Pelicans Rumors

Troy Williams Among Players Signed, Waived On Saturday

We passed along a large number of moves yesterday as most teams cut their rosters down to the regular season limit. NBA.com’s Transactions Log has a few more that slipped under the radar involving players who were signed and waived to either ensure their affiliate rights or to make sure returning-rights players get bonuses:

Williams is the only one in the group with previous NBA experience. He played 21 games for the Kings last season and has appeared in a combined 72 games over the past three years. Bibbs signed a pair of two-way contracts with the Clippers in March, but didn’t see any game action.

Pelicans Release Three Players

The Pelicans have cut three undrafted rookies from their roster, announcing in a press release that they’ve waived guards Jalen Adams and Javon Bess, along with center Kavell Bigby-Williams.

Adams, Bess, and Bigby-Williams were all on non-guaranteed contracts, so New Orleans’ cap won’t be impacted by the moves. All three players are also eligible to be designated as affiliate players by the Pelicans, so if they decide to sign G League contracts, they’ll join the Erie BayHawks, New Orleans’ new NBAGL team.

The Pelicans now have 17 players under contract, including 15 on standard deals and a pair on two-way contracts, so their roster is ready for the regular season.

Southwest Notes: Anthony, Harden, Westbrook, Belinelli, Payton

Carmelo Anthony has not been on an NBA roster since last November when his Rockets tenure abruptly ended after a 10-game stint. Ever since then, Anthony has been searching for one more opportunity to prolong his Hall of Fame career — which has yet to arise.

In an in-depth feature, ESPN’s Baxter Holmes examines Anthony’s situation from the day he was cut to the present. Carmelo’s story is one of a declining star who has struggled to adjust from his usual role of a primary scorer to a role player.

Holmes also spoke to several team sources who noted that Anthony’s reputation exceeded his current abilities, which put Houston in a tough situation.

Check out more Southwest Division notes:

  • The Rockets‘ major storyline this season will be the reunion of James Harden and Russell Westbrook, as observers keep a close eye on how the two former MVPs play together. Harden says both superstars will need to rely on each other for the team to succeed, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle writes. “At the end of the day, we need each other,” Harden said. “This thing won’t work without each other.” 
  • In his second tour of duty with the Rockets, Ryan Anderson, primarily known as a long-range shooter, may see significant time at center, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle writes. “It’s definitely a role we talked about here,” Anderson said. “I think it’s something I can be really effective at. This team can play in a lot of different ways. I think center could be a good title now.”
  • Knicks point guard Elfrid Payton said the Pelicans were interested in bringing him back but the situation in New York fit him better, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes. “They asked me to come back,’’ Payton said. “I just felt this was a better situation. It was a better fit. [The acquisition of Lonzo Ball] had no effect. I’m not afraid of competition.’’
  • Spurs shooting guard Marco Belinelli misses former assistant coach Ettore Messina, who left San Antonio this past summer to become the head coach of Italian team Pallacanestro Olimpia Milano, Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News writes. “For sure, I miss him. He was very happy here in San Antonio, but I am really happy for him,” Belinelli said.

Zion Williamson Out With Knee Injury To Start Season

Pelicans forward Zion Williamson is expected to be sidelined for “a period of weeks” to start his rookie season due to a right knee injury, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter).

The Pelicans announced on Thursday that Williamson would miss Friday’s preseason game vs. the Knicks with right knee soreness and that he would undergo further testing. According to Wojnarowski, those tests have ruled out the possibility of a severe injury, but New Orleans is treating the issue with an “abundance of caution.” A full recovery is anticipated, Woj adds.

While it’s good news that Williamson avoided a major injury, his absence will put a damper on the NBA’s opening night next Tuesday, when the Pelicans are scheduled to face the defending-champion Raptors in the first game of a TNT doubleheader. The Pelicans also have nationally televised games against the Warriors (October 28), Nuggets (October 31), and Nets (November 4) within the season’s first two weeks.

With the No. 1 overall pick on the shelf, the Pelicans could use some combination of Brandon Ingram, Nicolo Melli, and Kenrich Williams to fill the available minutes at the four. The Pelicans’ depth at forward will be tested early, as sharpshooter Darius Miller is sidelined for the season with a torn Achilles.

2019/20 Over/Unders: Southwest Division

The 2019/20 NBA regular season will get underway in just four days, which means it’s time to get serious about predictions for the upcoming campaign.

With the help of the lines from a handful of sports betting sites, including Bovada and BetOnline, we’re running through the predicted win totals for each of the NBA’s 30 teams, by division. In a series of team-by-team polls, you’ll get the chance to weigh in on whether you think those forecasts are too optimistic or too pessimistic.

Having already looked at the other five divisions, we’re moving onto the Southwest today…


Houston Rockets

Trade Rumors app users, click here for Rockets poll.


San Antonio Spurs

Trade Rumors app users, click here for Spurs poll.


Dallas Mavericks

Trade Rumors app users, click here for Mavericks poll.


New Orleans Pelicans

Trade Rumors app users, click here for Pelicans poll.


Memphis Grizzlies

Trade Rumors app users, click here for Grizzlies poll.


Previous voting results:

Atlantic:

  • Philadelphia 76ers (54.5 wins): Over (54.9%)
  • Boston Celtics (49.5 wins): Under (57.0%)
  • Toronto Raptors (46.5 wins): Under (59.1%)
  • Brooklyn Nets (43.5 wins): Over (58.3%)
  • New York Knicks (27.5 wins): Under (54.9%)

Central:

  • Milwaukee Bucks (57.5 wins): Over (63.5%)
  • Indiana Pacers (46.5 wins): Over (56.6%)
  • Detroit Pistons (37.5 wins): Over (69.8%)
  • Chicago Bulls (33.5 wins): Under (56.2%)
  • Cleveland Cavaliers (24.5 wins): Under (70.0%)

Southeast:

  • Miami Heat (43.5 wins): Over (61.8%)
  • Orlando Magic (41.5 wins): Over (52.0%)
  • Atlanta Hawks (33.5 wins): Over (60.2%)
  • Washington Wizards (26.5 wins): Under (65.5%)
  • Charlotte Hornets (23.5 wins): Under (71.2%)

Northwest:

  • Denver Nuggets (53.5 wins): Over (51.8%)
  • Utah Jazz (53.5 wins): Under (50.8%)
  • Portland Trail Blazers (46.5 wins): Over (78.7%)
  • Minnesota Timberwolves (35.5 wins): Under (57.5%)
  • Oklahoma City Thunder (32.5 wins): Under (55.1%)

Pacific:

  • Los Angeles Clippers (54.5 wins): Over (53.9%)
  • Los Angeles Lakers (51.5 wins): Over (50.3%)
  • Golden State Warriors (48.5 wins): Over (54.3%)
  • Sacramento Kings (38.5 wins): Over (66.2%)
  • Phoenix Suns (29.5 wins): Under (61.8%)

Southwest Notes: Ball, Powell, Van Exel, Guduric

Pelicans guard Lonzo Ball is happy to get a fresh start in New Orleans, leaving his up-and-down history with Los Angeles in the rear view mirror, he explained in an interview with Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Ball, 21, was traded to New Orleans along with Josh Hart, Brandon Ingram and three first-round draft picks in exchange for All-Star forward Anthony Davis this past June.

“It was only a matter of time before a trade happened,” Ball said. “I pretty much knew a trade would happen. Any time you have a player like Anthony Davis available, I knew it was going to be my time. I was looking forward to it and I was excited for a new start. Getting out of L.A. for the first time in my life. I’m happy about it.

“It was just time for a change. I got hurt both years and didn’t do what I wanted to do. I was blessed to stay home and play in front of everybody, but it wasn’t working over there.”

New Orleans sports an impressive young nucleus of Ball, Ingram, Hart, Zion Williamson, Jaxson Hayes, Nickeil Alexander-Walker and others entering the 2019/20 season. The team also managed to add veteran players such as J.J. Redick and Derrick Favors during the offseason.

“Our core could be even better here,” Ball said. “B.I., J. Hart were already part of the young core with me in L.A., and now we have Zion, Nickeil (Alexander-Walker), Jaxson (Hayes), and other guys that want to work and get better. The sky’s the limit.”

There’s more out of the Southwest Division tonight:

  • Dwight Powell‘s absence from the Mavericks is preventing the team from getting a look at him alongside Kristaps Porzingis, writes Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News. Powell, who suffered a left hamstring strain on the fifth day of training camp, is expected to miss the rest of the preseason. “There are no excuses,” head coach Rick Carlisle said after the team’s loss against Milwaukee on Friday. The Bucks finished the game shooting 50% from the field. “We would be doing better, certainly, if Powell was out there, but that isn’t how this game works. You have to concentrate on the guys that you have available.”
  • The Mavericks have brought back Nick Van Exel to the organization as a pro personnel scout, according to Marc Stein of the New York Times (Twitter link). Van Exel holds coaching experience with the Texas Legends, G League affiliate of the Mavericks, from 2014-16, also suiting up for Dallas as a player during the 2002/03 season.
  • David Cobb of the Memphis Commercial Appeal examines how a difficult childhood helped shape Grizzlies wing Marko Guduric, who signed a multiyear contract with the team back in July. “Innocent people died because of politics and whatever,” Guduric, who lived in Yugoslavia, explained. “That was my childhood. It was a difficult time, but I survived it.”

Derrick Favors Adjusting To New Team, New Role

This offseason was not the first time Derrick Favors had been traded. He came to the Jazz halfway through his rookie season via the Deron Williams trade. However, the big man said his move to New Orleans this offseason was easier than his move to Utah back in 2011, as he tells Tony Jones of The Athletic.

“It’s a difference of going from one city to another,” Favors said. “It was a little harder when I got traded to the Jazz, because I was still a teenager and I didn’t know much. Everything was new to me. It’s a little easier now because I knew more what to expect, and I’m grown up and mature. It will take some getting used to, but I’m in a good place physically and mentally.”

Favors became a cap casualty this offseason. The Jazz traded for Mike Conley and inked Bojan Bogdanovic to a four-year deal in free agency, which added a desperately needed scoring wing to the rotation. Those high-priced acquisitions forced the Jazz to shed salary, which made Favors – who is making $17.65MM this season – the cap casualty.

Despite having the opportunity to add Bogdanovic to their roster, some within the Jazz organization fought against jettisoning Favors, sources tell Jones. The Jazz valued Favors highly, though he’s arguably best suited to play the five. With Rudy Gobert on the squad and the team adding new pieces around their All-NBA center, Favors would have been a high-priced luxury that the Jazz simply could not afford.

Favors will join Jrue Holiday and a team of young, up-and-comers with the Pelicans. He should see more minutes at the five in New Orleans than he has at any point his career. Favors has never played more than 62% of his minutes at the center position in any season, but it would be surprising if that number doesn’t rise dramatically in 2019/20, since he should see the majority of his time alongside No. 1 overall pick Zion Williamson.

On the court, Favors will provide a fundamentally-sound game for a team that has many raw parts. Off the court, he’ll provide leadership for a team that features just two players with more NBA experience than him (Holiday and J.J. Redick).

“It’s a new challenge and a new start,” Favors said told Jones. “I have no choice but to embrace it.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images

NBL Prospects Ball, Hampton Drawing Significant Interest

After initially telling NBA teams that they wouldn’t be permitted to scout practices involving top prospects LaMelo Ball and R.J. Hampton this season due to the league’s no-contact rules, the league office allowed clubs to attend a pair of New Zealand Breakers practices in Memphis this week to get a look at Hampton, according to a pair of reports from Jonathan Givony of ESPN.com.

As Givony details, scouts and executives from NBA teams had hoped to attend a total of five Breakers practices this week in Memphis and Oklahoma City to scout Hampton as part of the New Zealand club’s preseason tour. However, the league prohibited teams from attending sessions on Sunday and Monday morning before opening up Monday night’s practice as well as Tuesday morning’s shootaround. Teams will also be allowed to attend the Breakers’ morning shootaround on Thursday in OKC, Givony adds.

As Givony explains, the NBA’s no-contact rules prohibit teams from having contact with draft-ineligible players outside of a few approved settings, including official games and select college practices. Non-college prospects like Ball and Hampton are still considered draft-ineligible for 2020 at this point since they haven’t officially declared through the league office.

The league’s latest memo related to non-contact rules extensively addressed college and international prospects, but Ball and Hampton technically don’t fall into either category since they’re not attending college and haven’t lived outside the U.S. for three years — they’re essentially in a grey area, leaving the NBA to interpret their status based on the league’s existing rules.

It’s possible the NBA will alter its interpretation of those rules or tweak them slightly to allow teams more freedom to scout Ball and Hampton over the course of the 2019/20 season. Givony points out that 27 NBA scouts attending the NBL Blitz in Tasmania last month and many of those scouts attended practices involving Ball and Hampton, which may lead to fines.

The Breakers practices that were open to NBA execs and scouts this week were heavily populated, according to the NBL, which estimates that over 100 reps from teams were on hand on Monday night to get a look at Hampton. Another top 2020 prospect, James Wiseman, had his pro day at the University of Memphis earlier on Monday, so many scouts and execs attended both events.

Meanwhile, Ball, who is also playing in the NBL as a member of the Illawarra Hawks, is drawing plenty of attention from fans in addition to NBA teams. According to Adam Zagoria of Forbes.com, Ball’s NBL debut became the most-watched game in league history, with one million viewers streaming the game on Facebook in the United States.

Zagoria also wrote in a separate Forbes article that the Trail Blazers, Pelicans, Nets, and Raptors are among the teams that have reached out to the Spire Academy in Ohio – where Ball played last season – for information on the young point guard. The Cavaliers have also been evaluating him, sources tell Zagoria.

In ESPN’s latest mock draft, Givony had Wiseman coming off the board at No. 1, followed by Ball at No. 3 and Hampton at No. 6.

Lakers Notes: AD Trade, LeBron, Pelinka, More

When David Griffin arrived in New Orleans as the Pelicans‘ new head of basketball operations, he was faced with a predicament related to Anthony Davis, writes Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com. Sources confirm to McMenamin that there was some lingering resentment toward the Lakers within the Pelicans’ organization – all the way up to ownership – due to the way AD’s public trade request played out earlier in the year. However, Griffin also recognized that L.A. was the most logical trade partner for New Orleans.

“When I took over, there was some latent discontent, maybe with the way things had been handled,” Griffin said. “We just talked about the fact that, look, in all likelihood the best package is going to come from this team, because it’s the only team that AD’s willing to stay at.”

As McMenamin details, agent Rich Paul had signaled to the Celtics and other suitors that Davis wouldn’t re-sign with them in 2020, since the big man wanted to play in New York or Los Angeles.

“The last thing you want to do is put a GM in a situation where he trades away an asset and then the guy walks out the door,” Paul said. “Like, you can’t do business that way. So it’s not really a hard conversation to have. And I don’t think it stopped [Celtics president of basketball operations] Danny Ainge from trying. It’s just that maybe he didn’t have the deal [he wanted]. He wasn’t willing to give up the young players, which I don’t blame him. I wouldn’t give them up either if the guy is not going to re-sign.”

The Pelicans’ big win on draft lottery night helped clear a path for the team to work something out with the Lakers for Davis, as Paul observed to McMenamin: “The fact that [the Pelicans] were going to get the first pick caused me to understand that it softened the blow of losing Anthony Davis because the organization could still have some momentum.”

McMenamin’s story at ESPN provides an in-depth look at several other aspects of the Lakers’ pursuit and acquisition of Davis, as well as the franchise’s adjustment to having him on the roster. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka said that even on the day the Lakers and Pelicans reached a trade agreement, there were a couple times he was convinced a deal wouldn’t come together. But the front office persevered in part because they believed they owed it to LeBron James. “When a player of LeBron’s stature puts his trust in the organization,” Pelinka said, “I think there’s an implicit bilateral trust going back, saying: ‘We’re going to do everything we can to put you in a position to win more championships, because that’s what you’re about.'”
  • Pelinka, who added that he believes in treating his superstar players “like partners,” admitted that he has probably had hundreds of three-way calls with James and Davis since the trade as he has solicited their opinions on certain roster moves. “Every single decision. I [have] never been involved so much,” Davis said. “No matter who the player was, he wanted to make sure. It was on everything. And it was like, ‘Wow.’ To the point where I was like, ‘All right, Rob, stop calling me.'”
  • Kendrick Perkins, who was teammates with LeBron in Cleveland and AD in New Orleans, had a hand in bringing the two stars together. The veteran big man introduced Davis to Klutch Sports in 2018 when word got out that he was considering an agent change, writes McMenamin.
  • Rich Paul believes that Davis’ ability to make threes and pass the ball separates him from other stars like Giannis Antetokounmpo. AD’s agent offered the following spicy take: “If you put Anthony Davis on that Bucks team last year, they’d be playing in the Finals. He knows how to make guys better. That’s not a knock to Giannis, but that’s just what [I think].”
  • The NBA was willing to allow LeBron to give up his jersey number (23) to Davis despite the paperwork not being filed in time, but Nike nixed the idea, citing tens of millions of dollars in wasted inventory on James jerseys, sources tell McMenamin.

And-Ones: India, Johnson, Robinson, Ball

Commissioner Adam Silver would like to start a professional basketball league in India, perhaps in the next five years, Marc Spears of ESPN reports. India would have to build state-of-the-art arenas to make that happen. The NBA had to make numerous additions — including seats, big video screens and lights — to stage a preseason game there between the Kings and Pacers on Friday.

“I think it’s inevitable that there will be state-of-the-art arenas in major cities in India, in part because these are multi-use facilities and live entertainment is increasingly important here as well. … We do need to see those arenas over time in order to play more games,” Silver said.

There’s growing interest in the league in India and its youngsters are harboring NBA dreams, Reid Forgrave of the New York Times reports.

We have more from the basketball world:

  • Joe Johnson is fighting for a roster spot with the Pistons and the veteran forward hopes other players can use the BIG3 as a springboard to relaunch their careers, Eric Woodyard of ESPN writes. “That was another reason why I thought it was very important for me to take this opportunity, because those guys in the BIG3, a lot of them anyway, have hopes to at some point to be able to get back in the league,” said Johnson, who signed a partially guaranteed contract with Detroit. “So I just wanted to let everyone know that it’s possible just to get to this point.” Johnson was the BIG3 MVP this year.
  • Former NBA forward Thomas Robinson has drawn major interest from two Chinese teams, Zhejiang Guangsha and Liaoning, according to a report from Sportando’s Emiliano Carchia. The 2012 lottery pick last played in the NBA during the 2016/17 season, when he saw action in 48 games with the Lakers.
  • Big Baller Brand co-founder Alan Foster has countersued Pelicans guard Lonzo Ball and his father, LaVar Ball, for alleged fraudulent concealment and breach of contract, according to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne. Foster alleges that LaVar Ball embezzled more than $2.6MM from Big Baller Brand and other companies associated with the family to fund an extravagant lifestyle. The Balls sued Foster in April for more than $2MM for alleged embezzlement.