New Orleans Pelicans

Injury Notes: A. Davis, Thomas, Porzingis, Wall

Earlier today, we passed on the news that Sixers guard Markelle Fultz in making progress with his shoulder ailment. Here are a few more injury notes involving some of the NBA’s top players:

  • Pelicans forward Anthony Davis has cleared the concussion protocol and is probable for Monday’s game, tweets Scott Kushner of The Advocate. Davis was diagnosed with a contusion of the orbit bone above his right eye after a collision the third quarter of Friday night’s contest. He was removed from the game and didn’t re-enter.
  • Cavaliers guard Isaiah Thomas participated in some five-on-zero drills and worked on his shot today in practice, relays Joe Vardon of (Twitter link).
  • Knicks forward Kristaps Porzingis has swelling in his elbow caused by bursitis, but says it isn’t the reason for his recent shooting problems, according to Ian Begley of ESPN (Twitter link). “At the end of last season, it was really swollen; it was really, really big,” he said of the elbow. “But it was never really bothering me. Now this season, kind of fell on it a couple of times. It wasn’t bothering me either. In Sacramento, I fell kind of on the side. It was a new spot. It was much more sensitive. Now I’m doing treatment. Today’s the day I’m almost back to normal. I almost don’t feel it at all anymore.”
  • Wizards guard John Wall will miss today’s game with soreness in his left knee, tweets Candace Buckner of The Washington Post.
  • Warriors forward Kevin Durant suffered a sprained ankle last night and will sit out today’s game in Brooklyn, tweets Warriors PR.

Pelicans Different With Rondo

  • A healthy Rajon Rondo will turn the Pelicans into a different team, claims Bryan Kalbrosky of HoopsHype. Rondo returned this week from a sports hernia and made an immediate impact with 8 assists in 14 minutes in his first game in the starting lineup.

2018 Salary Cap Outlook: Southwest Division

NBA rosters will undergo some changes over the course of the 2017/18 season, particularly around the trade deadline, and those changes may have an impact on teams’ cap sheets for future seasons. Based on the NBA’s current rosters, however, we can identify which teams are most and least likely to have cap room in the summer of 2018, which will dictate the type of moves those clubs can make in the offseason.

We’re taking a closer look at each of the NBA’s 30 teams by division this week. Today, we’re finishing up our series with the Southwest division. With the help of salary information compiled by Basketball Insiders, here’s how the summer of 2018 is shaping up for the five Southwest teams:

Memphis GrizzliesMarc Gasol vertical
Guaranteed 2018/19 team salary: $101,105,736
Projection: Over the cap

Mike Conley, Chandler Parsons, and Marc Gasol will earn a combined $78MM+ in 2018/19, so unless the Grizzlies trade one of those players, the team is extremely unlikely to create any meaningful cap space. If Memphis struggles and misses the playoffs this season, I could see trade rumors surrounding Gasol begin to intensify, but for now, we’re assuming the Grizzlies will begin the 2018 offseason over the projected $101MM salary cap.

New Orleans Pelicans
Guaranteed 2018/19 team salary: $91,577,138
Projection: Over the cap

With nearly $92MM committed to just seven players, the Pelicans would need to account for cap charges for five empty roster spots. Once those cap charges are added to team salary, New Orleans is left with about $5MM in potential cap room, which is less than the value of the mid-level exception. So even if the Pelicans don’t end up keeping DeMarcus Cousins‘ cap hold on their books to try to re-sign him, they’ll likely function as an over-the-cap club.

San Antonio Spurs
Guaranteed 2018/19 team salary: $78,410,994
Projection: Up to approximately $18MM in cap room

It wouldn’t be a surprise if the Spurs ultimately don’t have any cap room at their disposal for 2018. The team has three veterans holding player options, in Danny Green ($10MM), Rudy Gay ($8.8MM), and Joffrey Lauvergne ($1.7MM), as well as three potential restricted free agents (Kyle Anderson, Davis Bertans, and Bryn Forbes).

It’s entirely possible that all three of those players with options turn them down, and it’s also within reason that the Spurs will let their RFAs go. Still, I’d expect at least two or three of those six players to remain in San Antonio. And if guys like Green and Gay are among those returnees, either on their options or on new contracts, then the Spurs’ cap space will evaporate in a hurry.

Houston Rockets
Guaranteed 2018/19 team salary: $78,123,448
Projection: Up to approximately $18MM in cap room

Like the Spurs, the Rockets could create a modest amount of cap room by parting ways with all their potential free agents, but the more likely scenario will see them stay over the cap. Chris Paul, Clint Capela, and Trevor Ariza will be among the most coveted free agents in the NBA, and re-signing even one of the three would likely take Houston over the cap, or close to it. Re-signing two, or all three, could push Houston into luxury-tax territory.

Dallas Mavericks
Guaranteed 2018/19 team salary: $41,269,318
Projection: Up to approximately $35MM in cap room

Based on their current team salary projections for 2018/19, the Mavericks could theoretically create up to $53MM in cap space. However, that’s probably an unrealistic estimate, since it doesn’t include Wesley Matthews‘ $18.6MM player option.

The 31-year-old guard has failed to make more than 40% of his field goal attempts in any of his three seasons with the Mavs, and his .359 FG% so far this season is his worst mark yet. He’s also averaging just 11.2 PPG despite playing 34.6 minutes per contest. Simply put, Matthews isn’t going to find an $18MM salary on the open market if he turns down his option.

As such, our projection for the Mavs assumes that Matthews will exercise that option, which still leaves Dallas with about $35MM in cap room. That would be more than enough to bring back Seth Curry and Dirk Nowitzki – if he doesn’t retire – and still have space left over.


Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Rondo Expected To Make Pelicans Debut

Point guard Rajon Rondo is scheduled to make his Pelicans debut Monday against the Hawks, William Guillory of the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports. Coach Alvin Gentry said Rondo would likely be limited to six minutes of action, Guillory adds.

Rondo missed the first 13 games of the season after undergoing surgery for a sports hernia during the preseason. New Orleans signed Rondo to a one-year, $3.3MM free agent contract to be their starting point guard, with Jrue Holiday sliding over to the shooting guard spot. Holiday has mainly been playing the point in Rondo’s absence.

Rondo’s return is expected to eventually cut into the playing time of E’Twaun Moore and two other longtime veterans, Tony Allen and Jameer Nelson.

Rajon Rondo Expected to Return Soon

The Pelicans won’t have to wait much longer for Rajon Rondo‘s season debut, tweets Scott Kushner of The Advocate. Coach Alvin Gentry told reporters tonight that he expects Rondo to be ready in about a week to 10 days. Rondo underwent surgery for a sports hernia on October 10 and was projected to be sidelined four to six weeks. He was expected to take over at point guard after signing with New Orleans in July.

  • Tony Allen was held out of tonight’s game with left knee inflammation, but the Pelicans were prepared for occasional absences when they signed the 35-year-old guard, writes William Guillory of The Times-Picayune. Gentry called the condition minor and said it shouldn’t be a long-term concern for Allen. “It’s going to be that way throughout the season,” Gentry said. “He’s got a lot of years and a lot of miles on him. There’s going to be little hurts and pains that may keep him out a game or so, but it’s not anything that I’d spend any time worrying about.” Allen has been a valuable reserve for New Orleans, averaging 4.8 points and 2.2 rebounds in 12 games.

Pelicans Waive Josh Smith

The Pelicans have waived veteran forward Josh Smith, according to Shams Charania of The Vertical (Twitter link). The move reduces New Orleans’ roster count from 16 to 15, since the team made use of a hardship exception to initially sign Smith.

Smith, who will turn 32 next month, barely saw any action during his two weeks with the Pelicans, appearing in three games and playing just 12 total minutes. New Orleans had added him using an extra roster spot the club was granted due to having at least four players who had missed three or more games.

It’s not clear if any of the injured Pelicans players are on the verge of returning. Based on recovery timetables announced by the team, Frank Jackson and Solomon Hill will likely be out for a while yet, but Rajon Rondo and Alexis Ajinca may be closer to getting back on the court. Omer Asik has also been sidelined this season due to health issues.

Smith, signed on October 28, received a non-guaranteed deal, so the Pelicans will only be on the hook for a small prorated portion of his minimum salary. The club will carry a cap hit of approximately $211K for Smith’s brief stint in New Orleans, as Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets.

Reggie Jackson Long Linked To Pelicans As Trade Target

Unless it actually happens, rumors of Reggie Jackson joining the Pelicans may persist for years to come. A reported three-team deal that would have sent Suns’ point guard Eric Bledsoe to the Pistons and Jackson to the Pelicans fell through this week. As Bryan Kalborsky of HoopsHype writes, interest in Jackson by people within the Pelicans organization goes back to the 2014/15 season.

Pelicans’ assistant coach Darren Erman was the Celtics’ director of NBA scouting during the 2o14/15 campaign. Boston reportedly had interest in Jackson that trade deadline, according to MassLive. Fast forward two years, Jackson has been connected to New Orleans in some form since February of this year. In mid-June, the Pistons and Pelicans discussed a deal that would send Jackson to New Orleans for E’Twaun Moore and Alexis Ajinca, per Basketball Insiders.

The Pelicans have since re-signed Jrue Holliday to a long-term contract, have veteran Rajon Rondo on the shelf, and recently added Jameer NelsonJackson, still just 27 years old, may remain on the Pelicans’ radar until he’s actually wearing their uniform at some point in the future.

Rajon Rondo Talks Return; Pelicans Need Perimeter Support

Offseason addition Rajon Rondo has stepped as one of the vocal leaders in the Pelicans locker room despite the fact that he hasn’t suited up for a single game this season, William Guillory of The Times-Picayune writes.

The 31-year-old playmaker will slot into a frontcourt-heavy Pelicans lineup that could benefit from reinforcements on the perimeter. That doesn’t mean the veteran is going to rush back from the core muscle injury that has sidelined him since undergoing surgery in mid-October.

I wake up and I feel pretty good everyday. We take for granted that we can get out of bed on the regular, for the couple weeks I was down, I couldn’t. I’m just happy I can get out of bed without having assistance or not having to roll over to my side and get up,” the Pelicans guard said.

Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry mentioned November 17 as a possible return date but Rondo will be particularly cautious about making his debut. “I want to play the rest of the [season]. I don’t want to come back and play two games, then I’m sitting out for another two weeks,” he said.

  • Shaky perimeter play has limited the Pelicans this season, William Guillory of The Times-Picayune writes, and that was on display yet again this week. The team has struggled in 2017/18 in part because they rely too heavily on their star-studded frontcourt for offense.
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