assigned David Nwaba to the L.A. D-Fenders, and the Pelicans have sent Axel Toupane to the Raptors 905. Mickey and Nwaba will be in action tonight, while Toupane’s team is awaiting the winner of the Maine/Fort Wayne series.
- The Cavaliers have recalled rookie guard Kay Felder from the D-League, the team announced today in a press release. The Canton Charge’s season came to an end over the weekend, so Felder would’ve likely been back with the Cavs either way, but it’s worth noting that he could see some action for Cleveland tonight, with Kyrie Irving and LeBron James among the regulars expected to rest.
- The Rockets have recalled forward Kyle Wiltjer from the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, according to the team (Twitter link). Houston has the No. 3 seed in the West locked up, so Wiltjer could get some playing time this week if regulars rest. However, if he remains with the Rockets through tonight, the rookie sharpshooter would miss the Vipers’ deciding first-round game against the Los Angeles D-Fenders in the D-League playoffs.
4:08pm: The signing is official, the Pelicans announced on their website.
In six games with the Pels, Cook has averaged just 2.7 points in 6.0 minutes per game but this latest stint with the franchise isn’t the undrafted rookie’s first in New Orleans. In September, Cook was signed by the team but ultimately released prior to the start of the regular season.
The 24-year-old had previously inked a 10-day contract with the Mavericks in February.
Having been eliminated from the playoffs, the Pelicans will regroup and focus on 2017/18, Justin Verrier of ESPN writes. As Alvin Gentry notes, the Pels will benefit from Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins having a full preseason to learn how to play off one another.
“You can see he [Davis] and DeMarcus are going to be fine together,” Gentry said. “You put them in a training camp and you’re able to really hone in on what you want to do and how they can play together. They can be very, very effective. I think we have a chance to move forward.”
Aside from questions surrounding Jrue Holiday‘s free agency, the Pelicans will also have to sort out a roster shuffled by the Cousins trade. Over the season’s remaining four games, Verrier points out, the Pels would be best served to showcase Cheick Diallo and Quinn Cook over their frontcourt veterans.
More from around the Southwest…
- Mavs coach Rick Carlisle isn’t sure Seth Curry will return by the end of the regular season, Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News reports. Depending on the condition of Curry’s left shoulder, the team could shut down the former Blue Devil. “Seth’s doing all right,” Carlisle said. “I’m not sure at this point (about him playing in the final three games). It’s not something that we just rubber stamp and send him back out there. I hope he can play a couple of games, but if it’s not the right thing, he won’t do it.”
- Ryan Anderson will play limited minutes in tonight’s matchup with Detroit, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle reports. An ankle injury had sidelined Anderson for Houston’s last six games. As the postseason nears, Anderson is eager to get back on track. “I’m going to play limited minutes, but that’s the plan,” Anderson told Feigen. “I’m excited about it. I feel strong. I feel good. I feel ready to go. It’s going to take a game or two to get back. That’s why we have these last few games to get ready and get mentally prepared for the playoffs, and physically.”
- The Pelicans not having a designated D-League affiliate resulted in an “unorthodox” year of development for Diallo. A former Kansas Jayhawks standout, Cheick was assigned to the D-League seven times, playing for three different teams in 2016/17. “I just want to play, you know?” Diallo told Scott Kushner of The Advocate. “I go to any place and I don’t even know the coaches or the players on some of these D-League teams. Sometimes I didn’t even know where I was, whether in North Carolina or Texas or wherever. I just know the D-Leagues helped me a lot and it would help anyone a lot.”
- Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry believes his club can be a serious playoff contender next season if it re-signs unrestricted free agent point guard Jrue Holiday, William Guillory of the New Orleans Times-Picayune writes. Gentry is brimming with optimism that the trio of Holiday, DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis can succeed after seeing the team go 8-5 over the past 13 games. “I think we’re light years ahead of where we were,” Gentry told Guillory. “We’ve got arguably two of the best 10 players in the NBA. Then you add Jrue to the mix, and hopefully that’s going to be somebody we can keep on our team, you’ve got guys that are a year older playing (together).”