Pelicans Rumors

Notes On Proposed Formats For NBA’s Return

Although a resumption of the 2019/20 season appears likely, there’s still no clarity on what form the NBA will take upon its return. A potential playoff format has been the subject of much discussion and debate this week, with the league still believed to be considering bringing back anywhere from 16 to 30 teams.

Among other issues, the league must decide whether or not to play any regular season games, whether a play-in pool or play-in tournament makes sense, and whether or not to reseed its playoff teams regardless of conference.

[RELATED: Community Shootaround: Play-In Pool Format]

As the NBA continues to weigh all those questions, a number of notable basketball writers are sharing their input on the potential format of a return to play. Here are some highlights:

  • In a deep dive, ESPN’s Zach Lowe explores various playoff formats for the NBA’s return, suggesting that a seven-team play-in tournament for the final three postseason spots (currently held by the Grizzlies, Nets, and Magic) could be one solution. No Eastern lottery teams would be involved in such a tournament, but the Trail Blazers, Pelicans, Kings, and Spurs would be.
  • John Hollinger of The Athletic contends that most of the experimental postseason proposals are unnecessarily complicated or have dangerous downsides. In Hollinger’s view, the NBA should just keep it simple, bringing back its 16 current playoff teams and play a “normal” postseason. It’s worth noting that Hollinger’s former team, the eighth-seeded Grizzlies, would undoubtedly favor that solution, which forgoes a play-in tournament.
  • In a podcast, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said that some people around the NBA believe the league’s inclination to have more than 16 teams return this summer is directly related to a desire to have Pelicans star Zion Williamson involved in any return to play (hat tip to RealGM). New Orleans currently ranks 10th in the West and 18th overall in the NBA standings.
  • Danny Leroux of The Athletic makes a case for allowing the NBA’s top teams to pick their playoff opponents, regardless of the format the league chooses.
  • If the NBA decides to bring back all 30 teams, the league ought to freeze the draft lottery order based on the current standings in order to avoid a potential tank-fest, says Marc Berman of The New York Post.
  • Chris Mannix of questions whether the NBA should even be prioritizing crowning a champion in 2020, and whether that champ will be viewed as legitimate.

Pistons Notes: GM Search, Kennard, Bone

The Pistons will focus on external candidates in their search for a new general manager, according to James L. Edwards III of The Athletic. The new GM will work alongside senior advisor Ed Stefanski to chart a course for the future of the franchise, while Malik Rose and Pat Garrity will be retained as assistant GMs.

Edwards identifies several potential candidates for the position: Pelicans assistant GM Bryson Graham, former Hawks GM Wes Wilcox, Jazz GM Justin Zanik, Clippers assistant GM Mark Hughes, who was considered for the GM job in Chicago, and Thunder VP of basketball operations Troy Weaver. Edwards also suggests that University of Memphis assistant coach Mike Miller, who had Pistons vice chairman Arn Tellem as an agent during his playing career, could be brought in as another assistant GM.

There’s more from Detroit:

  • Rod Beard of The Detroit News agrees on Hughes and Weaver and offers a few other candidates who might be in play. Shane Battier grew up in the Detroit area and serves as VP of basketball development and analytics with the Heat, but Beard believes it would be difficult to talk him into leaving Miami. Chauncey Billups is a Pistons hero from his playing days and has been considered for other front office openings. Tayshaun Prince, who teamed with Billups on the 2004 championship team, became VP of basketball operations for the Grizzlies last year. Celtics assistant GM Michael Zarren has spent 14 years with the organization and has turned down other opportunities, but Beard believes the Pistons should contact him.
  • Working Luke Kennard back into the rotation would have been a priority if the season had continued, writes Keith Langlois of Kennard, who had been battling tendinitis in both knees since December, was set to return in the Pistons’ next game when the hiatus was imposed. With Kennard about to enter the final year of his rookie contract, Detroit will have to decide soon whether to make a long-term commitment or try to trade him, and Langlois sees his shooting skills as an important element for a rebuilding team.
  • The Pistons may have other priorities at point guard that will prevent Jordan Bone from earning a roster spot next season, Langlois adds in the same piece. Derrick Rose has another year on his contract, and Langlois expects the team to find a veteran to complement him. Also, there will also be plenty of opportunity to fill the position in a draft that’s heavy on point guards. Bone saw limited time in 10 NBA games as a two-way player this season, but averaged 19.9 points per 36 minutes and shot 38% from 3-point range in the G League.

NBA Hopes To Resume Season In July Or August

The NBA’s current projection has games resuming in late July or early August, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

The league is working on multi-phase protocols involving medical and safety concerns, Charania adds. Teams are expected to hold training camps in their home cities in July, followed by camps and scrimmages in Orlando.

It’s the latest bit of encouraging news as the league tries to salvage its season following a hiatus that is now up to 11 weeks. Decisions still have to be made on how many teams will be involved and how the playoffs will be handled.

More information is likely to be forthcoming in a remote meeting Friday involving commissioner Adam Silver and the NBA’s Board of Governors. However, we learned this morning that a final plan isn’t expected at that session.

A limited number of family members would be permitted to join players in the bubble environment in Orlando under a plan being negotiated by the league and the National Basketball Players Association, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburne.

Issues include when family members can arrive at the Walt Disney Resort, which will probably happen once the first group of teams is eliminated and fewer people are being housed in the bubble, sources tell the authors. Family members will be required to undergo the same safety and testing protocols as players and other team personnel.

Talks are continuing on a playoff format, but teams are becoming “skeptical” that the entire league will be part of a resumption, the story adds. One playoffs-plus idea would involve 20 to 24 teams with more from the West than from the East, sources tell Wojnarowski and Shelburne. Play-in possibilities are also being considered involving the Pelicans, Trail Blazers, Spurs and Kings, who are all within striking distance of the eighth seed in the West.

Examining The Futures Of Derrick Favors And Jrue Holiday

RFA Ingram's Could Net Max Contract Offer Sheets

  • Pelicans All-Star Brandon Ingram, a restricted free agent in the offseason this year, has earned a maximum contract with his growth during 2019-20, according to William Guillory and Danny Leroux of The Athletic. The actual amount of that contract remains up in the air, due to a salary cap that will be impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

Pelicans Notes: Facility, Gentry, Zion, K. Williams

As we relayed earlier today, the Pelicans have joined the growing list of NBA teams that have reopened their practice facilities.

Addressing that subject on a call with reporters this afternoon, head of basketball operations David Griffin said that only seven of the club’s players are still in the area and will use the facility — the rest of the Pelicans are finding other ways to work out (Twitter link via Andrew Lopez of ESPN).

Griffin added that he’s not asking players who are out of market to travel back to New Orleans at this time, since he would rather wait until it’s safer and more necessary, according to Lopez.

Here’s more on the Pelicans:

  • Alvin Gentry, 65, falls in an age bracket at risk of being seriously affected by COVID-19. However, the Pelicans’ head coach tells Marc Stein of The New York Times (Twitter links) that that increased vulnerability will “not stop me from doing my job one bit” when play resumes. “I’m going to approach it with caution,” Gentry said. “But I will be immersed in it totally from a competitive standpoint and everything else.”
  • Speaking today to reporters, Griffin admitted he’d embrace the idea of starting the NBA season later, since it would help the Pelicans gain more of a foothold in their market (Twitter link via Lopez). The NFL’s Saints are New Orleans’ most popular professional sports team, so reducing the NBA’s overlap with the football season could be good news for the Pels.
  • Even before the Pelicans reopened their facility today for individual workouts, a couple of players had been permitted in the building for rehab purposes. According to Griffin, Zion Williamson and Kenrich Williams were getting regular treatment there over the last several weeks (Twitter links via William Guillory of The Athletic). Williams, sidelined since January 6 due to a back injury, will be ready to practice in full when teams reconvene, says Griffin.
  • Guillory and Sam Vecenie of The Athletic examine what the Pelicans got right – and wrong – in the 2019 draft, which saw the team select three players besides Williamson.

Clippers, Pelicans Reopening Practice Facilities

The Clippers are among the teams reopening their practice facilities on Monday, as first reported by Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times. The Pelicans, reported last week to be targeting May 18 as their reopening date, are also moving forward with that plan, as Christian Clark of The New Orleans Times-Picayune writes.

As has been the case for teams around the league, the Clippers and Pelicans will face strict regulations from the NBA as players return to their facilities for voluntary individual workouts. No more than four players can be in the building at a time, and their workouts are limited to one hour. They also have to undergo temperature checks before entering the facility and wear masks when they’re not engaged in physical activity.

More than half of the NBA’s teams are now known to have reopened their respective facilities. We count 16 clubs so far, though it’s possible that number is even higher if some teams have reopened their buildings without publicizing it.

The Bucks, Cavaliers, Grizzlies, Hawks, Heat, Jazz, Kings, Lakers, Magic, Nuggets, Pacers, Raptors, Rockets, and Trail Blazers have also reopened their practice facilities.

[UPDATE: The Thunder have reopened their practice facility as well.]

Breaking Down Legal Battle Involving Zion Williamson, Gina Ford

  • The legal battle between Pelicans forward Zion Williamson and his former marketing representative – Prime Sports Marketing president Gina Ford – took another interesting step forward this week, as Ford’s attorneys are pushing to get Williamson to admit he accepted unauthorized benefits at Duke. Dana O’Neil and Diamond Leung of The Athletic and Michael McCann of have shared informative breakdowns explaining what to make of the latest developments in the case.

Draft Notes: Jones, Stanley, Oturu, Reed, Nnaji, Combine

A pair of early entrants out of Duke have signed with agents who aren’t NCAA-certified, officially signaling that they’ll go pro and remain in the 2020 NBA draft. Tre Jones has signed with BDA Sports, according to the agency’s Instagram account, while Cassius Stanley has joined ISE Basketball (Twitter link).

Both Blue Devils prospects had been expected to keep their names in the draft, so their moves to secure representation don’t come as a surprise. Both players are ranked in the top 50 on ESPN’s big board for 2020, with Jones coming in at No. 33 and Stanley at No. 50.

Here’s more on the 2020 draft:

  • A couple more players on this year’s early entrants list have signed with agents and will remain in the draft. Minnesota big man Daniel Oturu has joined BDA Sports, per the agency (Instagram link). Meanwhile, DePaul’s Paul Reed has opted for Ron Shade of Octagon, tweets Evan Daniels of Oturu and Reed place 36th and 51st respectively on ESPN’s list of 2020’s top prospects.
  • Arizona forward Zeke Nnaji has had virtual meetings with the Pelicans, Wizards, and Hornets so far, and has one lined up with the Jazz later this week, says Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News (Twitter link). A possible first-round pick, Nnaji is ranked 34th overall on ESPN’s big board.
  • The NBA has sent teams ballots to vote on prospects they’d like to see participate in the 2020 draft combine, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). The combine, originally scheduled to take place next week, has been postponed indefinitely, but the league still hopes to hold it in some revamped form, either in-person or virtually.

Pistons Notes: Wood, Rebuild, Practice Facility

The Pistons will hold Christian Wood‘s Early Bird rights this offseason and will have the opportunity to dip into cap room if those Early Bird rights (which would allow the team to offer about $10MM per year) aren’t enough to re-sign him. That should put Detroit in the driver’s seat to bring back the promising young big man, who enjoyed a breakout season in 2019/20.

However, as James L. Edwards III of The Athletic details, the Pistons figure to face some competition for Wood’s services on the open market.

Edwards points to New York and Boston as two teams that could pursue the free-agent-to-be. A March report identified the Knicks as a potential Wood suitor — they could have plenty of cap room and a positional need if they decide not to bring back Bobby Portis and Taj Gibson. As for the Celtics, they’ll only have the mid-level exception available, but expressed interest in Wood at the trade deadline.

Edwards goes on to speculate that the Hornets and Pelicans may also be among the teams that keep an eye on Wood in free agency. Charlotte, in particular, will have a good chunk of cap room available and will likely be in the market for a big man with Bismack Biyombo and Willy Hernangomez set to reach the open market.

Here’s more on the Pistons:

  • Given the volatile nature of both the draft lottery and the draft itself, launching a full-fledged rebuild doesn’t come with any guarantees, and the Pistons’ decision to do so wasn’t as obvious as some believed, writes Keith Langlois of However, shifting into rebuilding mode was still the right call for the franchise, Langlois contends.
  • The Pistons likely won’t be reopening their practice facility until at least May 28, since Michigan’s stay-at-home order runs through that date, as Rod Beard of The Detroit News details. “We’re adhering to that,” head of basketball operations Ed Stefanski told Beard. “When the governor of Michigan will let us open the facility and the league is going to allow the players to come back if they want to, to get workouts. We have plenty of protocols to set in place already, and we’ll be ready when they’re allowed.”
  • In case you missed it on Monday, Blake Griffin shared a positive update on his recovery from knee surgery, suggesting he has “basically been cleared for a while now.”