Pelicans Rumors

Pelicans Notes: Defense, Cousins, Mirotic

The Pelicans have the Trail Blazers against the ropes in their first-round playoff series thanks largely in part to their mid-season growth as a defensive force. The Pels have locked in on that side of the ball out of necessecity, William Guillory of The Times-Picayune writes.

Prior to the season-ending injury that sidelined DeMarcus Cousins, the Pelicans were an offense first team. Without the imposing superstar frontcourt, however, the team has had to find new ways to win.

The Pelicans have had the fourth best defensive rating in the NBA since February 1, not long after Cousins went down. Before that point, however, they ranked 23rd.

There’s more out of New Orleans:

  • Injured big man DeMarcus cousins sat on the sidelines when the Pelicans beat the Trail Blazers in Game 3 of their first-round series yesterday. As Mike Triplett of ESPN writes, the center received a predictable standing ovation.
  • After coming over to the Pelicans in a mid-season trade, Nikola Mirotic is raising his game. “He’s just been locked in, our guys really have a lot of confidence in him,” head coach Alvin Gentry told William Guillory of The Times-Picayune. “I think he’s in a good place now. He’s well aware of where he fits in with this team and what he’s capable of doing. It’s not just him shooting the ball, he’s made a lot of really good plays and some nice cuts.
  • In three playoff games this spring, 32-year-old Rajon Rondo is averaging 12.7 points and 12.3 assists per game. This isn’t the first time the crafty point guard has thrived in the postseason, something that ESPN’s NBA Twitter account was happy to point out.

Pelicans Are Getting What They Wanted From Jrue Holiday

  • In taking a 2-0 series lead over Portland, the Pelicans are getting the production they were counting on from Jrue Holiday when they re-signed him to a five-year, $126MM deal last summer, notes Mark Schwarz of ESPN. Holiday had 33 points and nine assists Tuesday as New Orleans won its second straight road game. “I may be a bit biased, but if you can tell me a better two-way player in the league right now, I’m willing to listen,” Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said. “But what we ask him to do and the things we ask him to do offensively, he was just great tonight.”

Community Shootaround: Possible First-Round Upsets

Game 1 is in the books for all eight of the NBA’s first-round playoff matchups, and several of those games set up potentially fascinating series. Six of the eight higher seeds held their home-court advantage in the first game, but some of those favorites looked a little shaky in their victories, leading to plenty of speculation about first-round upsets.

We’ll start with the weekend’s biggest upset, which took place in Cleveland, where the Pacers dismantled LeBron James and the Cavaliers in Game 1. It won’t be a surprise if the Cavs eventually pull out this series, but their 98-80 loss on Sunday was something we haven’t seen since James returned to Cleveland in 2014. In their last three first-round series, the Cavs have swept the Celtics, Pistons, and – one year ago – the Pacers.

Of course, these Pacers are a much different team than the squad swept out of the postseason a year ago. Victor Oladipo looked like the best player on the floor on Sunday, and players like Myles Turner, Bojan Bogdanovic, and Lance Stephenson looked great in supporting roles. This Pacers team was overlooked and underappreciated all season, and appear poised to give the Cavs all they can handle in round one.

The other Game 1 upset occurred in Portland, where the Pelicans edged out a two-point win over the Trail Blazers. Anthony Davis (35 points, 14 rebounds) was the best player on the court in that game, but Jrue Holiday‘s impact shouldn’t be understated. Besides posting 21 points and seven assists, Holiday also locked up Damian Lillard on the other end of the court — Lillard made just six of 23 shots.

The Pelicans don’t have a whole lot of standout talent behind Davis and Holiday, but Nikola Mirotic (16 points, 11 rebounds) stepped up as a reliable third option on Saturday. If he – or another Pelican – can continue to support Davis and Holiday throughout the series, New Orleans should have a chance.

Elsewhere, the Raptors, Rockets, and Thunder had to battle to the end to hold off the Wizards, Timberwolves, and Jazz, respectively, but came away with Game 1 victories. The Bucks pushed the Celtics to overtime before losing Eric Bledsoe and Giannis Antetokounmpo to foul problems and ultimately losing the game. None of those four favorites is a mortal lock to advance, though Houston is probably close.

The Warriors and Sixers took care of business with comfortable wins over the Spurs and Heat, respectively.

What do you think? Will we see an upset – or multiple upsets – in the first round of the postseason? Which lower-seeded teams do you think look like the best bets to advance to round two?

Head to the comment section below to share your thoughts!

2018 NBA Draft Order Tiebreaker Results

After a series of tiebreakers were conducted Friday night, the lottery odds for the NBA Draft have been finalized. Similarly, the draft order for teams outside of the lottery has been decided as well.

While a total of four two-way ties and one four-way tie were all broken by coin toss, the biggest winner of the night would have to be the Mavs who will now officially boast the third-greatest odds when the lottery is drawn on May 15.

Although the Hawks equaled Dallas in futility, both teams limited to 24 wins on the year, they’ll slot in one spot behind them at No. 4. That means, if neither team secures a top-three pick when the lottery results are revealed, they’ll just pick after them, the same as if they had won one more game. Both teams, however, will have nearly identical odds (13.7% versus 13.8%) of securing a top-three pick in the lottery.

The Bulls also won big today, edging out the Kings for the No. 6 spot. Sacramento will have an identical shot at landing at top-three pick, however.

The four-way tie between Utah, New Orleans, Oklahoma City and Indiana ended with the Thunder at No. 20, the Jazz at No. 21, the Pelicans at No. 22 and the Pacers at No. 23.

That Oklahoma City pick will head to Minnesota while the 22nd pick will go straight to the Bulls as part of the Nikola Mirotic deal.

The Heat won the tiebreaker for the the 16th pick, ahead of the Bucks, and will send that to Phoenix as part of the Goran Dragic trade back in 2015.

Milwaukee claiming the No. 17 pick is particularly interesting since, had they won the tiebreaker, they would have had to flip the pick to the Suns as part of the Greg Monroe trade. Since they didn’t, they’ll keep the pick and send a protected first-rounder in 2019, so long as it falls between 4-16.

The Spurs won the coin toss between themselves and the Timberwolves and will now pick at No. 18. Minnesota’s 19th pick will go to Atlanta as part of a 2015 Adreian Payne trade.

As is always the case, the loser of any tiebreaker will end up with the better pick in the second round. In the event of the four-way tie, all four teams will simply be flipped, giving the Pacers the 50th pick and so on.

Here’s a rundown of what the draft order currently looks like, prior to the results of the May lottery.

Pick Team
1 Suns
2 Grizzlies
3 Mavs
4 Hawks
5 Magic
6 Bulls
7 Kings
8 Cavaliers
9 Knicks
10 76ers
11 Hornets
12 Clippers
13 Clippers
14 Nuggets
15 Wizards
16 Suns
17 Bucks
18 Spurs
19 Hawks
20 Wolves
21 Jazz
22 Bulls
23 Pacers
24 Trail Blazers
25 Lakers
26 76ers
27 Celtics
28 Warriors
29 Nets
30 Hawks

Holiday: Rondo Is a Future Coach Or GM

  • During a recent appearance on the Hard in the Paint podcast, Pelicans’ point guard Jrue Holiday spoke glowingly of teammate Rajon Rondo, stating that he belongs in the Hall of Fame and has a future after his playing days, Bryan Kalbrosky of HoopsHype writes. “€œIn my opinion, yes,” Holiday said of Rondo deserving to be inducted. “He is a coach and a GM. He’d be very similar to Doc Rivers.”

Details On Traded Picks, Upcoming Draft Tiebreakers

With the 2017/18 NBA regular season in the books, the postseason matchups are set in both the Eastern Conference and the Western Conference.

More importantly for fans of most non-playoff teams, the end of the regular season means that the 2018 NBA draft picture is clearer than ever. The 2018 draft order is close to being set and – with a small handful of exceptions – most of this year’s traded draft picks with protections on them have now officially changed hands or officially stayed put.

However, there are still some major question marks surrounding the draft order, since several clubs finished the regular season with identical records, and draft tiebreakers don’t work like playoff tiebreakers do. In order to break these ties, the NBA will conduct random drawings this Friday, as Jonathan Givony of ESPN notes (via Twitter).

[RELATED: 2017/18 NBA Reverse Standings]

For lottery teams, such as the 24-58 Mavericks and Hawks, who finished tied for third in the lottery standings, the implications of those drawings are huge. Whichever team wins that tiebreaker will have ever-so-slightly better odds at the first overall pick (13.8% to 13.7%), and will be in position to claim the higher first-round pick if neither team lands in the top three.

For instance, if the Suns and Grizzlies remain at No. 1 and No. 2 in the lottery and another team leapfrogs the Mavs and Hawks, the winner of the tiebreaker between Dallas and Atlanta would claim the No. 4 overall pick — the loser would get No. 5. For the second round, the loser of the tiebreaker would receive the higher selection.

Here are the draft tiebreakers that will be conducted on Friday:

  • Mavericks vs. Hawks for Nos. 3, 4.
  • Kings vs. Bulls for Nos. 6, 7.
  • Bucks vs. Heat for Nos. 16, 17.
  • Spurs vs. Timberwolves for Nos. 18, 19.
  • Pacers vs. Pelicans vs. Thunder vs. Jazz for Nos. 20-23.

Several of those tiebreakers will also affect this year’s traded picks. Most notably, the Bucks/Heat drawing has massive implications for Milwaukee and Phoenix — the Bucks’ first-round pick will head to the Suns if it lands at No. 16, but Milwaukee would keep it if it ends up at No. 17. In other words, each team has a 50/50 shot at the pick. If the Bucks keep it, they’d owe their 2019 first-round selection to Phoenix, albeit with somewhat similar protections.

Here’s a breakdown of the traded first-round picks for 2018. A check mark indicates the pick will definitely be sent to the indicated team:

  • Nets pick to Cavaliers (✔️): Eighth in lottery standings
  • Lakers pick to Sixers (97.1%) or Celtics (2.9%): 10th in lottery standings
    • Note: Celtics will receive pick if it lands at No. 2 or No. 3 via the lottery.
  • Pistons pick to Clippers (97.5%): 12th in lottery standings
    • Note: Pistons will keep pick if it lands in top three via the lottery.
  • Heat pick to Suns (✔️): No. 16 or 17 (tie)
  • Bucks pick to Suns (50%): No. 16 or 17 (tie)
    • Note: Bucks will keep pick if it lands at No. 17 via a random drawing.
  • Timberwolves pick to Hawks (✔️): No. 18 or 19 (tie)
  • Thunder pick to Timberwolves (✔️): No. 20, 21, 22, or 23 (four-way tie)
  • Pelicans pick to Bulls (✔️): No. 20, 21, 22, or 23 (four-way tie)
  • Cavaliers pick to Lakers (✔️): No. 25
  • Raptors pick to Nets (✔️): No. 29
  • Rockets pick to Hawks (✔️): No. 30

Here’s a breakdown of the traded second-round picks that will change hands in 2018:

  • Bulls pick to Knicks (✔️): No. 36 or 37 (tie)
  • Nets pick to Sixers (✔️): No. 38
  • Knicks pick to Sixers (✔️): No. 39
  • Lakers pick to Nets (✔️): No. 40
  • Hornets pick to Magic (✔️): No. 41
  • Clippers pick to Nuggets (✔️): No. 43
  • Bucks pick to Nets (✔️): No. 45 or 46 (tie)
  • Heat pick to Rockets (✔️): No. 45 or 46 (tie)
  • Nuggets pick to Lakers (✔️): No. 47
  • Trail Blazers pick to Mavericks (✔️): No. 54
  • Cavaliers pick to Hornets (✔️): No. 55
  • Celtics pick to Thunder (✔️): No. 57
  • Warriors pick to Nuggets (✔️): No. 58
  • Raptors pick to Suns (✔️): No. 59
  • Rockets pick to Sixers (✔️): No. 60

Western Conference Playoff Seeding

11:54pm: The Trail Blazers have defeated the Jazz in their regular season finale and clinched the No. 3 seed with the win. Here are the first-round matchups in the Western Conference:

  • Rockets (No. 1) vs. Timberwolves (No. 8)
  • Warriors (No. 2) vs. Spurs (No. 7)
  • Trail Blazers (No. 3) vs. Pelicans (No. 6)
  • Thunder (No. 4) vs. Jazz (No. 5)

9:47pm: The Timberwolves have beaten the Nuggets and clinched the final spot in the 2018 NBA Playoffs. We now know the following.

  • The Nuggets will miss the playoffs
  • The Timberwolves are the No. 8 seed.
  • The Spurs are the No. 7 seed.
  • If the Trail Blazers beat the Jazz:
    • Pelicans are No. 6
    • Jazz are No. 5
    • Thunder are No. 4
    • Blazers are No. 3
  • If the Jazz beat the Trail Blazers:
    • Thunder are No. 6
    • Pelicans are No. 5
    • Blazers are No. 4
    • Jazz are No. 3

8:54pm: The Thunder lead the Grizzlies by 12 with less than nine minutes remaining, while the Pelicans lead the Spurs by 18 with less than 10 minutes remaining. Barring a surprise comeback by Memphis or San Antonio, here is how the playoff picture looks after wins by Oklahoma City and New Orleans.

Jazz: 3 or 5

Trail Blazers: 3 or 4

Thunder: 4 or 6

Pelicans: 5 or 6

Spurs: 7 or 8

Timberwolves: 8 or 9

Nuggets: 7 or 9

4:37pm: As we indicated earlier today, the Nuggets and Timberwolves will face-off tonight with the final spot of the 2018 NBA Playoffs on the line.

And while that game will be the only winner-gets-in, loser-gets-eliminated contest tonight, there are numerous other games with playoff seeding implications on the line. In the Western Conference, only the Rockets and the Warriors know their playoff seeding. Seeds three through eight are all still up for grabs, as follows:

Jazz: 3, 4, or 5

Trail Blazers: 3, 4, or 5

Pelicans: 5, 6, 7, or 8

Spurs: 4, 5, 6, 7, or 8

Thunder: 4, 6, or 8

Timberwolves: 6, 7, 8, or 9

Nuggets: 6, 7, or 9

We will be updating the Western Conference playoff seeding scenarios – in real time – as games finish this evening, so stay tuned to Hoops Rumors for all relevant up-to-the-minute developments.  For now, here are some initial notes that are not conditional upon other game results:

  • The Jazz and Trail Blazers winner gets the No. 3 seed.
  • The Thunder will be the No. 8 seed with a loss to the Grizzlies.
  • As noted above, the loser of the Nuggets and Wolves will finish ninth in the Western Conference standings.

Contract Notes: Embiid, Davis, Lillard, Lowry

When All-NBA voters decide whether or not to classify Anthony Davis as a forward or center on their ballots this year, they may indirectly impact the value of Joel Embiid‘s new contract by approximately $30MM.

As Bobby Marks of ESPN details, the extension Embiid signed with the Sixers last offseason will be worth 25% of the cap starting in 2018/19. However, the contract includes a clause that states his starting salary would increase to 30% if he’s named to the All-NBA First Team. That salary bump would increase his overall earnings by about $30MM over the life of the five-year deal, but it can probably only happen if Davis receives most of his All-NBA votes at forward. Otherwise, he seems like a good bet to beat out Embiid for the center spot on the First Team.

No player has more at stake as a result of All-NBA voting or various other benchmarks than Embiid. But that contract is just one of many that could be affected by a variety of award results, postseason outcomes, or other criteria.

Marks’ piece is worth checking out in full for all the details, but here’s a quick look at a few noteworthy contract situations:

  • Pelicans star Anthony Davis will become eligible for a Designated Veteran Extension in 2019 if he earns an All-NBA spot this year. However, Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard is among the players who would need another All-NBA nod in 2019 to qualify for a supermax deal, even if he’s on this year’s All-NBA squad. Those Designated Veteran Extensions are known as supermax contracts because they start at 35% of the salary cap instead of 30%.
  • Kyle Lowry (Raptors) and Victor Oladipo (Pacers) would get sizable bonuses if their teams make deep playoff runs. Lowry would receive $500K for reaching the Eastern Finals, another $500K for winning the East, and another $500K for a title. Oladipo would earn $250K if Indiana reaches the NBA Finals.
  • All-Defense honors would pay off for Jazz center Rudy Gobert and Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday. Gobert will get a $500K bonus if he’s named to the All-Defense First Team, while Holiday would get $100K for a spot on the First Team or Second Team.
  • Among the players who have already earned bonuses: Hawks center Dewayne Dedmon ($900K for incentives related to points, rebounds, and games played), Trail Blazers forward Maurice Harkless ($500K for his three-point percentage), Bucks center John Henson ($500K for playing 75+ games), and Jazz guard Ricky Rubio ($175K for his field-goal and free-throw percentages).

Pelicans Sign Jordan Crawford

3:07pm: The Pelicans have officially signed Crawford, the team announced this afternoon in a press release.

2:32pm: The Pelicans are expected to sign Jordan Crawford to a contract, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link). New Orleans has an open spot on its 15-man roster, so no corresponding roster move will be necessary to finalize Crawford’s new deal.

Crawford, 29, opened the season with the Pelicans, but was on a non-guaranteed contract and was waived after just two games when the club signed Jameer Nelson. The former first-round pick has been effective during his limited time in New Orleans over the last two years, averaging 13.6 PPG and 3.1 APG with a .483/.410/.769 shooting line in 21 games since the start of the 2016/17 season.

The Pelicans had been on the lookout for backcourt help, with Ian Clark expected to miss the next five-to-10 days with an ankle injury, as head coach Alvin Gentry announced earlier today (Twitter link via Scott Kushner of The Advocate).

Larry Drew II had been the 15th man on New Orleans’ roster, but his 10-day deal with the team expired overnight. Rajon Rondo had said earlier this afternoon that he expected a new point guard to be brought in to fill that newly-opened roster spot (Twitter link via Kushner).

Frank Jackson Offers Update After Third Surgery

Pelicans rookie Frank Jackson is making progress after having his third surgical procedure in 11 months, relays Christian Boutwell of The Advocate. The most recent operation, performed March 19, was follow-up surgery on his right foot to take out scar tissue left over from previous surgeries. Jackson was in New Orleans for tonight’s game and offered an update on his condition.