New Orleans Pelicans

Pressure Rises In Wake Of Cousins Trade

The pressure is rising in New Orleans after losses in DeMarcus Cousins‘ first two games with the Pelicans, writes Sam Amick of USA Today. Many observers anointed New Orleans as the favorite to grab the West’s eighth playoff spot after Monday’s trade, but the Pelicans were embarrassed Thursday at home by the Rockets, then faded late in Saturday’s loss at Dallas. They are now 3 1/2 games behind the Nuggets for the eighth spot with 23 games remaining. Cousins had a spectacular game in his debut with 27 points, 14 rebounds, five assists, five steals and four blocks, but scored 12 points on just nine shots last night.

Pelicans commentator David Wesley says Cousins and Anthony Davis haven’t figured out how to co-exist on the court. “Right now, the spacing of the floor is not there,” Wesley said during Saturday’s game. “And with DeMarcus, Anthony, whoever is on the block that’s trying to operate, there are no lanes to operate with. There are no spaces right now to drive the basketball for the guards or the perimeter players. And they’re going to have to figure that out. This is [the] team they have.”

Kings’ GM Divac Explains DeMarcus Cousins Trade

Kings GM Vlade Divac explains his comments about having a better offer for DeMarcus Cousins two days before the deal in an interview with Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee about last week’s shocking trade.

Divac says the offer came from the Pelicans, who were proposing Buddy Hield and two first-round picks, rather than the final package of Hield, Tyreke Evans, Langston Galloway and this year’s first- and second-rounders. He blames the center’s agents, Dan Fegan and Jarinn Akana, for driving down Cousins’ price.

“I talked to DeMarcus’ agents to inform them we were having talks, negotiating terms, and they called teams and threatened them,” Divac explained, “saying that if Cousins was traded, he would not sign an extension. [The Pelicans] got scared and dropped it down to a second-round pick. I thought if I waited longer, I would get less. I needed to act.”

Divac also addressed the urgency created by a possible extension for Cousins, recent comments about keeping the big man in Sacramento and the decision to waive Matt Barnes in a wide-ranging discussion. Here are some highlights:

On the decision to pull the trigger on the trade to New Orleans:

“It was a lot of things, but basically, I thought it was time to start over. There was a lot of bad stuff happening here the last five years, a lot of bad habits. There were always issues, many you don’t even know about. Now I believe strongly this was the right thing to do for our future. Now I have a clear vision. This city deserves better, and I want to create that. With DeMarcus’ situation, I basically was stuck.”

Divac explains the stuck comment by noting that the Kings were looking at another non-playoff season with the prospect of either giving Cousins a massive extension this summer or trying to trade him with an expiring contract, which Divac believes would have scared teams away.

On a statement to ESPN earlier this month that Cousins was staying in Sacramento:

“Because I really did not have [good offers] for DeMarcus. In all the conversations I was having with GMs, we weren’t going to get anything. People were scared because of his history. So I felt confident he was going to stay with us, and I was going to work with him, and we would do the best we can. But then I got the offer from the Pelicans a few days before the All-Star Game. That was a difference of, what, two weeks from what I had said to ESPN? Everything changed.”

On recommending anger management therapy for the sometimes volatile star:

“Actually, that happened, and this time, they seemed more receptive. But I wasn’t sure if that was because the contract was coming up or what, so I wasn’t sure how to take it. Again, I wanted change, to start over. Acquire assets, build it right. At the same time play hard, play up-tempo, share the ball. Be a team, grow together.”

On releasing Barnes, who was waived Monday to open a roster spot and allow the deal to be completed:

“I want to build a culture, and he didn’t fit in my culture. Before we were just talking, preaching. But if we’re going to do it, you do it. The good thing about our situation now is that we have some very nice assets, a few more shooting guards, and time to take a look at Willie [Cauley-Stein], Skal [Labissiere] and Malachi Richardson] when he gets healthy, and Georgios Papagiannis. Ty Lawson has been very good for us, and Darren [Collison] is playing well, and he will be a free agent. Kosta [Koufos] has been good. We have [Bogdan] Bogdanovic coming over next season as another asset.”

On taking heat for moving Cousins:

That’s my job, and I take responsibility. And I totally understand why some fans would be upset. They supported DeMarcus, and I like DeMarcus a lot. But I believe we are going to be in a better position in two years. I want to hear again from these same people in two years. If I’m right, great. If I’m wrong, I’ll step down. But if I go down, I’m going down my way.”

And-Ones: Jones, Thornton, Suns, Raptors

The Pelicans waived Terrence Jones on Thursday after being unable to find a trade partner for him and the Nets waived Marcus Thornton after acquiring him in the Bojan Bogdanovic trade. Both players have cleared waivers and are free to sign with any team, Brian Windhorst of reports (Twitter link).

Jones should have no problem finding a new home. He’s a productive 25-year-old big man who was averaging 11.5 points per game in New Orleans while sporting a 16.2 player efficient rating.

Thornton may have to wait slightly longer to find a new club, but he should be able to help a team fill out the back end of its rotation.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • The Hawks sent $500K to the Suns as part of the Mike Scott trade, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders reports (Twitter link). In addition to the cash considerations, Phoenix received the draft rights to Cenk Akyol for taking on Scott’s contract, while Atlanta received a protected second-round pick.
  • As part of the P.J. Tucker deal, the Raptors sent the Suns cash considerations of $1MM, Pincus tweets. Phoenix also received Jared Sullinger and two second-round picks in the deal. The Suns waived Sullinger on Friday.
  • The Santa Cruz Warriors, Golden State’s D-League affiliate, has traded Cameron Jones to the Canton Charge, leagues sources tell Adam Johnson of D-League Digest (Twitter link).

Pelicans Waive Omri Casspi, Sign Reggie Williams

February 25:  The Pelicans have now signed Williams to a 10-day contract. The club formally announced the addition in a press release on their official website.

February 24: The Pelicans will waive Omri Casspi and use his roster spot to sign Reggie Williams, Shams Charania of The Vertical reports (Twitter link). Casspi, acquired from Sacramento alongside DeMarcus Cousins, suffered a broken thumb in his team debut on Thursday.

Justin Verrier of ESPN initially reported Casspi would miss 4-to-6 weeks with the injury (Twitter link). According to Marc Stein of ESPN, the Pelicans felt Casspi’s absence would leave them short-handed on the wing in midst of a playoff hunt. The decision to cut Casspi wasn’t an easy one, as GM Dell Demps resisted the temptation to flip Casspi leading up to the deadline (Twitter links).

If Casspi doesn’t play another game in 2016/17, he’ll have finished the year averaging 6.1 points through a career-low 23 games. As Bobby Marks of The Vertical points out, the Pelicans are only responsible for $906K of Casspi’s salary, unless he’s claimed on waivers (Twitter link).

The 30-year-old Williams appeared in five games with the Pelicans in December, recording 25 points in that span. A veteran of five NBA teams, Williams averaged 18.2 points this season with the D-League’s Oklahoma City Blue. A lifetime 36.6% 3-point shooter, Williams will supplant Casspi as a long distance threat off New Orleans’ bench.

Jack Excited For Opportunity; Gentry Discusses Jones Release

  • It has been more than a year since Jarrett Jack appeared in an NBA game, so he’s excited about the “tremendous” opportunity he has in New Orleans, as William Guillory of The Times-Picayune details. Jack signed a 10-day contract today with the Pelicans.
  • After adding DeMarcus Cousins to their frontcourt, the Pelicans knew there wouldn’t be many minutes for Terrence Jones going forward, which is why they granted him his release on Thursday, per head coach Alvin Gentry (link via Guillory). “He wants to play,” Gentry said. “Obviously, he’s going to be a guy in a contract year and things like that, so we thought it was best to let him go.”

Omri Casspi Breaks Thumb, Out 4-6 Weeks

FEBRUARY 24: The Pelicans have confirmed the diagnosis on Casspi, announcing today (via Twitter) that the veteran forward will be sidelined for four to six weeks as his thumb heals.

FEBRUARY 23: Omri Casspi broke his right thumb tonight in his first game with the Pelicans since Monday’s trade, tweets Justin Verrier of Doctors are projecting that the injury will sideline him for four to six weeks (Twitter link).

Casspi was sent from Sacramento to New Orleans along with DeMarcus Cousins in a five-player deal. His injury capped an overall bad night for the Pelicans, who suffered a 30-point loss to Houston in front of a sold-out Smoothie King Center. Casspi played 23 minutes and scored 12 points before being hurt. New Orleans was counting on him to provide some wing depth after shipping Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans and Langston Galloway to the Kings.

Casspi is making $3MM this season in the final year of his contract, so he is a candidate to be waived or bought out if the Pelicans don’t want to wait for his return. New Orleans waived Lance Stephenson in a similar situation in November when the team felt like it needed a healthy player.

The Pelicans filled one final roster spot today when they signed Hollis Thompson to a 10-day contract, but opened another when they waived Terrence Jones.

Post-Deadline Housekeeping: New TPEs, Open Roster Spots

There were no superstars on the move on Thursday, but NBA teams made eight trades, and there were many more signings and cuts completed once the deadline passed. In the wake of the deadline, we’ll take a look at a few roster- and cap-related notes, rounding up the new traded player exceptions that teams created on Thursday, as well as examining which teams still have space available on their rosters.

Let’s dive in…

New trade exceptions:

Several over-the-cap teams acquired new trade exceptions on Thursday. They’ll all expire on February 23, 2018, a year after they were created, or until they’re used or renounced by the teams below. If a club wants to use cap room, it must renounce its trade exceptions, but until then, these TPEs can be used in the summer or next season to acquire players.

Here’s the breakdown, in order of TPE value:

  • Dallas Mavericks: $6,642,537
  • Chicago Bulls: $5,462,000
  • Milwaukee Bucks: $5,000,000
  • Atlanta Hawks: $3,333,334
  • Houston Rockets: $3,333,333
  • Dallas Mavericks: $1,514,160
  • Houston Rockets: $612,172
  • Toronto Raptors: $328,000
  • Houston Rockets: $233,880

Some notes related to these TPEs:

  • Multiple teams on this list, including the Rockets and Bucks, could open up cap room by renouncing their trade exceptions. In Houston’s case, this is particularly notable, since the club would create more than $3.5MM in cap space by renouncing these TPEs. That cap room could come in handy very soon if the Rockets are trying to entice a free agent to sign with them instead of another contender that can only offer the minimum.
  • As is always the case with TPEs, some of these exceptions will be more useful than others. The Mavericks could end up doing something interesting with their $6.6MM+ TPE, but the Raptors will almost certainly never use theirs for $328K.
  • The Thunder also came out of Thursday’s action with a new TPE — sort of. Oklahoma City had created a trade exception worth $7.4MM on November 1 when the team sent Ersan Ilyasova to Philadelphia. The Thunder used a portion of that exception at the deadline to absorb Doug McDermott‘s salary, leaving approximately $4.94MM left on it. OKC will have until November 1 to use the rest of that TPE.
  • For the complete list of trade exceptions across the NBA, click here.

Teams with open roster spots:

A day after the trade deadline, the list of teams with open roster spots is incredibly fluid. Some teams that acquired players in trades don’t have any use for those players, and will waive them. Other clubs will fill roster holes with D-League call-ups, while other teams will be a little more patient and wait out the buyout market.

All of this is to say that this list is up to date at the time of publication, but could change quickly as teams make more moves this weekend. Here are the teams that currently have at least one open spot on their 15-man roster, with their player count noted in parentheses:

  • Charlotte Hornets (13): The 10-day contracts for Ray McCallum and Mike Tobey expired overnight, so Charlotte has two open spots. The team reportedly plans to use one on Johnny O’Bryant.
  • Cleveland Cavaliers (14): The Cavs have 13 guaranteed contracts, plus Derrick Williams‘ 10-day deal. The team expects to sign Deron Williams as well, so if any other roster additions are coming after that, Cleveland would need to clear a roster spot.
  • Dallas Mavericks (13): The Mavs have two openings after completing a two-for-one trade with the Sixers, then waiving Deron Williams.
  • Houston Rockets (14): The Rockets opened up a roster spot by trading K.J. McDaniels, and may waive Marcelo Huertas as well. Houston is expected to be active on the buyout market.
  • Milwaukee Bucks (14): The Bucks created a roster opening by sending Roy Hibbert to Denver, and they’re expected to fill it by signing Axel Toupane to a 10-day contract.
  • Minnesota Timberwolves (14): Unlike most of the teams on this list, the Wolves have carried an open roster spot for a while, and that didn’t change at the deadline.
  • Oklahoma City Thunder (14): The Thunder traded three players to Chicago and received just two in return, creating an opening. They have their eye on free agents and buyout candidates.
  • Orlando Magic (14): Like Minnesota, the Magic were carrying an open roster spot prior to the deadline and didn’t make a move on Thursday.

The Suns will join this list as soon as they officially waive Mike Scott and Jared Sullinger, as is expected. They’ll fill one of those two newly-open spots with Ronnie Price. There are also three teams that have full 15-man rosters with at least one player on a 10-day contract. The Hawks, Warriors, and Pelicans fall into this category, with Briante Weber‘s second 10-day deal in Golden State set to expire soon.

For a full breakdown of NBA roster counts, check out our list.

Pelicans Sign Jarrett Jack To 10-Day Deal

12:33pm: The Pelicans have officially signed Jack to a 10-day contract, the team announced today (via Twitter).

9:56am: The Pelicans will add a veteran point guard to fill the final opening on their roster, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical, who reports that Jarrett Jack has agreed to sign a 10-day contract with the team.

Jack, 33, was one of a handful of free agent guards to audition for the Pelicans this week in the wake of the team’s DeMarcus Cousins acquisition, which sent three guards – Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans, and Langston Galloway – to Sacramento. Hollis Thompson and Jack have earned 10-day contracts with New Orleans, while Mario Chalmers, Quinn Cook, and Reggie Williams also worked out for the club this week.

After averaging 12.8 PPG and 7.4 APG through 32 games with the Nets last season, Jack suffered a torn ACL in January, cutting his season short. As a free agent this past summer, the Georgia Tech alum signed with the Hawks, but he was waived when his knee injury lingered into the preseason. It appears he’s fully healthy now.

Jack’s signing will give the Pelicans a full 15-man roster for now, with 13 of those players on guaranteed full-season contracts.

DeMarcus Cousins Talks Vlade, Ranadive, Pelicans

During his introductory press conference as a Pelican on Wednesday, DeMarcus Cousins told reporters that the toughest part about the way he was traded by the Kings was Sacramento’s “dishonesty.” As has been widely reported, the Kings publicly and privately insisted Cousins wouldn’t be traded in the weeks and months leading up to the moment that they agreed to send him to the Pelicans.

In an interview with Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated, Cousins went a step further, suggesting that he views Kings GM Vlade Divac and owner Vivek Ranadive “cowards,” according to Spears. Here are a few of the highlights from Cousins’ candid conversation on the deal and his move from Sacramento to New Orleans:

On whether he wants to talk to Divac or Ranadive:

“Nah. For what? It was a coward move, so I’m pretty sure I will get a coward response. For what? And I’ve seen this happen before. I’ve been there through all same types … I was there with [coach] Mike Malone’s [firing]. I’ve seen how they operate. I know what kind of answer I will get anyway. So, what is the point?”

On when the Kings last told him that he wouldn’t be traded:

“A week before the trade. The sick part about it is that Vlade came in my house with my agent [Jarinn Akana]. We sat in my theater and just talked. That was maybe three weeks ago. We sat there and [he] told me what moves he wanted to make. All of that. I just didn’t understand. … I got a text from the owner right before I went to All-Star. He was asking me about a player, how I felt about him and making a move. The owner! When it happened, I was just in shock. I didn’t understand.”

On whether it will be hard to trust a GM or owner again:

“I’ve always had that issue. I’ve had personal conversations with my agent about that and the whole situation anyway. He tried to steer me in their direction. And I’m like, ‘Nah, I can see through that s—t.’ I’ve always had my doubts. When it comes to that, I’m usually 90%. I knew it. But it was just told to me [no trade] so much.”

On why he still loves Sacramento:

“It’s bigger than basketball. It’s bigger than the Kings organization. It’s bigger than that. The relationships I built out there, I’m more hurt by that. Being away from those relationships and the community, I’m more hurt by that because of the dishonesty and all that s—t with the organization.”

On whether the Pelicans will have a legit shot to keep him for the long term:

“Yeah. I said in the press conference, ‘I’m all in.’ I’m not here to B.S. or waste time. I’m here to win. Whatever the system is, I’m dialed in. I’m all in. I’m not here to waste time.”

Pelicans Sign Hollis Thompson To 10-Day Deal

FEBRUARY 23rd, 5:16pm: The signing is official, according to a press release from the team.

FEBRUARY 22nd, 6:31pm: The Pelicans will sign Hollis Thompson to a 10-day contract, according to Marc Stein of (Twitter link). New Orleans had an open roster spot after the DeMarcus Cousins trade, as the team’s depth chart at Roster Resource indicates.

The team auditioned several players earlier in the week. Mario Chalmers, Quinn Cook and Reggie Williams were among the players trying out for a 10-day deal.

Thompson has been playing for the Spurs’ D-League affiliate. He played for the Sixers earlier this season but was cut before his contract became fully guaranteed.

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